Tales From My Childhood And Beyond

Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur : 20 September 2009.

When I was about six, I wrote all sorts of “football facts and figures” in an exercise book ( which I still have, somewhere ). I stuck a few stickers on the cover including a Chelsea rosette. There was a roughly drawn picture of Leeds’ Mick Jones on the cover too ( don’t ask – I don’t know why I chose him! ) Every week, I watched “Match Of The Day” and “The Big Match” and tried my hardest to write down all of the various team line-ups. I put a few items in it about Chelsea. Over a period of about two months, I noted the number of goals that Chelsea and Tottenham scored in their various league games…I guess that, even then, in around 1971, I recognised the “special rivalry” between the two clubs.

To be fair, we had London’s “The Big Match” on ITV every Sunday after lunch and the two teams always seemed to be on. Whisper it, but I greatly admired Spurs’ Alan Gilzean…I think it was because he had the same bald pate as my father. But nobody could compare to Peter Osgood, just in case anybody is worried.

My uncle Geoff, who we started to take to games in around 1975, was a Spurs fan…Spurs always seemed to be in my consciousness…more so than Arsenal, as an example. At school, there were Spurs fans, but not many Arsenal ones. I have said before that I class Spurs and Chelsea’s identity and support as a bit similar ( certainly in the ‘seventies ). West Ham were working class but entertaining, Arsenal middle class but ( pre-Wenger ) oh-so boring…Spurs’ and Chelsea’s support was mixed…lots of working class fans, lots of hoolies, lots of glamour and good footballing sides to boot.

However, my general ambivalence to Tottenham as a young lad changed after they virtually relegated us in 1975, romped to a hideous 3-1 win at The Bridge in 1978 ( yes – I was present…I can still feel the pain…Hoddle, Ardiles and Villa causing havoc after our man Tommy Langley scored with a bicycle kick ) and then knocked us out of the FA Cup in 1982.

Scars which go deep.

Of course, we have had the upper hand over them for two decades now. The 32 league game unbeaten run from February 1990 to November 2006 was epic and so enjoyable. The last time I was physically present at a Spurs defeat of Chelsea at the Bridge was way back in 1986!

Karen, Dave, Lord Parky, Glenn’s mate Steve and myself set off from Somerset at 10.15am. Parky was in constant chatter mode as a ska compilation CD was played on the drive up. We then had a dance compilation. I think Parky is going to do his version of Lady Ga Ga’s “Poker Face”…Lord Ga Ga’s “Parky Face.”

Straight into the pub for a nice pre-match…the service was rubbish, though. It took ages to get served. There was a proper gathering of the clans, with clusters of my mates from Nuneaton, Trowbridge and London talking in the beer garden and inside the pub too. Mo was nearby, chatting to Stan. After a while, Mike ( NY ) and Kevin ( MI ) showed-up just as the Manchester derby was got into full swing. What a game, by the way – there were massive shouts of approval each time City equalised, then a horrendous groan once we heard Owen had tipped it 4-3 in United’s favour. A draw would have been lovely. Still, City’s defeat meant we were the only unbeaten team left.

The big talking point of the day was my good friend Alan’s admission that he had starred as an extra in the new Nick Love film “The Firm.” His scene was filmed almost a year ago and he told us that he is in it for about ten seconds, if you know where to look. We were all surprised to hear this – he hadn’t said anything in case his scene never made it past the editing. I remember the original, starring Gary Oldman, which came out in 1989…I can’t wait to see this now, especially on DVD – with that pause button ready! Alan had to wear a truly chronic Gabicci pullover. All the clothes are meant to be spot on apparently. Which brings us nicely to –

Lacoste Watch

Alan – dark blue
Lord Parky – royal blue
Chris – pink
Jokka – sky blue

Onwards to the game! More trouble at the turnstiles with the scanners, but I reached my seat just as the kick-off took place…perfect timing.

It was a perfect day for football. Dry and not too hot. I noticed yet another new banner, draped to my left over the balcony. It quoted the Suggs’ song from 1997.

“The only place to be every other Saturday.”

We are to be commended for our “Chelsea Style” banners which brighten up the balconies and walls of The Bridge. I love the simple and evocative “Born Is the King.”

There was a nice piece about Vic Flaherty in the programme.

Programme Quick Quiz

1. How many goals did Spurs legend Clive Allen score in 24 appearances for Chelsea?

2. Who was Chelsea’s manager when we last lost against Spurs at home?

3. Gus Poyet made 149 appearances for us. Did he play more or less during his three years spell at Spurs?

4. Which Blues defender scored a loast-gasp winner at Spurs in 2001/2002?

We began brightly and I captured the Bosingwa shot which rocked the bar on film. However, Spurs came back into it and had a fair amount of the ball, despite only a Defoe shot really bothering us. Cech saved that one well. The noise was good at the start – all of that pre-match beer had the desired effect…but then it quietened a bit. The Spurs’ slow dirge “Oh when the spurs…blah, blah, blah” was not really met with a response from The Shed. Disappointing. Then – how soon that changed…a fantastic cross and Ashley stooped to conquer. This was the perfect response a Spurs’ song about Cole and Sol Campbell. Oh – how we laughed.

Alan – “They’ll have to come at us know.”
Chris – “Come on my little diamonds.”

Buzzing at half-time…I went off for a £3 steak and ale pie. Paul Elliott was on the pitch at the break and I wondered how many Chelsea “fans” knew who he was. I was a bit late back to my seat, but Alan told me that Carlo got a great reception from the Matthew Harding at the start of the second half. This was nice to hear – I have a lot of respect for Carlo…one of the good guys. However, his Spurs kit looked baggy and didn’t fit him that well…he really should have gone to a club with more style!

I was sat next to Steve ( a neutral fan – a rare breed ) and he asked me –

“What is it about Ballack? He doesn’t seem to fit in” Indeed, he hadn’t had a great game. Alan was on his case, too. No more than a minute later, Frank set up Ballack to make it 2-0.

What do we know, eh? More celebrations and more laughter. The game now appeared safe and we were looking at six wins out of six. The day was rounded off with an exceptional goal from the rejuvenated Drogba…this was the definitive Drogba goal infact.

The anticipation, the sprint, the strength, the touch, the guile, the power.

He rounded the hapless Carlo…the anticipation reached epic proportions and he slammed the ball in.

Quite spectacular…a fantastic goal.

With the crowd rejuvenated too, the MHL serenaded Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who was in full view in the TV studio, overlooking the north-east corner. He was loving it.

It was good to see the Chelsea support clap off the injured Bassong…nice to see we can be well-mannered when required.

After a while, the Spurs fans decided that they would start getting behind their team and they did make a fair racket…but no more so than when we went to The Lane in March. This seems to be the norm now…often the 3,000 away fans out-sing the home fans. A Spurs fan was led out of the Upper East and – rather comically – the away fans were full of it. Never mind you are losing 3-0, never mind you haven’t beaten us at The Bridge since 1990 – one fan has been led out of the home area.

Big deal!

Outside, the crowds were slowly moving past The So Bar and I realised that the police had let out the Spurs fans at the same time as us. It got a bit tetchy – lots of gesturing, but I didn’t see anything. I am sure that Spurs made a big deal about “out-singing” the Chelsea support ( which they did for only some of the time ) but – to be honest – despite the rivalry, Chelsea Football Club has moved on and have much bigger fish to fry than Tottenham.

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