Tales From The Blue Country

Chelsea vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers : 21 November 2009.

I had been looking forward for this game for some time as it would be Danny’s first ever game at The Bridge. So often I hear comments that people experience Chelsea vicariously through me…well, I would be trying to live vicariously through him for one day.

Danny arrived on Friday, along with Beth, and Tuna was still in the UK. We had also planned to meet Gill and Graeme. Oh – and His Royal Highness The Prince Of Gumbo was arriving on the Saturday morning too.

Clearly a busy day.

With this in mind, I picked up Glenn and Parky by 8am. There was constant chat on the way up and this then gave way to The Jam’s “All Mod Cons” as we neared London. Of all of the bands from my youth, none conjures up memories of my Chelsea match-going experiences in the 1977-1982 period better than The Jam.

The Jam consisted of three working class chaps from Woking – a Chelsea hot bed – and they sang of London streets, rows going on down near Slough, tube stations at midnight and “Eton Rifles.” If you were to draw two Venn diagrams of The Jam’s support and footy fans, there would be a massive overlap. Their aggressive style mirrored that of the terraces. A perfect match.

We zipped past Windsor Castle and I was reminded that Frome Town would be playing at Windsor & Eton later that day.

We were parked up at 9.45am and we marched down to “Lloyd’s” for 10am. Breakfasts were ordered and we waited for Beth and Danny to arrive. We used to drink at this bar, which is located in the shopping centre above the tube for a while, but it got too busy. I was reminded of the old saying “nobody goes there anymore because it gets too crowded.” It was great to see Beth and Danny again and I welcomed them to HQ. After a quick chat, I had to quickly visit the box office to pick up a ticket for Gumby. With Gill and Graeme with us, we then quickly arranged for a team photo outside the West Stand with the CIA flag ( which has become a TV star in its own right ). I hinted that there might be several CIA match reports which will be converging at several points. There was then a quick trip up to the hotel foyer for Danny to meet Ron Harris and Peter Bonetti. I think Danny appreciated that.

I then had to meet a chap who was able to use a spare ticket – a friend of a friend – and we spent about forty-five minutes in The So Bar, awaiting Gumby’s arrival. Years ago, I think I would be a bit concerned about meeting a stranger – what to talk about! – but as we were both Chelsea fans, it was easy…we have that shared history to refer to. Bob was from North London, a fan since the 1967 Cup Final, but now lives in Devon. A few pieces of celery were thrown around and I told Bob about my little protest the day celery was officially banned from The Bridge in around 2006. I smuggled in a small piece and pinned it to my shirt. As protests go, it was hardly on the same scale as the lone Chinese student standing in front of that tank in Tiananmen Square, but there you go.

I don’t often drink in the So Bar and although it’s nicely noisy and very dark and atmospheric, I objected to a couple of nazi salutes.

Sort your lives out.

Gumby arrived with Lee and Mark at about 1.15pm and I handed over his Porto ticket. Bob and myself then spent about an hour in an absolutely packed Goose.

Phew – it had been manic.

At Chelsea, there are sometimes people handing outside various products by the main gates and, on this occasion, I was handed some chewing gum. Apparently, they were handing out toothbrushes too. I thought this was a bit bizarre, but then wondered if some bright spark at an advertising agency remembered the guy versus United cleaning his teeth and thought we all do this at Chelsea. Who knows how their minds work.

I got inside the ground and located Beth and Danny, down at The Shed, behind the west corner flag. The rain was starting to fall – oh well, Danny had said he had wanted some authentic winter weather. Liverpool had dropped yet more points and this was met with much laughter.

The 3,000 away fans were in early and I noted a few flags. One was “Devizes – Wolves” and I had seen this one on TV last Saturday for the England vs. Brazil game in Dubai. Devizes is a small town in Wiltshire, not far from where I work. I also spotted a Wolves flag which simply said “Wolves – Aye – We.” ( “Wolves – Yes, us” in English ) Wolves are based in The Black Country and their accent is pretty thick. The most famous Chelsea vs. Wolves game is, of course the 1955 game, but I remember the 1994 FA Cup quarter final when we won 1-0 and the “Blue Flag” song really came into our common consciousness. We sang that endlessly on that day.

“The Liquidater” was aired at about 2.50pm and the Wolves support joined in too – they also have it as a pre-game song. I saw Danny joining in.

In fact, throughout the game, I put myself in Danny’s shoes and wondered if he was having a good time. Would all of the pre-match hype live up to expectations? Would he be happy with the noise levels in The Shed? Would he feel at home? These thoughts fascinated me all day.

I noted three new, presumably permanent, Supporters Clubs banners on the balcony of the East Middle…those belonging to Sweden, Bermuda and Hastings. I think the idea is to get all of the balconies completely adorned with these and I like this idea.

It annoyed me that we weren’t treated to the classic old gold of Wolves’ first choice kit.

Wolves began brightly and a cross zipped across the wet surface at the North End of the stadium. Thankfully, no attacker was at hand to cause us any damage. Soon after, a quick break and some poor defending allowed Malouda to advance unhindered. He unleashed a real snorter which lashed into the Wolves goal and The Bridge erupted. Soon after, I received a text from Kyle in LA laughing about Danny’s nemesis Malouda scoring the first ever goal that Danny would witness at The Bridge. I had forgotten that Danny shares my opinions about Malouda and I had to chuckle.

By 3.22pm, two further goals had been scored at The Shed and it was a case of “game over.” I loved the players going down to celebrate all three at the corner flag were Beth and Danny were sitting. For Essien’s header, I have a wide angled shot of Essien waiting for the oncoming players to join him, arms outstretched, with Danny in the crowd, camera at the ready. I hoped for an onslaught of Chelsea pressure and many more goals. Although we passed the ball well nicely, no more goals ensued in the first period.

However, two pieces of play to talk about.

Firstly, there was a classic JT chest pass out of defence ( does everyone else notice how often JT does this? I counted three in one game a while ago…) and then that superb save by Cech, down low, from Ebanks-Blake.

Superb stuff.

We played some lovely stuff at times in the second-half, but with only the one Joe Cole goal to show for it. I took a nice shot of him when he was lifted up by Kalou, his face beaming towards the Matthew Harding. Essien was on fire the entire game and deserved a hat-trick…how unlucky he was with that strike which was saved and then hit the bar. I have always said Ess should score more goals for us.

The support was great at times…a “Super Chelsea – Super Chelsea FC” being the highlight…again I looked towards The Shed and spotted Danny’s arms outstretched. Now, I bet he felt at home at that stage.

Wolves countered with the dull “WWYWYWS?” and I groaned. How original. They also sang “four nil and you still don’t sing” at the East Lower, full of families and kids – a pretty anaemic part of our ground really.

So be it.

The highlight of the second-half was the lovely debut of Gael Kakuta. He showed real class and was a bundle of skilful ingenuity. That one delightful body swerve and shot was simply beautiful. Let’s hope he fulfils his vast promise at Chelsea.

So, 4-0 and it was a breeze.

Since that Stephen Hunt goal during the home opener, we have since conceded no further goals at home in the league. Let’s get back to Fortress Stamford Bridge.

The rain lashed down as we exited the stadium – buoyed by news of Arsenal’s defeat, we were full of smiles as we briefly met Cathy, Beth and Danny by the hotel. Danny looked a bit dazed to be honest – I eagerly await his match report.

Glenn, Parky and myself sloped off to The Finborough and then Salvo’s for pizza and beers. We watched a bit of the United vs. Everton game, but they couldn’t touch us this week.

Five points clear and having a laugh.

I drove back to Somerset, Glenn and Parky asleep for the most part, and got home just in time to see the games on “Match Of The Day.” We looked great and Alan Hansen was full of praise. I noted that Didier’s goal at The Reebok had been voted the goal of the month for October.

Happy days.

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