Tales From A Romantic Evening With 2,300 Close Friends

Watford vs. Chelsea : 14 February 2009.

On the Friday night I went to the Bath Cider Festival. It was a good laugh, but I limited my intake to just three pints because it’s pretty lethal – and, of course, I didn’t particularly care to be hung over for the main event of the weekend, our game at Vicarage Road in the F.A. Cup fifth round.

The late kick-off allowed me to run a few errands in Frome. I bought a steak and stilton pasty and a Chelsea bun for my drive east and set off at about 12.30pm.

It felt pretty strange, I must say, to be heading towards London at such a late time. It didn’t feel right. I much prefer early starts on a match day. There’s just something about setting off as day breaks. I had planned to meet up with the usual crowd at a pub on Watford High Street. Alan was already on his way and offered these cryptic clues to his whereabouts between 12.45pm and 1.30pm.

Squeeze.

Che Sera Sera

David Elleray

Squeeze Part Two

As I drove past “Bunch Of Rocks” I replied to him. The drive was uneventful and pretty boring to be honest. Despite the hundreds of games in my locker, this was only my second ever visit to the delights of Watford. I don’t know, Watford never really appealed back in my youth. I used to cherry-pick other away games to be honest…I was never keen to travel down from Stoke to go to Watford. I suppose the finances came into play by the time I moved back home after my college years – I’d rather spend money on a trip to West Ham or Arsenal.

I listened to OMD and Depeche Mode on the drive up. As I headed north on the M25, I glanced across towards London and just happened to glance the Wembley Arch, some eight miles away. We were on the Wembley Trail and I wondered if this was a good sign.

I reached Watford after 115 miles on the road. I parked up, paid the £3 fee and headed towards the town centre. Watford is a pretty nondescript place, just inside the M25, not really far enough away from London’s inter-war sprawl to be regarded as a town in its own right. It’s a bit like the North London version of Croydon. The High Street is a pedestrianised strip of about 600 yards and hosts all the big players in the Super Pub category of licensed premises which have evolved in the past ten years. In close proximity, there is a Wetherspoons, an Oneils, a Walkabout, a Chicago Rock and a Yates Wine Lodge. Build ‘em big, get the punters in.

At 3pm, I joined up with Daryl, Ed, Rob, Bradley, Gary and Alan. They were sat infront of a large screen showing a rugby game from Rome, which we dutifully ignored. They had just eaten, but Gary had just arrived from a Saturday morning at work. He was a picture of concentration as he solemnly examined the bar menu for what seemed like ages. He went for the scampi. I slowly sipped on two pints of Kronenburg. I had a text message from Burger, who was drinking a few hundred yards away. All eyes were on the other TV screen, behind my shoulder, as the scores were coming in. Good to see Leeds losing, a draw at Swansea. We were joined by Andy, Jonesey and Jocka, three lads from Nuneaton, near Coventry. We made a few comments to each other about getting Cov away in the next round – they were winning 2-1 at Ewood. That would be nice…I suppose we should always want a home draw, but my mates are always desperate for a new ground to visit on such occasions.

There was the usual banter. I had a nice chat with Rob and then Alan about the trip to Turin in March. However, the arrival of Andy signalled the need for us to address the main talking point of the week. On Monday, a few of us had spent around three hours discussing the “Scolari problem” by email. We were all of mixed opinions. However, at 4.22pm on Monday, whatever we thought didn’t matter. The club had acted and another phase in the history of our club lurched into action. So, we spoke at length about this – and other linked subjects close to our hearts. We weren’t euphoric at Scolari’s demise. We were respectful. We just want the best for the club at the end of the day. We talked about how the inherent nature of our club has changed over the past ten years. We discussed its identity and how our relationship to it has changed. In some ways, we longed for the joyous football of the Gullit era, where our successes were pure fun and there wasn’t the possible taint of other fans sniping away with “you’ve bought your success” comments. We agreed we wanted our Chelsea back – the phenomenal away support, the closeness with the players, the noise, the sense of belonging – but we did note that should “our Chelsea” ( borne in adversity ) take precedence over the Chelsea of a fan of 12 years, who has known nothing but success? We acknowledged this dilemma.

It was a great discussion, heartfelt and interesting. I love my Chelsea mates – the inner circle – and when one of us makes a comment and it is met with nods of approval, it’s a great feeling.

It is this shared experience that makes supporting my club so rewarding.

As kick-off approached, coats were put on, collars were pulled up close to faces, beers sunk. We sauntered out of The Walkabout with the swagger that football fans who cut their teeth in the ‘eighties can only really understand. Ten lads in white trainers, wearing jeans and jackets, tottering through enemy territory on match day. You can’t beat it.

My lads walked on as I stayed to meet up with Burger, who was with Mark and Mick. I joked that there were about 15 OB outside the Wetherspoons – had they heard about Burger’s problems in Seville? The last two hundred yards of the approach to Vicarage Street is a junk food addicts’ dream. The roads are absolutely festooned with chippies, kebab shops, Indians, Chinese restaurants and burger bars. Cathy and Dog walked past. A tout tried to sell us a ticket – we contacted Lee, who was still ticketless.

Got inside the ground at about 5.10pm – it had only been a 15 minute walk from the pub. I was halfway back, to the left of the goal as I saw it. I noted that the TV cameras had switched sides and were now positioned in the middle of the three derelict stands, now unused under the Safety Of Sports Act.

Our away support was good, plenty of noise, plenty of variety. The two versions of The Bouncy got us going. I was sat by myself, but Burger was ten seats to my left, Andy six seats to my right. It’s lovely how we still honour former players through song. At Watford, we honoured Peter Osgood with a lovely rendition of “Born Is the King” and also songs in honour of Dennis Wise and Wayne Bridge. Long may it continue.

Of course, Michael Mancienne made his first team debut. I noted his squad number…number 42 and it made me smart. As a baseball fan, number 42 represents Jackie Robinson ( and – OK – Mariano Rivera until he retires ), the first black player in baseball. Let us all hope Mancienne goes on to an as rich and as storied career as Robinson.

It was a strange back-four to be honest. Mancienne began well. He seems confident going forward. We worked out a few openings in the first period but only Anelka really troubled the Watford ‘keeper. I noted that we were still operating a 4-3-3 and that Anelka and Drogba were taking it in turns to play the wide right role. At least they were passing to each other on a few occasions. We had most of the half, of course, but that succession of Watford free-kicks late on scared me. Lampard was full of honest endeavour. Contrast this with Ballack’s performance.

I was stood ( we all were, that’s more like it! ) next to two strangers, but we had a good old chat throughout the game. Good points well made by all three of us. It reconfirmed my faith in our support. We’re not all gobby youths or moaning minnies.

Off for a toilet break at half time…my God, 400 of us had the same idea…ridiculous. I saw that Lee had made it in. A few smokers were lighting up in the cramped gents…cough, cough.

More Chelsea pressure in the second-half, but no end result. The Ballack chance made me comment to the bloke to my right “It’s not going to be one of those games is it?” I turned around in pain, but was dismayed to see supporters right behind me laughing at Ballack’s miss.

I stared at them – what, one wonders, were they laughing at? I was stern, teeth gritted, agonising over every missed chance. It made me wonder for a few seconds, but I resumed my support of the team.

“Matthew Harding’s Blue And White Army – We Hate Tottenham.”

Of course, our World caved in with that one Watford move, which had followed a sustained amount of Chelsea pressure.

On 69, up the other end and we were licked. Well, I guess it was Valentine’s Day.

The groans inside the Chelsea end were soon replaced by songs of support, but deep down, I feared the worse. The ball which had lead to the goal seemed to be offside and yet, here we were, facing F.A. Cup defeat by a Championship struggler for the second year in a row. I looked across at Burger…he had been at the Barnsley game too. I wondered what he was thinking.

We serenaded Stoch and he came on. He looked keen.

Thank heavens for Anelka’s fine flick which lead to our equaliser. Within a few seconds, he had headed a second and we were transformed into a bubbling mass of humanity. Brilliant. Of course, soon after, a great block by Cech kept us ahead and then, as the game appeared to have run its course, Anelka’s fine turn and shot gave us a third. Fantastic.

“That’s a great goal” I said to the chap next to me.

So – Anelka…the perfect hat-trick, one with his left, a header and one with his right. For the record, the best ever hat-trick I have seen at Chelsea was Hasselbaink’s perfect three against Tottenham in 2005. That was phenomenal.

Stoch impressed me. Our support for him was very gratifying. All that young lad has to do is look to go past defenders and he will have 40,000 people singing his name every week. He is a real threat, a real winger. Malouda doesn’t compare. I think Stoch and Mancienne are going to be great players for us.

“Che Sera Sera, Whatever Will Be Will Be, We’re Going To Wembley, Che Sera Sera.”

I waited for Burger and Mick to leave. We walked back to the town centre, our steps quick and joyous, lots of laughter.

“See you in April, mate.”

On walking back to the car, in the deserted High Street, I heard three lads singing “We hate Chelsea.” It surprised me…Watford’s support had been quiet all afternoon. As they passed me, I heard them talk to each other…in a Scouse accent. That explained it.

Great – if we are able to upset fans of Liverpool when we aren’t even playing them, job done!

I texted Andy, Daryl and Alan – “Cov away next?”

I pulled out of Watford at 7.45pm. I stopped at Fleet Services for a well-earned KFC meal and was home by 10.10pm. The highlights on ITV began at 10.15pm and we were the first game on.

Perfect.

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Tales From The Ice Road

Chelsea vs. Hull City : 7 February 2009.

I live in a small village in rural Somerset, nestled in a valley to the east of The Mendip Hills. Like most of the UK, the village has been hit with a couple of heavy ( for us ) snowfalls the past week. On the local news on Friday, the weatherman advised “if you don’t have to travel on Saturday morning, please don’t.” Icy roads were to be expected.

So – a bit of a dilemma for me? No, of course not. Chelsea were at home and I was going.

I woke up at 6.45am and peeked outside. The snow was still thick on the front lawn and the fields, but the roads just looked icy with no fresh snow. I had to park the car on the road on Friday night because the driveway was too slippery, or rather, too steep. Got my things together ( wallet, camera, coat ) and defrosted the car. I didn’t like the look of the roads. I set off for Frome at 7.30am and tentatively edged my way down through the village, the road completely covered in a sheet of ice. Apart from a spell at college and a ten month stint in North America, I have lived all of my life in Mells ( claims to fame…the home of Little Jack Horner, the final resting place of WW2 poet Siegfried Sassoonand the home of TV presenter Kirsty Young)…as I crept past the village pub and church, which date from the fifteenth century, I thought back to my first ever game, March 1974…and here I was, doing the same trip, thirty-five years on.

Up Wadbury Hill, made it…nice one… and down through Great Elm. Here, I was faced with a real dilemna, whether or not to go straight on to Mutry and chance a dodgy hill, or head through a country lane which was probably less risky. I took option B and drove slowly over packed ice. I made it to Buckland Dinham, home of my maternal grandmother, and gave a little “woop” of congratulations to myself. From there, down through Lower Street, past the homes of my two aunts, and out onto the clear A361. I had made it. Phew.

I collected Glenn at 7.50am although the roads on his estate were pretty bad… then PD and Dave at 8am. Karen was missing this one and Tuna The Fishy Boy was using her ticket. To be honest, the road from Frome to Warminster was surprisingly bad. I felt my wheels slide as I made my way through Corsley. We noted that some skiers and snowboarders had been busy on the slopes of Cley Hill, just opposite the gate to the Longleat estate. To be honest, the fields were a picture. Once onto the Warminster by-pass, down the clear A36 and then past Stonehenge on the old 303, the roads were fine. They had been gritted and caused no problems. I relaxed and could now enjoy the drive.

Burger had been in touch. The clans were gathering. I stopped at Fleet for a coffee, but was parked-up at Chelsea by 10.30am. Three hours of driving and I breathed a deep sigh.

“Made it.”

As always, our first port of call was The Yadana Café and their breakfast hit the spot. Glenn and myself walked down past the markets stalls on the North End Road and reached a sunny, yet cold, Stamford Bridge at 11.15am. Burger and Julie were spotted taking photos by the Chelsea mural. It was great to see them again – I have a feeling the last time our paths crossed was the debacle at Barnsley last season. They were visiting with Julie’s sister and her bloke. The ubiquitous Mr. Coden was there too. Trouble was – where was The Fishy Boy? Was he making his way inland from The Thames, flipping away madly? Where was he? He eventually emerged from The So Bar and we were all together for the first time since LA.

That sounds terribly jet-set doesn’t it?

We made a bee line for the hotel where I had hoped that Tuna and Burger could meet up with Mr Chelsea himself, Ron Harris. Thankfully, he was sat in a quiet booth with his brother Alan and Barry Bridges, both team mates from the ‘sixties. The legendary Mick was nearby too and Burger met him to discuss plans for Spain vs. England in Seville on Wednesday. Ron was his usual relaxed and charming self and posed for snaps. Luckily, Peter Bonetti soon arrived too and so more snaps. As Tuna stood with Peter Bonetti, both Burger and myself made a quip at the same time about “The Cat eating Tuna.” I could sense that they were both very happy to be able to meet these great Chelsea personalities. Job done and we headed off for a beer at The So Bar.

I was just about to suggest a team photo outside the megastore, when I heard someone shout “Chris” and of course it was Jordan, who was also in town. Good job he recognised me…he was in London with his girlfriend Christine and was looking forward to his first ever Chelsea match, although they had already been on the stadium tour. While the others headed for some beer, we went back to the hotel foyer. Unfortunately, Ron had disappeared, but Peter Bonetti was joined by top-scorer Bobby Tambling. Jordan and Christine were in luck and I was able to get them to pose for photos with Peter and Bobby. I also managed to mug Mick for a classy black and white photograph of Peter Bonetti so he could sign it for Jordan. I had a quick little chat with Bobby and his wife, who remembered me from the CPO event in November. A lovely time – the Chelsea Family, all together, smiling and laughing.

We dipped into The So Bar, which was stating to come to life. Had a little chat with Jon for the first time in a while. Things were a bit tight at his place of work and so I wished him well. Glenn was chatting with Tuna and I noted they were on the Guinness. Tuna, Glenn, Jordan, Christine and myself then walked back to The Goose, which was already heaving. In our little area, tucked next to the back section of the bar, there was over thirty people that I knew, all chatting away, drinking, partially-watching the City versus ‘Boro game on Sky. It was pretty manic and there was nowhere to move. Burger’s party soon joined us and the drinking continued apace…well, apart from me…of course I was driving. I explained to Jordan that The Goose was the cheapest boozer in SW6 by far. My home area was well represented, with eleven fans from Frome, Westbury, Trowbridge and Melksham…the others had travelled up by train. Wimps!

Parky was amongst the Trowbridge lot and we spoke about going to the Chelsea Old Boys game at nearby Swindon on Wednesday evening. Watch this space.

Jordan and Christine left early to make sure they could see the pre-match. They had seats in the Shed Lower. I went around to chat with Burgs and Julie, but there were conversations flying around everywhere. As is so often the case, the pre-match was the best part of the entire day.

Tuna and myself made our way to our seats in the Shed Upper and we bumped into CFC Cathy by the CFCUK stall. Perfect timing. Thank heavens, unlike the season opener versus Pompey, there were no queues at the turnstiles. We reached our seats just as the “Chelsea – Pride Of London” flag was wending its way along the Matthew Harding lower. It was a magnificent sight actually. We were pleased to see Ricardo Quaresma starting…but I am sure Glenn wasn’t. He was having trouble pronouncing his surname and I am sure I heard five different versions, ranging from Querro to Quasimodo during the day.

We began brightly and of course JT should have scored within the first few minutes. Quaresma looked lively, but we all found it bizarre he chose to cross using the outside of his boot on four separate occasions. The first-half was quite promising and I was enjoying being close to the action in the Shed Upper. It does afford great views. However, as the game progressed, I kept looking at the clock and couldn’t believe how quick the time was passing…a bit like the school holidays when the first two weeks are spent frittering away time and the rest is spent thinking how soon the end would be in sight. We frittered away too many chances in that first-half and later paid for it.

I phoned Andy so that Tuna could say a few words just as a “Zigger Zagger” began…this was probably the highlight of the entire game.

We were all dismayed that Q was taken off to be honest. He looked a threat. There was no change in tempo throughout the game. The midfield three didn’t dominate. Ballack drifted. Our defence, too, seemed to be disjointed and Hull so easily could have won it. Tuna was bellowing his disgust, but the atmosphere was again morgue-like. I felt for our guests from North America. At least Lovejoy stayed awake.

The post mortem?

I am going to find it terribly difficult to remain buoyant and positive about this. I am neither a champion of Scolari but neither a great critic of him. At this moment in time, it is obvious that things are not right within the club. However, I sincerely hope that we do not become a “slash and burn” club, with hirings and firings taking place every year. Of course, I am not convinced that Scolari has the stomach nor the skill-set to manage Chelsea in this league. However, at the moment, I feel we need to give him the full season. I loathe the idea of managers being fired ( Ince and now Adams ) after four or five months. If he goes, who can we get to replace him? No, let’s work through this. Supporting Chelsea was never easy and these things are tough, but let’s stay with it. Again, I think the entire club’s support has been spoilt since 2003 and the spectre of Mourinho looms large. I personally think United will walk it this season. Is coming second a reason to sack the manager? I don’t know…I really don’t know.

Set off from London at 5.30pm and – thankfully – no more snow. Infact, the weather had been quite sunny and a lot of the ice on the roads close to home had turned to brown slush. My three passengers slept for most of the drive home. I listened to England capitulate to 51 all out in the West Indies and Liverpool edge a win at Pompey with two late late games. It was one of those days.

Eventually home at 8.30pm after six hours of tiring driving. I must be mad.

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Tales From Fulham Broadway

Chelsea vs. West Ham United : 14 December 2008.

This is the story of Saturday night, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday evening I met up with a few friends to see The Blockheads perform in my local town of Frome. This band was fronted by the king of lyrical wizardry Ian Dury, who sadly passed away a few years ago. They have produced some great songs over the years, especially in the 1977-80 period. Infact, I worked out that the fourth single I ever bought, back in around April 1978, was The Blockheads’ “What a Waste.” This song has a certain amount of notoriety in Chelsea circles because of one line, referring to Fulham Broadway tube station. For a twelve year old boy in Somerset to hear the “Chelsea station” mentioned in a pop song was great. Many debates have been held over the years, questioning if Dury was a Chelsea fan. If not, why did he mention that station? Maybe we will never know. This was a Stiff record – and I remember being ever so thrilled by a swear word on the sleeve. Rock and roll! Half way through the gig, The Blockheads aired the song…their first real hit.

“I could be the driver in an articulated lorry I could be a poet, I wouldn’t need to worry I could be the teacher in a classroom full of scholars I could be the sergeant in a squadron full of wallahs What a waste What a waste What a waste What a waste Because I chose to play the fool in a six-piece band First night nerves every one night stand I should be glad to be so inclined What a waste! What a waste! Rock and roll don’t mind (Schtum) I could be a lawyer with stratagems and ruses I could be a doctor with poultices and bruises I could be a writer with a growing reputation I could be the ticket man at Fulham Broadway station What a waste What a waste What a waste What a waste Because I chose to play the fool in a six-piece band First night nerves every one night stand I should be glad to be so inclined What a waste! What a waste! Rock and roll don’t mind I could be the catalyst that sparks the revolution I could be an inmate in a long-term institution I could lead to wide extremes, I could do or die I could yawn and be withdrawn and watch them gallop by What a waste What a waste What a waste What a waste Because I chose to play the fool in a six-piece band First night nerves every one night stand I should be glad to be so inclined What a waste! What a waste! Rock and roll don’t mind Chose to play the fool in a six-piece band First night nerves every one night stand I should be glad to be so inclined What a waste! What a waste! Rock and roll don’t mind What a waste! What a waste! Rock and roll don’t mind Chose to play the fool in a six-piece band First night nerves every one night stand I should be glad to be so inclined What a waste! What a waste! Rock and roll don’t mind”

Great stuff. During the gig, I realised that I most probably bought the single in the town’s “Woolworths.” Pretty poignant really – this very week, “Woolworhs” shops all over Britain have been having their closing down sales, the most notable name in the high street to be affected by the global downturn thus far. A real shame.

“What a waste” indeed.

A few of the songs were careering around my head as I drove into Frome on Sunday morning. Due to the lack of work around at the moment, PD. Dave and Karen had decided not to go to the game. I had acted as ticket-broker and had shifted the tickets to some close mates. I volunteered to drive. Parky from Trowbridge was travelling up with Glenn and myself. We left at 9am and I made great time. Constant chat on the way up yet again – they should connect Parky to the National Grid, the energy he expels.

Parked up at 11am and straight into the café for a fry-up. Frank and Andy were already there. The owners presented us all with individual Xmas cards, thanking us for our custom throughout the year. A nice touch.

I needed to zip down to the stadium in order to get a few things sorted out. Popped into the shop – bought the late Ron Hockings’ “100 Years Of The Blues” for £25…I already have his 1985 and 1995 editions of these books, in which every game is detailed. I love pouring over the games. So many memories. Ron was th official historian until his untimely death in 2006, just after we secured our third championship. He went to about 4,000 Chelsea games apparently.

By the time I had retraced my steps to the refurbished Goose, the clans were gathering. I made my two pints last forever. Good to see three of the Nuneaton lot pop in. Neil had a glance at my newly-acquired book and spotted his first ever game – a 3-1 win at Highfield Road back in 1971…a week after Trowbridge Andy’s first game! The banter was flying about. Had a word with Dutch Mick in the beer garden – he spotted my Blockhead T-Shirt and it turns out he is a big fan too. On the subject of music, about 16 of us are going to The Specials gig at Brixton next May…that promises to be a classic. Another potential legendary weekend is planned for Cup Final weekend too. Alan and myself are seeing Morrissey on the Friday. Alan, Daryl, Gary and myself are seeing Depeche Mode on the Saturday. We just need to get Chelsea to the FA Cup Final for one of the best two days ever. Watch this space!

A big cheer rang out in the pub when Gianfranco Zola was spotted arriving at The Bridge on TV. A few songs in his honour. Good stuff. We exchanged a few Christmas cards.

Alan gave me a rare Cocteau Twins DVD, which I was so pleased to receive. The only reference to 1983-1984 this time will be a nod towards me stumbling across the Cocteau Twins in the autumn of 1983. I first heard Liz Fraser’s voice on This Mortal Coil’s version of Tim Buckley’s “Song To The Siren.” A song so pure it still chills me to the bone. Once I heard Pat Nevin loved them too – well, perfect.

A hardy few of us will see each other a Everton next Monday…for the rest, it was “Have a good Christmas – see you on Boxing Day.” I left for the ground quite early – chatting away with Russ, another Frome / Chelsea boy. It seems that The Slug ( aka The Kings Arms ) is now the designated away pub at Chelsea on match days. I guess this is par for the course these days…think The Arkles near Anfield for Everton, The Fernhurst at Blackburn, The Beehive at Bolton. It would never have happened back in the eighties, though!

I got to my seat by about 3.30pm…plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere. A typical Chelsea Home Game of late…tons and tons of possession, but…well, you all saw it. Really, over the course of the whole game, we again deserved to win…but. Thought Mikel was our best player by far…a real solid performance, breaking up the play, playing it simple. So strong. I was really disappointed, again, by the lack of movement from the front six at times. West Ham were spirited, but I was still flabbergasted that they went 1-0 up. That Bellamy is such an irritant, but a good player of course. Ballack was woeful and deserved to be subbed at the break. My “favourite” referee Old Mother Riley was winding me up, as per usual.

A few, typical, boos at half-time. Mention Scolari to anyone now and they will say “No Plan B” in the way that Ranieri was “Tinkerman” and Mourinho was “The Special One.” Doesn’t matter that this is Scolari’s first four months in charge at Chelsea ( that he has won World Cups, that he was England’s first choice after Sven )…Scolari has no Plan B and is therefore a rubbish manager. This is the view of many at Chelsea. Funny how we urge other clubs to give new managers time, but not at Chelsea. Anyway, Drogba for Ballack at the break wasn’t rocket science. Let’s see if he does have a Plan B?

I thought that the atmosphere wasn’t bad for a change, especially in the second-half once we had got the goal back. A great goal, too. Nice stuff. At times I actually heard the West Stand singing. The second-half was a war of attrition…not a bad game at all really…a nice bit of noise. Of course, Cech’s fantastic save from Carlton Cole at the death gave us a share of the points. Deeply frustrating, of course. Then the boos started. After Liverpool fans booing their team off after a 0-0 draw at Anfield ( in which they went a point clear at the top ) and Arsenal fans shamelessly booing Eboue at The Emirates, it seems that Chelsea fans ( sorry – I mean Chelsea customers, not fans ) boo the team now too. What does it all mean? Maybe Booing is the new rock and roll? I can’t get my head around it. Sometimes my disgust for my fellow fans is palpable.

A quick march up the North End Road. Reached the car at 6.15pm. Glenn ( the worse for wear – he had been on the Guiness and was wobbly ) called me to say that Parky was nowhere to be seen. They had arranged to meet outside “The So” but Glenn had said that it had kicked-off. I tried to phone Parky, but no answer. The time passed. I eventually spoke to him and he had been hit by some West Ham. I was worried for him, but he seemed OK. Just like West Ham to hit someone on crutches I thought. Glenn waited in The Goose for him. I spoke to Glenn, infact, just as a mob of West Ham were scouting for stragglers. I waited in my car. At 7pm, I looked back and saw them both, safe…Parky with a beaming smile on his face. He was OK. He was buzzing, infact. I drove home, through the busy streets around Barons Court and then out onto the M4, as Parky beemed as he told me of his expoits. It seems a few lippy West Ham fans had goaded him, so he launched into them, crutches flailing. He got hit, but took a few down with him. I didn’t know what to think to be honest. He was safe, that was the main thing. He didn’t even have a bruised ego – far from it infact. He was just glad we had waited for him. As if we would leave him!

We sang a few verses of Rolf Harris’ “Two Little Boys.” “Do you think I would leave you crying when there’s room on my horse for two?” We laughed. After a few minutes, Glenn fell asleep, all limp with Guinness. Eventually dropped Parky off at 9pm, Glenn at 9.15pm…I bought another Chinese on the way home…getting back at 9.45pm. Rather than watch “MOTD2”, I instead played the Cocteau Twins’ DVD. I couldn’t stomach seeing the game again, really.

Another two points dropped – plus the chance to go top.

What a waste.

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