Prompted by 'Haz Mat' and 'Chronus Ess.'
Ed. note: Edited for a few formatting, spelling, and punctuation issues. This is one of my favorite FanPosts ever. The stream of consciousness, the vivid details, the experiences to make all of us middle-aged and all you youngins out there in Internet-land jealous. Thanks for this! -DP
My background as a Chelsea supporter: 1st game 1970 FA cup replay (nice start) at 8 years old, my dad took me. I only remember 3 things my dad told me. Don't support a London club (because of the trouble), don't smoke (should have listened to that one) and don't go to South America. So here I am living in Colombia with Chelsea tattoos writing to WAGNH.
Anyway next game on my own was Ipswich away. The football special train rolls in, every one with the customary arrival song of "maybe it's because I'm a Londoner". The buffet was immediately packed, The Stranglers' "Something Better Change" was put on, then the volume went full on. The place was rocking, we lost but we usually did but I was hooked. Standing days, crush, sweat, smelly, ugly geezers everywhere. I was wearing bags and check suit jacket and Dr. Martens (cool). I soon moved on to denim jacket with embroidered Chelsea lion and bleach spots, black Harrington donkey jacket. Red white and green scarf.
Then on to Man. United away, Liverpool away and WHU at home. I went in both the Stretford End and Kop in the mid seventies. They will deny it but I know we were there. At Man.U, Garner scores after 9 minutes and I am in there to see all the glum mugs around me. I went to 73 of the 92 clubs with Chelsea before new stadiums started being built. At Stamford Bridge we used to go over the wall at 3.05 by the Bovril entrance or later slip the gate a £5er and you're in the East Stand.
I remember when there were only two women, Kathy who most people know has not missed a game since. Hats off to her. And Liz skinhead lovely, not seen her in years. The only black supporters were Babs, Black Willy, Black George and his mate from Wimbledon.
You have never seen anything like a York tavern coach in the old days. In the pub Friday night, coach there at 5am to go to away games. No trousers nights, how many fat pissed Chelsea fans on one pool table? I think it was 14 before everything crashed.
That is the intro; to the World Cup 1982. Chelsea weren't in Europe at the time and became the thing to do to follow England. There was the Switzerland away game when we all left the seats to fight West Ham and Millwall who had joined up (who would believe it?) who were fighting some outnumbered Chelsea. We settled the argument. The flag a mate stole from HMS Belfast after a pissup was left behind in the seats.
Decided to go to Spain; I was living with a celeb in Wandsworth, he drank a bottle of vodka on the ferry and got punchy in France. By the time we arrived at Lille, there was a platform of machine guns waiting for the two of us, which must have looked ridiculous but I am sure the immature hooligan that I was, was filled with pride. They were very different times. It was punch or get punched. They let us go and put us on another train.
Then on to Bilbao for the group stages. Arrived in Bilbao and got very, very drunk. Slept on a wall outside the station where they were going to sell tickets. In the morning, Frank rolled out from under a VW camper -- the first time I had seen a bleached skinhead with St.G cross. In the van were Frank's brother Pete and two Pauls. Drank in the Princess Royal and from round the gas works. We lost touch. First game, France and we were in the French end but they didn't take much persuading to move. The clips of the Robson goal have me on the fence.
There was and hopefully always will be a camaraderie amongst Chelsea fans that makes us special ones and we all went in the van on to Madrid. We had a speaker strapped to the roof with one tape, which treated Spain to back home, this time, Blue is the Colour and The Liquidator over and over. In Madrid there were a lot less, possibly under 200 English. Almost all Chelsea; one 7ft Millwall skinhead who basically did want he wanted.
That night the Spanish came out to fight and found three England fans gone late for a sleep in the park. They got semi circled against a wall, 15 all with slashing knives. One Chels got the worst slashing I have seen, I had to hold the cuts shut waiting for the ambulance. I don't want to glorify any of this, as youngsters might read it, but they were very different times; we tooled up and took some revenge not on anyone but we got some of the guys who did it; they were all dressed in light blue shirts and dark blue trousers.
The games against Germany and Spain were in front of over 100,000 with about 200 English fans, all Chelsea bar stragglers, loners. Against Spain in the Bernabéu, a celeb from Kent was with 150 Chels in the bottom tier and us about 50 in the upper tier opposite end. We had all sorts thrown at us and when we had a go, the police steamed into us; I took an electric prodder to the back in the stadium. If Kevin Keegan had been an inch taller, I could have been to a World Cup final.
I now have no time for England, I am more Chelsea than ever. I have got worse: I can't cheer a goal by players from other clubs. I served my time in the Shed, benches, East, West and made some thoroughly entertaining appearances in the North Stand. After many years of confrontations on and off the pitch, I can't do it. As for cheering a team with five Liverpool players: just f--- off.
In 1987/88 there was an experiment (Bates thing I think) to mix fans. In the West Stand mixed, really mixed; I had them in front, behind and at the side, 2-0 down at half time, police everywhere. Arsenal were my pet hate at that time: for years it had been 2-0 them home and away. I left at half time and didn't go back for a time. The experiment did not last, now there is a surprise.
Micky Droy amongst others used to drink with us after the game. I named my son Marvin after the substitute in 1970 Cup final.
Chelsea is everything/football is just a game, that is the way it always has been for me. Who would have thought we would win Premier and Champions League when we were bottom of the Second Division. Stories? I've got stories!! Who ain't got no history? I like a Youth Cup game now and always did -- they give it all and with none of the crap which abounds in the modern game -- 83 went to West Ham one year, Youth Cup semi, they knew we were going so I don't need to tell you what happened at Green St.
I am going to finish on a gripe I have. Ten Men Went to Mow is a start of second half song and Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea is a second half song for a minimum of twenty minutes. I am sad that modern supporters don't keep things like that going.
Thirty years ago -- so I will tell another quickly -- we went to an end of season disco at SB; why did they let us in? A mate disappeared, got downstairs with an oil painting of Chelsea Moscow, the largest gate at SB ever. He went over the pitch with it out of the stadium and taxi home. When I got home, it was up against the front of the house; lovely work of art. I hope it has made its way back to the club. Anyway, my mate's wife wouldn't have it in the house so he took it down to the pub and swapped it for a cheese plant.
Oh yeah I got stories. Chelsea for me certainly a way of life; don't go near my mum if Chelsea lose.