This is part 2 of 'yorktavern' story time. Here's part 1.
Battersea, Fulham, Acton are for me the three traditional heartlands of Chelsea support. I would have no problem with Battersea, I would like to stay at the Bridge but mostly for the Fulham Rd, Kings Rd and North End Rd pubs. Rest assured Roman has all the best people on it and they will make the right decisions. Isn’t it great to support Chelsea these days you just know that success is coming no matter where the stadium is? chelsea support then extends to (but not for the stadium obviously) Pimlico, Wandsworth , Roehampton, Stockwell, Brixton, Balham then you are either out to Thornton Heath, Purley and the Surrey suburbs or out of London to the west Hounslow, Slough and into Berkshire. I think I would be right to say we are the top supported club in Kent as well.
Roman Abramovich is the best thing ever to happen to any football club in the history of the game. The sweetest part is how he is one of us, not in a bizarre Delia Smith way, but, as I see it, in a Chelsea way; he’s passionate beyond belief, he is certainly cool enough to get in the club and he puts in the time and miles which I think count for more than the £s. I find it hilarious with all the newly foreign-owned clubs, we know who they are, and the owners grace a visit every blue moon. They have owners who are piss poor supporters, whereas Roman is a candidate for top supporter in spirit.
Don’t you just love the way he doesn’t even blink at the press. I think he’d have loved a bit of aggro in the old days as well all though undoubtedly as a looker/cheerer on. In the way Seb Coe did, he loved a Chelsea away game and you have to ask why. The thought has really made me laugh but imagine Roman getting stuck in at Pompey away on Wednesday night in winter early 80s.
As I have mentioned it, in the 80s for a night game, Pompey v Chelsea, there would be fighting, no rioting no knives, no smashing stuff just traditional fisticuffs and straighteners (I remember a fork once at Pompey, stuck in his arm in the middle of a fight; we left him in the van and went to the game; don’t underestimate the fork as a weapon) more or less non-stop in various places. Mobs would spring up and kick off from midday right through to 1/2 in the morning. There was one time, I don’t remember details but midnight back streets around Fratton pPark and we decide let's just have one more go. We found them, got the better of them, then we got charged and beat by the SPG down from London. It was a tactic at that time, to try and batter us away from grounds. Full riot gear 2 deep across the road, they had chants like us too. Then this is night, no one else on the streets, place we don’t know, talking to ourselves a few minutes and we realise we don’t recognise or know anyone. Two of us in their main firm, which always was worthy of respect. There are times like that my mate has decided f—- it and kicked off getting me in all kinds of trouble and him obviously but on this occasion we both just laughed like idiots and snook away when we could. I can imagine Roman seeing a bit of that with his big grin and a bit of a clap.
I feel the major change that has taken place on a fan level is that it was "our" club and now it is a lot of people's club. At the Portsmouth game you had 8000 friends and when you stand side by side in a fight and also pubs, stations, coaches etc. they become good friends. Even more so games when there were only 4500 at a home game. Or when snow called off our game in the 70s we’d go and take the North Bank at Highbury, one of the early benefits of undersoil heating.
I suppose in a way all the chats etc. that go on here we used to have in those pubs, trains, stations, coaches. So many people knew each other and many more by sight, there were links between all groups of people. Not so much now. Price of success, worth every rouble and rumble. What better way to get one over on all those old rivals as much as modern day ones than to be able to sing classics such as, "hello, hello, hello, John Terry has won the double," or "we know what we are…" or one that touches my heart: "we’re the only team in London with a European cup" — at Tottenham for example — you have got every one of them crying inside in an instant.
The only two words sung all second half were "Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea" and "war war war war" over and over, 8000 of us: frenzy is the word. Twenty minutes before the end, people were kicking at the gates to get on the street — war, war, war — and then out on the street — war, war, war. Crazy, crazy times. I often wonder what happened to a Pompey guy we left unconscious on the street that night, I think, and he was still lying there alone like much later. I am not sick, I hope he recovered is happy and enjoyed his life (he has suffered enough with Pompey).
I will disappear again soon as I am now 52 years and I cringe a bit writing these things. I am in Colombia, will always follow the footy or the Chelsea. I haven’t seen a minute of the WC yet. Even having spent 9 months in Brazil when I first came here in 1989. Google images "NEVADO RUIZ " that is where I am right now. When you see where I am it is just wrong to be thinking back too much. So I think the tales of the dark years or glory years might be best where they are: history.
Don’t let anyone tell you different: we were the best. Not always but over the period, the best. No bullies; if we were at city, we would meet in Moss Side; Sheffield in their pub, Leicester in their estates and so on. We bit off more than we could chew on many occasions to be honest. But we were the best. Thanks for listening and your comments.
I love the humour on this site most of all. All the best and what a team we have got for next season!