For years I used to spend match days like many other supporters in the world who either don't have the financial means necessary to frequently visit Stamford Bridge (yep, that's me) or simply live too far away. Well, fear no more, I might just have the perfect solution to enhance your match day experience without flying to the UK!
Getting up, looking forward to the game, feeling anxiety or being nervous prior to those big, big games, and and and.. all these things are part of a routine that takes place every other Saturday (or Sunday) and are the highlight of my week. Sitting down with a beer and turning on the game had become a ritual that was starting to feel a rather repetitive. Add to this that I was usually the only one in the flat screaming about us scoring and subsequently arousing the terrible vengeance of my girlfriend, is something that I gradually got tired of.
I always envied (and to be fair, I still do) the fans that are able to attend games regularly, not having to organize a flight, a hotel (or less glamorous establishments), and other such things in order to watch the Chels play. Hearing that iconic Liquidator theme, singing my heart out, and discussing everything football before and after the game in a local pub near the Bridge were things I sorely missed due to living abroad.
Don't get me wrong, watching Chelsea play, no matter how or where, is something I nevertheless cherish and remains the priority. However, the thought of being able to sit down with a dozen people who live for Chelsea as much as I do is something I've always wanted to do on a regular basis. I wasn't able to do this while living in Bromley as a child due to my dad and my granddad being Sp*rs supporters (to answer your question, yes, yes I am ashamed).
So, here in Austria, I decided that I wanted to find something that would come as close as possible to said match day experience, then it happened: the Facebook adverts actually proved to be useful for once and I noticed a recommended fan page titled “Chelsea Supporters Austria”. On it, I was able to read up various match day events, as well as seeing the faces of many people for the first time that I nowadays call friends, maybe even family. I realized then that there really were options out there and, in December 2016, it finally happened, I attended my first match against Man City at a local Irish pub up in Vienna.
I was joined by several members of the supporters club and, while watching that fantastic game that we ultimately won in the most emphatic of ways, I was able to bond with people who felt the same way I did; whether that be in regard to cursing about Cahill's own goal or praising Costa for him bullying the City defenders, it truly felt fantastic. The moment our former Spanish striker scored the equalizer, the pub erupted in a fashion I had missed dearly. I was able to scream my lungs out, and.. nothing; no complaints, no flak from my girlfriend, no problems. On the contrary, I was bought a beer for celebrating like a lunatic.
As a result, I decided to join the the Chelsea Supporters Austria, an official Chelsea supporters club that is acknowledged by the club like many others all around the world and have never looked back since. In hindsight, I'd have joined much sooner had I known about them as the combination of Chelsea euphoria, other British folk (something that was and is pretty great and an important factor, personally speaking), and togetherness has led to me hopping on a train as often as I can and travelling up to the “Chelsea” Pub in Vienna (yes, our official meet up is a pub called the “Chelsea”).
The social aspect is probably the most enticing of all the reasons to join and is ultimately why I decided to write this article. I wanted to bring this great possibility to your attention as it's simply an opportunity that many might want to take into consideration and may have never heard of. Of course, I can't say how good other fan clubs are but due to our one being in contact with the German Blues up north and the Croatian Blues down south, I can assert that the same applies to them.
An additional advantage of joining up is definitely the easier access to tickets and organized group trips to Stamford Bridge. There are two types of members in the fan club: those with the “True Blue” membership, and thus the ability to link accounts to buy tickets, and those without. If the former applies, the fee for being part of the fan club is pretty low as you're already paying for the True Blue subscription. Additionally, as is the case here in Austria, there a several people with a season ticket which also helps.
Now, how can I find such a fan club, you might ask. There are a few possibilities, the best one being to visit the official Chelsea website section and look up a group near you. If you do see one that isn't far away then you'll be able to contact the representatives of the specific fan club, many even citing the location where they meet up for games. I promise you, they'll embrace you and you'll feel welcomed immediately!
To conclude, joining an official supporters group of our beloved Chelsea can very well benefit you in numerous ways; from being able to socialize with people of the same mindset (never encountered as many people I straight away bonded with as there) to singing some of those iconic Chelsea chants, drinking in your Chelsea kit, granting easier access to tickets, and providing those precious moments of hugging others in celebration, the Chelsea supporters fan clubs will certainly enrich both your match day and life. I assure you, you won’t regret it!
P.S.: if anyone's ever near Vienna and doesn't know where and how to watch the game, we always gladly welcome visitors to watch it with us, as has often been the case with guests from the UK and Ireland!