Last night’s encounter at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Huddersfield Town began with plenty of hope, positivity, and good vibes. Not two hours later it ended in disappointment, frustration, and anger. And then, Chelsea’s inability to collect all three points took on an even more surreal quality with the planned post-match lap of honor. It was, after all the final home match of the season, and as per tradition, that called for a bit of recognition.
Last night’s effort may have summed up the season quite succinctly, but it still only represented 1 game out of the 59 Chelsea will have played by the time the FA Cup final is over. As disappointing as the 1-1 draw against Huddersfield might have been, the players and coaching staff still deserved at least a bit of token applause from the “supporters” for the season’s effort, the potential FA Cup trophy, and at least a 5th place finish. We’ve certainly had worse days at the Bridge, and we don’t have to go back very far.
Alas, the lap of honor (recognition, or whatever you want to call it) was almost as embarrassing as the result itself. After the final whistle, once the stadium realized that Lee Mason was not joking in making one final shining example of how not to handle obvious time-wasting from a team, Chelsea players and fans both streamed for the exits. A few of the Blue shirts remained, but most wanted anything but the spotlight, especially with Huddersfield celebrating loudly in the Shed corner.
Half of Chelsea's players have disappeared down the tunnel, apparently unaware that a lap of 'appreciation' is supposed to follow. Hazard stands in space, hands on hips, seemingly disbelieving of the situation.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) May 9, 2018
Chelsea's plans for a post-match show of appreciation to the fans are roundly snubbed by the paying public. Perhaps less than 5,000 home fans remain. Will it even take place? Meanwhile Huddersfield's support celebrate their side's safety.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) May 9, 2018
Eventually, the players re-emerged and did their duty. Nobody’s heart was in it, obviously, least of all the fans’, most of whom were well on their way out already.
Chelsea's players walk a humbling, and much curtailed lap in appreciation of the support. Those fans who have remaiend, and it's a tiny proportion of the whole, return the applase. The whole thing is over in about two minutes.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) May 9, 2018
Sort of, but by that time there was no-one in the stands to say goodbye to pic.twitter.com/pwazqDYBW3— Sid Celery (@sidcelery) May 10, 2018
There were certainly no speeches (tearful or celebratory), no smiles, no gleaming shots of the owner’s box with everyone gladhanding each other for a job well done. Part of that was the timing of the match — midweek, late night, school-/work-night — part of it was the result and the season itself, and part of it was just the general culture of modern day football (not just online, but in person as well). But perhaps that’s a discussion for another day.
Last to leave the pitch were two people who may not step foot on it again in official playing or coaching capacity for Chelsea, David Luiz and Antonio Conte.
And that makes me sad more than anything else at the moment.
Conte was a class act, despite falling short. Last man off the field in his final home game of the season. He also shook hands with every single Huddersfield player, after their wild celebrations. No rush for his media commitments, he is a football man. #CFC #CHEHUD pic.twitter.com/S1LOtKw0Iy— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) May 9, 2018
In much happier scenes, Jody Morris’s quadruple-winning under-18s did their lap around the pitch at half-time. Congrats to the boys for another amazing season!