Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I still don't want to go to Chelsea


Chelsea used to be Just Another Game. Sort of. I mean obviously they've always been a bit loathsome, their ground was a dump, fans annoying, etc. But we'd beat them more than they beat us, nerves weren't particularly shredded. It was fine.

Then everything changed. No, not when Ambramovich took over; when we started playing like utter cunts against them. That's how and why our dreadful run against them became so dreadful, because it started when they were shit.

When they spent shed loads of money and became really very good, we couldn't beat them, nor could most other teams, but we already had several years of not beating them in the bank.

It was fucking miserable. I ran out of ways to experience us losing against them. I tried going to the matches, of course. The 1-6 at White Hart Lane is a low point that springs to mind. I also tried:

* Watching on TV in a pub
* Watching on TV on my own at home
* Listening on the radio in the kitchen whilst pretending to do other stuff
* Listening on the radio whilst driving round aimlessly
* Going to the cinema and then checking my phone when I came out
* Ignoring the whole thing and getting depressed and depressing texts from friends

On November 5th 2005 we were live on TV. I decided to start watching. By 'watching', I mean having the TV on and glancing at it when I happened to walk through the front room. Affected nonchalance. Actual torture. Pathetic.

They scored, of course, and that was it. Might as well turn it off. Didn't turn it off.

One of my daughters wanted a lift somewhere. Respite. An excuse. I volunteered. Might as well. This is shit. I deliberately listened to something else, there and back. Five Live could fuck off. Okay, I'll just quickly check. See if the crowd noise tells me anything. It's loud. Why is it so loud? We sound encouraged? What's given us encouragement. We haven't, have we? We have. Fuck.

Then it got really painful. We could get a point here. Fuck. I got home and put the TV. Straight away, Lennon scored. Beautiful, brilliant Aaron Lennon. Fuck. This is terrible. We might well get a point now, but it'll feel terrible. Terry gets sent off. Not entirely sure what for. Hmmm, now they'll get a point and it'll be 'heroic'. They'll all mention 'JT' in the post match interviews. Fuck. ('JT' and 'Lamps' are the two most unpalatable words in football, surely).

I couldn't watch anymore. I grabbed my iPod, put my coat on and went for a walk. Honestly. I was getting texts from a few friends. They were excited. Idiots. I replied to one. My friend Ron. I told him I couldn't watch, that I was walking round in the cold listening to the Manic Street Preachers. He would text me when anything happened. If anything happened. Please God don't let anything happen. By this stage I must have had hope. I hate it when that happens.

I wrapped my hand round my phone in my pocket. If it didn't vibrate, we'd be fine. The 90 minutes must have been up by now. Every second that passed cranked up the level of pain the equaliser would bring. At a conscious level, that was all I could think about it. Subconsciously, of course, I must have been thinking, this is it. Finally. Surely. Please. All the pain will end soon. Today's pain, the last 193 years of pain (it seemed that long). The counter would be set back to zero. It would be no games since we'd beaten them. We'd be almost like a normal team again.

My phone vibrated. "It's over". For just a second I thought, is there a tiny chance he means the dream? Does he mean stop hoping, we've fucked it up again, it's over. No, he can't mean that. The phone vibrated again. It was ringing this time. Another friend, Graham. He was shouting. Happy shouting. Unintelligible ecstatic shouting. Not the sound of a man reflecting on our dream being over.

I ran home. My wife and daughters, not great football fans, but huge fans of me not killing myself, were actually there to greet me at the door. We did it! We finally fucking did it!

I watched every second of post match analysis. Went out, watched fireworks, drank. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered apart from the fact that we'd won. Three point lane? Fuck the fuck off.

Since then, of course, we've done fine against them. Can't win at Stamford Bridge, of course, but in the last five at WHL we've won three, drawn one (Berbatov should have fucking won that for us, as well) and lost one. I doubt any other Premier League team has done that well against them (can't be bothered to look it up, sorry).

And we beat them in the Carling cup final, of course. For that one, I was really nervous.

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