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A Return To The Good Old, Bad Old Days?

I was reading something Pat Nevin had said just before New Year about us, I think it was just before we played Bolton and it was along the lines of ‘the Newer Chelsea fans don’t know the half of it’. Not that he said that directly but it’s what he meant. He’s right obviously, bearing in mind it’s been about 12 years since we’ve had such a poor run of results it’s not something they’d be used to, in fact, they’re probably pretty stunned.

When I was a kid, people used to take the piss out of me for supporting Chelsea. It wasn’t fun, why would it be? At that time, being a Chelsea supporter meant the piss-taking was pretty much constant but what could I do? As far as I was concerned it wasn’t about choice, back then you didn’t just choose the team doing the best in the league. I’d inherited Chelsea and like that old ornament sitting on your sideboard, the one that’d sat on your nan’s and her nan’s before that, you might not necessarily have wanted it there to start with but it eventually grows on you until you realise you don’t want to part with it. Some days you’ll look at it lovingly, take pleasure in it, other days it’d be a real eyesore but you know you’ll hold onto it anyway – and like everyone else in the family before you, you’ll inflict it on your own kids.

So, if going through relegation battles, having to wait an age to see our scores come up on the videprinter because we were in the second division, was something you learned to live with years ago, how comes our recent results are so much harder for me to take?

Well, back then the players probably got a few pints and free breakfast in the canteen to play their hearts out rather than the king’s ransom they’re getting to swan about now. Back then, no-one would raise as much as eyebrow if a couple of studs were left in their leg as opposed to imaginary cards raised now when they’re felled by a hefty breeze. And the only thing resembling silverware we had to worry about then was the stainless variety in the canteen – and we were bloody lucky that didn’t get sold from under us.

We were rescued though with a sizeable investment from Matthew Harding and once Ken Bates had spent that and an awful lot more besides, we were attracting the likes of Gullit, Zola and Vialli and were a lot prettier on the eye. Needless to say though, the price of more success on the pitch (and a hotel thrown in) had to be off-set somehow and with the bailiffs rubbing their hands together, in came Roman, Bates pocketed a tidy £17million and the rest as we know, isn’t history according to the opposition.

Some things stayed the same of course, Stamford Bridge was still Stamford Bridge, Roman continued the legacy left over from Bates to regard managers as a part-time commodity but the most obvious difference was the leap from also-rans to Champions. The Football Manager (TM) style spending saw us lift not just one but two titles under Mourinho, with the most expensive squad money could buy and whilst a few years back, winning was a bonus, now it was an expectation.

Of course, we haven’t had it all our own way since Abramovich arrived, Fergie’s always been around to make sure of that unlike our own managers, but we’ve always been there or thereabouts – until now. Which brings me back to my original point – if the good old days were as good as I thought, how come our recent form is so hard for me to stomach?

Well, I guess for me it’s like boiled bacon and cabbage, I might have eaten it as a kid coz my mum said I had to but that doesn’t mean that once I left home and it was me coughing up my hard earned cash, it’d be the first thing I’d select off the menu.

Or in other words, like the old Chelsea, when I was brought up we lived within our means so accepted what was served up. These days, money isn’t the problem it used to be, so expectations are higher – or in plain English – we want our money’s worth!



Blue is the colour is an honest insight to the World of Chelsea FC. Not always pretty, sometimes rather cynical, but always realistic.


January 2011
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