4,000 WENT TO MOW!

By Peter Sampson
Aug 19th, 2008

The Chelsea Independent, sold outside Stamford Bridge from 1987 to 2000 was the best loved Chelsea fanzine of all time.   It played a key part in the fans’ recent history.  Neil Barnett, of Chelsea TV fame, nicked all the best Indie writers for Chelsea’s own in-house magazine in 1991, whilst Dave Johnstone (Editor in late 1990’s) went on to produce the excellent cfcuk fanzine.  CFCnet itself is born from the ruins of the Chelsea Independent as this website was originally the online version of the fanzine.

Issue 31 of the Chelsea Independent was published in March 1992 and has one of my favourite covers. It shows the “This is Anfield” sign with the headline “We were there at Anfield”. I was there at Anfield and in a trophy free era beating the “Mickeys” in their own yard for the first time in 57 years was nearly as good as it gets. At least as good as we ever thought it would get.

The 1991 to 1992 season was my second favourite season up until a couple of years ago. (The Div 2 campaign in 1988 to 1989 was my favourite season) This was mainly down to the fact that Chelsea also reached the 6th round of the FA Cup in ‘92. It was also my record appearance in a season where I attended 42 games. Not bad considering a home game was (and still is) a 230 mile round trip for me.

The back cover of this issue brings everything back to earth as it’s an advert for some “Save the Bridge” t-shirts. Uncomfortable times away from the football side of things for Stamford Bridge regulars as our very own stadium was under threat.

Blues Talk

Nick Brown was the editor at the time and his editorial talks about the victory at Anfield and the surprising Tommy Boyd for Cascarino swap deal. Nick also mentions the revelation that was Andy Myers. Andy filled in for Boyd for the match against Southampton and looked to be a good prospect.

The FA Cup match versus Sheffield United was also mentioned. The main talking point being the Vinnie Jones three second booking at the start of the game.

Vinnie scored against Liverpool in the aforementioned victory. Vinnie loved a big game atmosphere and the “10 men went to mow” song. I can remember him conducting the fans at Loftus Road earlier in the season when he really should have been warming up with the rest of the team. I enjoyed Vinnie’s time at the club. Apparently he was disappointed to leave the club.

Paul Elliot gets raves reviews too for his performance against Sheffield United. “Jamaica” was class in my eyes and right up there in ability with JT and Marcel Desailly. Don’t get me started on Dean Saunders.

Bridge Developments

In this article Nick Brown keeps the readers in the picture concerning the latest Stamford Bridge developments. In short the plans, as they stood, meant that a stadium that could hold 40,000 would only be allowed to host an attendance of 20,000 due to ‘exiting safety’. The whole episode seemed to be complicated by the nearly released Taylor Report.

Being Put Out To Grass

Jon Ladd predicts the departure of Kerry Dixon due to the arrival of Tony Cascarino from Celtic. Jon talks of Kerry’s bad treatment by the press and the fact that Chelsea, at times, seemed intent of kicking him whilst he was down. In particular his on/off transfer to Arsenal and a possible loan the previous season.

Kerry was my idol at the time even though I’m only a few younger than him. It was sad to see him leave but he had started to labour a little in truth. One of the most reflective days of my life was when I picked up a Sun paper whilst on holiday later that year and saw a picture of him in a Southampton shirt. What a sad day.

There’s a great cartoon from Peter Fordham in this issue. It shows a section of an all seated Stamford Bridge from the near future as predicted by Peter.

The fixture is against West Ham and the attendance is very poor. The sparse supporters of West Ham are demonstrating about their proposed Bond Scheme and are seen asking as to where the Chelsea mob are. The Chelsea support consists of John Major and David Mellor who are hidden by an “isolation from reality bubble”. Of course the poor support is related to the spiralling ticket prices and all seated stadia.

Colliespondence

Seems to be a bit of a turf war going on. Looks like the Red Card had upset a few Indie readers with some comments towards the independent. I’ll try to dig the offending issue of Red Card if you’re interested. I was an avid reader of the Red Card as well and for a short while it was slightly better than the independent but overall the Independent was king. Judging by the sniping that goes on against CFCnet now-a-days I’m surprised the two alpha publications didn’t fall out more!

Another piece of correspondence was a letter complaining of aggressive policing at Anfield. Anybody remember PC 8375 from that match? Pulled out of seat for celebrating. That would never happen at Anfield would it?

Another letter entitled “One law for the Rich?”  explained that the police had advised the FA that ALL clubs should hold cup replays 10 days after the original fixture. This is because the police couldn’t find the man power for replays within a period of 8 days. One club however had announced that they had reached an agreement with Merseyside police and their reply with Crewe would take place just two nights after the original tie. That team was… of course Liverpool. Liverpool getting treated differently? That would never happen would it?

For those of you who thought that the attendance against Rosenberg was poor last season. On Wednesday the 12th of February 1992 Chelsea played a home tie against Southampton in front of just 7,148. One correspondent even consulted his Luton programme and saw that Luton Town had not had an attendance that low as their average was 8,022. Luton with more loyal fans? Surely not. I was there, were you? On the same night Stoke versus West Bromwich attracted 23,000.

On the same page there’s some interesting letters concerning a possible ground share with Twickenham. One, from Clayton Beerman points out two possible problems. The lack of floodlights and the long grass more suited to Rugby. Surely Plough lane would have been ample for the 7,148 that turned up for the Southampton match.

LJ Moth wrote in to explain the poor attendance for the Man Utd game. The attendance was 23,000 and Mr Moth blames the recession and that the game was televised.

Some people were not happy with the signing of Tony Cascarino. Tim Philips described Tony as a badly co-ordinated young giraffe. That’s harsh on the giraffe if you ask me.  To his credit, Tony did subsequently go to Marseille where he banged in the goals and became a cult hero.

Mike Wild complains that only 3 teams have won the league over the last 10 years and quote the FA Cup as the only realistic silverware. Adrian Bliss wants the old badge reinstated and some scouser writes in to say how good humoured the Chelsea fans were at the recent victory.

What is going on?

Jim Ross writes in disgust at the portrayal of Chelsea in the media. Even with recent victories against Everton in the Cup and Liverpool in the league, Jimmy Hill described the Everton fixture as cart-horses versus thoroughbreds. Guess who the cart-horses were. John Motson’s contribution was to mention how delightful it was to see that the police had time for a fag and that they were not deployed on more serious matters.

Tributes to the Shed

Finally, in this bumper 48 page issue. There’s tributes to the Shed End. John King recalling his childhood standing in the Shed.

Most notably he recalls the Shed being “powerful and mysterious”. He remembers 62,000 versus Spurs with 10,000 locked out in the rain.

Another incident related to is Malcolm Allison’s flash coat and hat which led to “Kung Fu Fighting” as the North Stand “displayed aggression” towards the Palace fans.

He also comments that the Shed were really the sound track for the “North Stand Nutters”.

John also remembers Millwall in the Shed and the promotion party when the Shed took on the smell of a small brewery. Everyone was drunk and Hull City were thrashed 4-0. Happy days.

Right that’s it for now. I’m off to dig out another issue to reminisce over. If you like this kind of feature please let me know and I might even do another.

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