OVER LAND AND SEA: NEW YORK CITY
It was the big battle of Nevada Smith’s and Arsenal had always had the upper hand as they had the numbers although they could never win outright in the singing department. It was the New York Blues versus the New York Gooners and this year was going to be different. We had flooded the email groups with messages for all Blues to turn up at the pub for the big match and Steven Cohen of Fox Football Friday (television show) was even coming too and bringing a television camera man with him so that footage in the pub could be shown later on his television show.
It was December 12, 2004, and Chelsea were to play Arsenal at Highbury with a 4pm Sunday kick-off. This meant that the game started at 11am in New York so we were in the pub at opening time, which was 9am, and the singing began immediately. By game time, the pub was packed and had closed its doors to latecomers. It was very apparent that there was more Blue than Red in the pub and we had very little noise from those in Red. That changed in less than two minutes when Thierry Henry scored the opener. As soon as they scored, we belted out quite a few choruses of “Carefree” so that the Arsenal fans couldn’t get their songs started. We then continue with our songs. It was total domination by the Blues in the atmosphere department and a very happy Blue day.
Of course, the game ended 2-2 but everyone in the pub had a great time, even the Gooners.
Of course, it wasn’t always like this
My family moved to New York in December, 1978. Chelsea said goodbye to me by losing 7-2 at Middlesbrough. A very tough away day and an incredibly long and dour train ride back to London. Oh, well! Goodbye Ealing, hello New York!
Getting a Chelsea result back in the late 1970’s and 1980’s meant that we needed to buy the Sunday New York Times on a Saturday night (about 10pm) to read the result. Of course, there were days when we believed the scores were misprints! Did we really win 7-3 at Orient? We beat Newcastle 6-0? That can’t be right! If the paper didn’t have the result, then we had to wait for the English Sunday papers to go on sale in New York on the Monday. Two days to get the Chelsea result! When my brother Steve and I read that we beat Grimsby away 1- 0 in 1984, we were singing Chelsea songs on Broadway to bemused onlookers as we headed back home!
Times changed and seeing Chelsea matches on the telly became a reality. We had been nomad Blues since the mid-90’s moving around from various pubs like Kinsale Tavern, McCormack’s Pub in New York City and even Mulligans in Hoboken, New Jersey. It was a bloke named Peter Bockman that had told Steve about a pub called Nevada Smith’s (74 Third Avenue, between 11th and 12th Streets in Manhattan) so we made a trip to that pub. It was 1998 and this Nevada Smith’s was definitely a Manchester United pub, but the Director of Football (Jack Dermot Keane) made us feel very welcome and his passion for the game was obvious. A home had been found! There were very few Blues in the pub so Steve decided that we needed to get the email addresses of all Blues that we met so that we could organise ourselves and be able to let everyone know when Chelsea were televised. We became the unofficial New York Blues. As time moved on, our numbers grew!
Many of us joined the official supporters club in the US at that time, the DC Blues, which later became the US Blues as Chelsea fans from around the country became members.
In 2002, a group of us New Yorkers decided that we were large enough to split from the US Blues and form our own supporters club. We held a meeting, voted on the officers and became an Official Supporters Club of Chelsea.
Since then, we’ve made annual trips to the Bridge, with our numbers coming over increasing each year and, with a huge thanks to Diane Broom, the Supporters Club Manager at Chelsea, we’ve been able to present a player with our player of the year award each year too! We’ve organized get togethers for Chelsea fans from both the US and the UK when Chelsea toured the US both in 2004 and 2005. And we’ll be present in Chicago. We even had the extreme pleasure of welcoming Chelsea legend Kerry Dixon to Nevada Smith’s during Chelsea summer tour last year, and that was an amazing night!
To celebrate Chelsea winning the league in 2005, we organised an open top double decker bus ride through the Times Square area of New York City, where we sang songs and celebrated the Premiership in style. And, just like after the Grimsby match all those years ago, the reaction from onlookers was the same only this time it was a lot more Blues singing the songs!
If you’re coming to New York City, send us an email and give us a visit. You can read more about us at www.freewebs.com/newyorkblues and the televised football schedule can be found at Nevada Smith’s http://newyork.menupalace.com/.