If I remember correctly it was around this time (January 1997) that Mr Bates had the Chelsea Independent Supporters Association (CISA) in his sights and was giving them both barrels in his programme notes. I’ll let Mark Meehan fill you in with some of the quotes from the editorial of this issue.

Mark feels that now Matthew Harding had tragically been taken away from us, Bates had to pick on someone. Peter Middleton was high up on the list and so were the CISA.

His (Bates) first act was to ban the Blue Flag from the Liverpool Cup game. Mark felt (as did many others) that “the Blue Flag has played it’s part over the last few years . At home to Wolves in the quarter final, at Wembley for the Semi Final, home again to Zizkov and Bruges and Selhurst Park last season.” Mark says it wasn’t the CISA’s flag it was the fans flag. Ken Bates, had in effect, banned the fan’s flag.

Bates also asked the CISA members to enquire about the money that the CISA accumulated via the subs and magazine sales. Mark clarified everything by stating that the CISA have an Annual General Meeting every year where one of the main items was the accounts. At the same time of course Chelsea had a membership scheme which generated around £600-£700k. Chelsea gave no indication where that money had been spent.

Ken had called the CISA “gutless cowards.” Mark retorts that a gutless coward, according to the English Dictionary, is something that is “lacking determination.” Mark feels that the CISA had been in production for 10 years something that took a great deal of determination.

Finally Mark finishes with Ken’s accusation of the CISA’s cowardly behaviour. “As for cowardly behaviour I think that rubbishing a man when he was no longer here to defend himself would be a more appropriate definition of a coward.”

On the playing front Chelsea said farewells to Gavin Peacock, Terry Phelan and Jakob Kjeldbjerg quite recently.

Within the “View form the chair” pages. Ross Fraser talks more about Ken Bates, especially his comments about Matthew Harding. He also criticises the “shambolic way that our (Chelsea FC) ownership is quietly shifted around between anonymous and faceless front companies off shore.” Ross also comments on the vital trips to California to see the new score-board being built. The new scoreboard cost in the regions of £750,000. It was meant to be “state of the art”. (One of Ken’s favourite expressions.) But was no where near so good as Arsenal’s which was already 2 years old.

Mark Pulver also commented on the score-board in his feature, “Now call me old fashioned but …” Mark says that he was starting to enjoy the scoreboard in a “masochistic way”. He reminds us that the screen didn’t display the team changes and substitutions but the most annoying thing was when “there was a good move or outstanding individual play, the whole screen is lit up with a pink starburst, and the word WOW fills the screen.” Mark questions when anyone ever said the word “wow” at a football match.

Nick Brown lifts the lid on the infamous Celery song in an article called “Celery, Celery.” Nick says that the Celery song started around the time of winning the Members Cup and losing to QPR. The song took off in the 1986 / 87 season but did not include the throwing of celery. Nick’s first recollection of celery activity was during the fourth round cup match at Watford. “The celery crowd was several thousand strong and the song was sang heartedly with mass throwing of celery.” Nick remembers “it was like a plague of locusts.”

Next up was a game at Coventry where Nick witnessed the first arrest of a celery thrower. A “celery” away day at Blackburn in the Full Members followed.

Meanwhile back at Stamford Bridge the police were clamping down and we can all remember the piles of celery just as you got into the stadium. One pile was spotted at least 4 foot high!

The last away game of that season was against Wimbledon. In the preceding home programmes “warnings on missiles and celery were given and the police would arrest anyone in procession of celery.”

However celery made it into Plough Lane but its throwing was subdued until the Don’s fans chanted “Where’s your famous celery?” The police moved in but there were too many participants to contain and gave up.

Within the Colliespondence (that’s what it was called) section Martin Humphrey from SW4 takes a swipe at a previous Ron Harris interview. Ron says that he didn’t like the foreign influence on the game whereas Martin reckons that “Duberry, Newton, Lee, Morris and Clement would be better players for being more professional, for having Ruud coaching, Ade Mafe training and the Italians showing them how to dance around a clogger.”

Martin ends by saying, “You’re out of touch mate, We love the Italians.”

Alex Sanders from Brighton calls the CISA “hypocritical” over the sale of John Spencer. Spenny spoke out against the club in the media and the CISA criticised him for doing so. Even though of course, the CISA speaks out against the club quite regularly.

Stewart Thompson also criticised the CISA about an article in a previous issue related to The Senators Club.

Nick Brown wrote a feature called Still Drinking at Chelsea? where he looks at the price of a pint and suggests taking a 10 minute walk away from the Bridge to get value for your money. Nick recommends “The Ifield and The Finborough and sometimes the Firkin down Lots Road.” You won’t be surprised to find out that a pint of lager could range from £1.70 to £2.50, dependent on where you choose to drink.

Thanks all folks. Another CISA review coming soon.