The end of the eighties and turn of the nineties were good years to be following the Blues. Most of us were simply pleased to see us compete in the top division rather than yo-yo between divisions like West Ham do today with style. Or lack of it. The Editor of the Chelsea Independent was Nick Brown and I’ll leave him to describe those years in his own words.
“The years I was editor were great years (1989-1992). The Blues held themselves in the first/Premier but never quite impressed. Prices rose at the ground, the ‘end of the Shed was nigh, the ownership situation was still uncertain and Chelsea continued to lose to lower division sides in the Cups.”
“There were ‘ups’. Winning at Anfield was one of them. The 6-4 win at Derby was another (for younger Blues fans, dig out a copy of this game – it’s a Blues classic). Chelsea’s European travels in those days consisted of pre-season friendlies in Scandinavia and Ireland or Cross-Channel trophy matches with Le Havre. After some dreadful cup performances we finally reached some semi-finals only to lose to Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday (still painful memories).”
“The centre pages of issue 22 of the Chelsea Independent greeted Chelsea’s superb 3-0 victory at White Hart Lane in a cup that we believed was ours. The Independent also got two in-depth interviews with Pat Nevin and David Webb. With the advent of new IT hardware and software, the Chelsea Independent began to lose its literal cut and paste look of its early issues. When Ross Fraser took over the Editorship for issue 34, colour finally splashed out.”
“Looking at the last issue I edited, it is amazing how far we’ve come. Chelsea finished mid-table as usual; fans were protesting about Jason Cundy’s sale to Rottenham; the ground was still not ‘safe’; Chelsea lost to Leeds but still outsang them at Elland Road; a rising star was interviewed for the Indie while on loan at Cardiff (his name was Eddie Newton) and Andrew Wrench, a rising new contributor who was later to become editor, told us how he ‘hated Arsenal from the heart’.”
The Chelsea Independent fanzine still remains a well-loved publication by older fans. Mention ‘the Indie’ and memories of reading a sodden copy on the tube journey home after we’ve lost yet another home game on a damp Saturday renders a warm glow to the heart. It’s best quality was its humour. Funny to the core and deeply irreverent, the Indie often left reader’s helpless with laughter. We’ve all got our favourite articles but a London Scene round-up in Issue 100 where London Clubs were ‘reviewed’ was a typical Indie joke-fest. Here’s the reviewer talking about the Arse and Wenger’s inability to see any match decisions that might affect his team:
“They always said there was no such thing as the perfect crime, well they are wrong. If you’re a burglar, all you have to do is break into Arsene Winger’s house whilst he’s at home. All you need do is wear an Arsenal shirt and you can nick what you like, you could even give him an elbow and flatten him with a smack in the mouth. One thing is for sure, if you’re wearing that shirt, he won’t see a f**king thing.”
Mark Meehan, Editor of the Indie in the mid-nineties, collected the pick of the Indie’s articles over a period of ten years and wrote the book, “From Save The Bridge to Wemberlee”. A sort of ‘Fever Pitch’ for Chelsea fans, the book spans years of desperation at being almost Groundless to winning the FA Cup in 1997. There are still some copies for sale (at £10 I believe) and if anyone is interested we’ll forward enquiries to Mark Meehan himself. Simply email [email protected] Any true blue who was too young during those years to really remember what it was like supporting Chelsea owes it to him/herself to buy and read this book. When you realise how lucky you are in 2005, you’ll never even think of booing a current Chelsea player, let alone opening your gob to do so. It’s about heritage.
Footnote: thanks again to Nick Brown for additional information and Dave Faulkner.