This is something that I wrote a few years ago for the FA Cup game versus recent opponents Norwich City in 2005. I love to recycle old rubbish so here it is again.
Chelsea games versus Norwich are always magical experiences for us simple folk in the east of England. For me, they are the chance to show everybody who knows me exactly what I have been banging on about day in, day out. Chelsea FC
Most people up here remember the 1973 league cup game with fondness — the one that was fogged off and replayed, resulting in Chelsea losing. Everybody up here remembers that one. Another one is the 1986 game at Stamford Bridge when it absolutely slashed down on a Wednesday night. Chelsea needed to win to qualify for Europe and Norwich needed to win to stay up. Liverpool’s ill-fated game in Heysel made sure that neither happened. Norwich were relegated on the last day of the season as Coventry thumped league champions Everton 4–1. Cue quiet contentment from me.
In fairness, I do not think that there has been much to shout about up here over the last 25 years, football wise anyhow. One thing that I could shout about was Chelsea’s support. Much greater in number and more vociferous than any that Norwich can muster. Norwich fans are not the most passionate in the world. Indeed, they are as many people imagine, shirt wearing, happy clapping, flask drinking people who seem to turn up in the way that normal people attend the cinema, to be entertained. (Although full marks to the Norwich support who since 2000 have sold entire allocations at the Bridge, which some of the more fashionable clubs don’t.)
Funnily enough, while chatting to a guy named Gary Jones about six years ago, we talked about a pub on the corner of Carrow Road that my mate’s dad, Mick, used to run. Mick happened to be a Chelsea fan, straight out of Battersea, so when Chelsea were in town his pub was naturally a Chelsea pub. As a weird twist of fate, Gary was in this pub the 1981/82 season and took a few pictures that he stuck on his website.
For you oldies and those of you who can remember drinking in a pub on Carrow Road, it was made out of stone, blended in with the City Wall and was called the Jolly Jester. It was knocked down years ago, but you can still see where it used to be if you can be bothered to look.
If you happen to be a young fan or someone who has only recently jumped on the Chelsea bandwagon, then you should visit his site, print it out and read it. It will open your eyes on supporting Chelsea pre international stars and big bucks. Gary’s site It can be found at: www.algonet.se/~datacaf1/index2.html
Talking of pubs, about twenty years ago there was a night organised by the East Anglian Blues. These guys were made up of exiled Blues fans and one of them used to own a pub called Brundall Yare. The players at the time were invited to a party organised there after a game at Norwich. Never ones to spurn a free drink, the whole squad turned up, including Mickey Droy, and were locked in for the night.
After a few years of rampaging through the old division two, Chelsea were at last promoted to the heady heights of the first division in 1984 and my boys were coming to town. I am not sure how many fans came up from west London that day, but they did me proud. In true Chelsea tradition the result was 0–0, but the noise generated at Carrow Road had people talking for a few weeks. I can remember a ‘One Man Went to Mow’ that involved the standard Barclay Stand allocation, the overflow section and what seemed like most of the South Stand. Other home areas were infiltrated by the visitors, as I heard my workmates moan about it the following Monday.
Before that game, the pubs considered rough on a Saturday night were taken over by the Blues on Saturday dinnertime.
I haven’t missed a Carrow Road clash since I can remember, but I do not think that Chelsea have won too many of them, Norwich always raise themselves for the people from the smoke. I can remember one in 1987 when Steve Clarke made his debut — I think we lost 2–1. I am sure that this was the year after we lost 3–0.
It was around this time that I was a courier for my sins and one of my trips was to pick up some tickets from Carrow Road and deliver them to Stamford Bridge. They were Chelsea’s allocation for the weekend’s match. Can you believe that Eddie Barnett would not let me purchase one even though I had delivered the bloody things?
Another good day out was the day that Sutton United came east. Although they lost 8–0 there were quite a few Chelsea fans in the ground and it was a good laugh to say the least.
The defeat in 1992 cost me dearly: a job and a couple of years of stick. It was the year that Chelsea bought a certain Robert Fleck and a few months after he said that he would walk over broken glass to sign for Leeds United.
Legend has it that Terry Venables and Ken Bates had a gentlemen’s agreement — that is unique in itself. The arrangement was that Chelsea would not bid for Teddy Sheringham provided Spurs stayed away from Fleck. Blinding deal.
The game was the first away match of the season and the first in front of an all-seated Barclay end, where I had my seat. I should have been at work but how could I work when Chelsea were in town? Of course, I was laid off the next day as I had not turned up the day before. It was the first time that I had not sat with the Chelsea faithful at a Norwich game and it was kind of weird watching your own fans going through their motions. After a while it soon became apparent that there were a few others in and around where I was, so we joined in anyway.
One of the funniest moments was when a couple of stewards tried to remove a rogue Chelsea fan from the home section until they saw that there were in fact dozens more who were not too happy about it. Chelsea lost 2–1 with Mark Robins scoring for the Canaries. Fleck was not allowed to play due to just being signed for £3 million, not that he would have made any difference.
Another season and another defeat, this time 3–0 and a hat-trick from Ashley Ward. This caused more embarrassment for me as a couple of Chelsea fans were ejected from the home area and waited outside for the culprit who grassed them up. When they spotted the grass they roughed him up a bit outside. How do I know all these details? The grass was my barber’s brother. I guess that explains my dodgy haircut.
Since this match the fortunes of each club have changed dramatically. Chelsea, of course, on their day are one of the best teams in the country, full of International stars. Norwich are a half-decent first division outfit. Norwich as a city has also changed. This year has seen the opening of a new hospital and a millennium library. The area around Carrow Road has been reinvented as a shopping district and is the place to be seen at night. If you have not been for a couple of years you will not recognise the place. Let’s just hope that Chelsea will be unrecognisable to the team that usually take to the field up here and that I can spend the rest of the season with a smile on my face.