Kweku Amonoo-Quyst writes to CFCnet voicing concerns about the way in which we need to improve as fans for the betterment of this club. He genuinely feels strongly, that the message must be read as many Chelsea fans as possible. So here is Kweku’s feature. Please let us know what you think.
I’m writing about an issue that should concern us all, an issue which impacts not only on the current foundation of Chelsea Football Club but also on its future progression. For too long now, we as Chelsea fans have failed to give a support of genuine quality to the team at Stamford Bridge on a consistent basis. In the current season alone Claudio Ranieri, Marcel Desailly have remarked upon this and I firmly believe that is time the issue was tackled.
Trophies, players and stadiums may help in characterising a football club, but it is the fans that provide its true definition. A tired old cliché it may be, but it is the fans who are the heart and soul of the club. When all is said and done a players lasting memories of any club and the affection he may have for it can only come from his memories of what is like to represent the passions of the people who support it. Why else is it that players are proud to say that they played at Celtic Park (for example)? It is the fans who provide a clubs character and its ambition.
We as Chelsea fans just don’t seem to care about this; we turn up and expect a show at Stamford Bridge doing the bare minimum to lift the team. We seem happy to produce second rate support to the team.
One only has to look at the sort of things people say about Celtic Park or Ibrox, to see how far behind and how poor our support is these days. How easy is it to find anyone who doesn’t describe the atmosphere as “memorable” or the like for any of their home games? Even Claudio Ranieri talked about the terrific atmosphere that was created by the fans who were in a 25,000 seater stadium in Besiktas. We have a 40,000 seater stadium and the atmosphere isn’t half as good.
Support like that exemplified by other clubs around Europe, should be visible and audible. I love Chelsea football club and I am passionate for the club to succeed, there are thousands like me but it is a lie to suggest that a Stamford Bridge atmosphere lasts long in the memory except the odd occasion here and there. It seems Chelsea fans are ashamed to feel like the teams 12th man and to show that they love our team.
Excuses come thick and fast: Ticket prices, segregation of the hardcore, abolishment of terracing. They may be valid, but the reality is these are just excuses and it is feeble that they are continually peddled out. It is not hard to sing for 90 minutes. We did it against Liverpool last season, we did it so well against Lazio that Frank Lampard nearly swore on national TV in describing the support. If the noise of just a few hundred people can rock the “So” bar on the Fulham Rd at virtually every home game then 40,000 reproducing the same songs should be scaring the hell out of any opposition fan or team who ventures into SW6 looking for points. Like it or not we did not carry the team through the difficult periods we went through at Bolton and Portsmouth. This I’m afraid reveals a lot about our support. We MUST change.
It is no longer good enough for us to sit back and accept the fact that the away fans who travel with Chelsea are in a different league to those who come to Stamford Bridge. This is especially so when the players see fit to mention the problem, witness some of the comments of Frank Lampard and Graeme Le Saux in recent years.
In any case I have a few suggestions as to how we can start to recreate the atmosphere that Roy Bentley thought drove the team to our only Championship to date, and that Mickey Greenaway envisioned for the club. It is time we stopped making excuses and stood up to be counted.
1) Flags, Banners and Scarves
Chelsea Football Club is the passion of us all who take the time to think about it, watch it and are ambitious for it to succeed.
There must be a change in our somewhat (from what I have seen around the continent in comparison) English mentality to turn up club shirts, but do very little else to show the team on the pitch signs of their support. The players must see that fans are there for them and that for those 90 minutes Stamford Bridge is the Republic of Chelsea.
The club has its own role to play in this and it should encourage fans via the club’s media to bring Chelsea scarves to the matches and hold them up. The PA could be used to coordinate this either when one of the prematch favourites is being played. Chelsea Football Club is a passion not a day out at the cinema. This is what Marcel Desailly and Claudio Ranieri are referring to when they call for passion. This is sort of passion Marcel Desailly was used to at Milan and Marseille and the sort of thing Mickey Greenaway envisaged for Chelsea fans to be.
The issue of banners must be dealt with. We have an excellent club banner in the shape of the “Pride of London” banner with the Chelsea crest on it. Yet we are denied the opportunity to give an excellent public show of support that could be shown to the broadcast media at Stamford Bridge, because of internal club policy. This sort of approach is not forward thinking and frustrates any attempt to encourage the fans to show their support for the team. However, if we all got together and I mean really got together this wouldn’t even be an issue. How many of you even know that we are allowed banners into the ground so long as they are not attached to sticks or cover advertising hordings? We must be heard on such issues. Where are the Club’s supporters associations to represent us? Why are they constantly mute?
The longer the club behaves in this way, the longer our fans will be treated less seriously than those fans of clubs such as Liverpool and Celtic who do bring their club banner to home games and get it shown on TV. Yet the longer we as fans, continue to be quiet or to be indifferent, the longer we perpetuate this problem.We also deny ourselves good publicity as a great club with fans who care 100% for our team. The players must know what it means to play for this club
2) Coordinating the pre match build up
Kalinka and the Liquidator are superb ways of building up the support. The way in which it was used before the Man United game was a superb example of the way in which the support can be built up. Yet against Portsmouth it was played hastily as the players came out, resulting in a hopeless atmosphere until we scored (amongst the worst I have ever known at the Bridge).
Secondly, it cannot be good enough that we don’t have song for the players to come out to for every game. It denies our club the chance to build a character for itself in the way which it should. What is so annoying is that it could dealt with simply by taking a poll from the season ticket holders and members as to what song the team should run out to. It is not as if we don’t have a club song.
3) Songs for the players:
18 games have gone by and Damien Duff (our record signing), Claude Makelele, Glen Johnson and Joe Cole, have not been given songs that we consistently sing for them. Again this unnaceptable, we should be putting our minds to this glaring problem before anything else- we must never let them forget the quality of our support and the responsibility that comes not just for playing for the manager and the club, but for us as fans.
Next year is the club’s centenary and we celebrate it at a time when we stand on the brink of having a team that will carve a niche in the history of World Football- to fulfill ambitions we thought were only a dream. We as a club, supporters and management must be ambitious to see the club amass respect in all areas not just on the pitch. We must start taking ourselves as a club seriously in every area. The club must help the fans to support the team in the best way possible. No one is calling for this to be in the form of the ridiculous stadium announcers that tried to artificially create support so appallingly in the Nou Camp in 2000, but just for the club to help its fans in key areas to show their passion for the team. However, it is the fans who have to provide the foundation, we must be passionate for this club.
We can sit back and be complacent with the current situation and carry on being regarded as inferior in tradition to clubs like Liverpool in terms of our support. We can sit back and have our Captain and Manager call for us to have passion for our team in front of the eyes of opposing fans, or we can move forward and become universally accepted as having the best support around coupled with the best team. It is up to us.
“The club and the fans must show that we truly love this club and we will support it with all our hearts.”