Can you remember a team called Leeds United? Well just over 5 years ago we played them and they beat us. Dave McCrossen travelled up to the match and this is an article that he sent in shortly afterwards.
It is a long drive back from Leeds, made worse when they have beaten you, but it gave me lots of opportunities to think about how low I felt, and how the blues could put me through this emotional turmoil!
A little over nine years ago, November 22 1993 to be exact, I sat with my son in the family stand at Stamford Bridge and watched a pile of rubbish draw 0-0 with Manchester City.
It was a freezing cold night – and boy, do I mean cold – with just over 10,000 fans in attendance. I remember about one attempt on goal, a Neil Shipperley header, and that my coffee went cold in about three seconds. I think it was also the last game played before the terracing was demolished to make way for the Matthew Harding stand. Kevin Hitchcock even came and sat with us, as we were about the only people daft enough to be in there.
“Get on,” I told him, “You can’t be any worse than the rest of them.” Oh happy days!
But what exactly has this got to do with Leeds? Well plenty actually. We got beaten 2-0 today, and that means we remain in second place in the Premiership. I came away from that City game totally fed up with Chelsea – wasting my money in the freezing cold, only to have my heart broken.
But I was back two weeks later to see us draw with the mighty Ipswich Town – in between we had lost to Sheffield United – and that really is my point.
Losing and staying second, drawing and remaining in 18th, is there any difference? Is the pain any less or any more? I suppose when your stars are Hasselbaink and Zola as opposed to Paul Furlong and Shipperley you have a right to have higher expectations.
But were our expectations any less then than they are now? I’m not so sure. Each season before kick-off I had this undying belief that we were going to win the league. Even when we had Darren Barnard and Andy Myers for goodness sake!
The strangest thing to me is that this season my expectations were as low as they had ever been. I had little faith in the manager and was concerned our finances appeared to be in such a state that we could only afford to sign one player, who I had never heard of, from some second string Spanish club. And he was free!
Nearly five months into the season and suddenly that expectation is back with a vengeance! Chelsea, my Chelsea, the only constant in my life, has done it to me again, lifting me up only to throw me back down again.
Do I feel any worse today than that day in May 1988 when Middlesborough sent us down? If we qualify for the Champions League will I feel any better than that wet day in Bolton when Clive Walker became one of my all time heroes by scoring the goal that kept us in the old second division?
Each time the answer is going to have to be no. And that is what drives Chelsea to the very heart of my soul and why I could never live without them. This emotional roller coaster is a ride without equal. I don’t want to end up like those sad Man United and Arsenal fans who despair because they lost one game, didn’t get a penalty or weren’t given enough added time.
Strange as it may sound, I quite enjoy the fact that on any given day I believe we will win the league and then the next think we are staring relegation in the face. But without those deep lows how we will ever learn to appreciate the highs?
Maybe I’ve read this all wrong. Maybe we are a club destined to win the league on only one occasion. Do I care? Do you care? Are you here to see us lift silverware or are you a fool like me?
One of the greatest moments in my life was when Furlong smashed in the second goal against Bruges in the European Cup Winners Cup. What did it get us other than a trip into the next round? Nothing. Ask an Arsenal fan for their highlight and it will be something akin to Nick Hornby’s famous book Fever Pitch.
Do I want to be taken over by that arrogance? Do I want to have to wear rose-tinted glasses for the rest of my life? Do I want to fail to see any foul ever committed by one of our players? No.
I know I’m not alone. Piers, who sits in front of me in the Matthew Harding stand, attended his 1,000th game last season. How big a commitment is that? How many good days have there been in that 1,000 and how many bad? Yet he is always there, come rain or shine, as are so many others.
So Chelsea, my Chelsea, I will be there at Highbury come New Years Day, full of hope, expectation and loads of turkey. If we win I will love you forever. Same if we lose.
That’s why I love my Chelsea, they are a mirror of life in general. Just when you thought things were going okay, we lose to Wigan. Just as your wife throws you out on the street, we beat Barcelona! You keep it going Chelsea. Come rain, snow or Chris Sutton – Piers, thousands of others and I will always be here, shouting at you to do better!