Stamford Bridge and the Missing Rag Doll

Posted by Olly on April 28, 2005, 04:22:17 PM

European away games in your own country don't make any sense.  There isn't the sense of adventure that you get with going abroad.  You don't get to see new places and meet friendly people.  As a result, and in desperate need for another chaotic journey through unknown lands, we investigated the possibility of flying to another European city having a pre-game adventure, and then travelling back to the open sewer that is London for the game.  Eventually common sense prevailed as we all realised quite how poor we've become this season, and a day trip to Stamford Bridge it had to be.

And so it was that I woke up the day of the game and started to pack.  Usually I go through a mental list of 'must have' items - passport, driving licence, match tickets, banner, hostel confirmation, flight tickets, maps, paracetemol, ear plugs, wallet and keys.  In to the bag and then we're off, usually in a mad rush to make the plane.  Subconsciously I went through this routine again, and just as I set foot out the door it dawned on me that I was carrying far too much stuff.  A few minutes later and I was on my way with the banner, match tickets, wallet and keys.  Seemed very odd.

At midday I picked up a pretty dishevelled looking Plum at Victoria Station, and we popped into a nearby pub for pre-lunch bevies.  At around 5 euro a beer though we didn't stay long, and so headed out into the smog to find a cheaper alternative.  We stumbled across a Sam Smiths pub down a back street and at 3 euro a beer stayed for a couple of pints and a huge burger whilst laughing at the ugly Chelsea that call London home.  Out into the smog again, and we headed towards Trafalgar Square, jumping into another small pub as it pelted down with rain.

It was about 3 o'clock as we walked up Whitehall towards Trafalgar Square, and there at the base of Nelson's Column was the huge Irregulars Flag.  An awesome sight, and proof that the Red Men were in town.  There were a good few reds milling around already, and a few banners were in prime position in front of the National Gallery.  Up went Purple Bins alongside them, we headed across the road to stock up on beer and then returned to meet up with the rest of our usual lot.  A football was being kicked high in to the sky as the beers started to flow, and as the square began to fill up and turn more and more red the songs rang out one after another.  It didn't take long for the bizzies to turn up - unsurprisingly really as our plans had been broadcast all over the internet - and they quickly confiscated the football to everyone's disappointment, not least the on-looking snappy happy tourists.  Fair play to the police though, they seemed friendly enough, and as more and more reds piled on Nelson's Column, jumping up and down waving banners and scarves, a real festival atmosphere was created.  Another cracking example of some of our fans.

One song boomed out mocking our hosts and I've been singing it ever since:

F*ck off Chelsea FC
You aint got no history
4 European Cups and 18 Leagues
That's what we call History!

The three hours flew by, and it seemed like a bit of an inconvenience to have to go to the game.  We all piled on to a jam packed tube to take us to Fulham Broadway and continued to sing and bounce up and down.  The look on the usually stone faced commuters was brilliant - one of huge shock.  They'd never seen anything like it!

We walked in to the ground with a good 45 minutes till kick off.  Desperate for a piss I looked around trying to locate the toilets under the East Stand, and couldn't find one anywhere.  I found a blue door on one wall, tried it, it opened and I walked in.  Looking round I noticed a row of tiny seats, a couple of play pens, some posters on the walls spelling out the alphabet and a load of toys.  I'd somehow managed to walk in to the Chelsea crèche.  Wandering round I couldn't find Joe Cole spitting his dummy out anywhere, but to my relief I did find a couple of small toilets.  Walking back towards the door, something fell off a box and landed at my feet.  I picked it up, and turned it round.  In my hands I had hold of a 2 foot rag doll, with a clown's face, a bright red plastic nose and a big red hat.  Now bear in mind that I was fairly drunk, and as such sometimes get confused.  Nevertheless, I still have no idea why I thought to myself "Hmm, this might come in handy", and shoved it in my bag with the banner!

Standing in the horrible away end the lads were as confused as I was as to why I had a child's doll in my bag, but we had more important things to worry about as the teams ran out on to the pitch.  I personally thought we were excellent, and could easily have snatched a vital away goal.  Baros didn't do much in the game but he brought out a fantastic save from their keeper.  The referee was once again appalling, and the yellow card that Alonso got given was nothing short of a disgrace.  Our fans were loud and passionate and at one point in the first half the excellent Rafa Benitez song was sung continuously for 20 minutes.  I love it when we do that.  Aidan, along with most reds, doesn't like Fat Frank Lampard very much.  However, Aidan's dislike for him borders on the obsessive and unhealthy.  At one point in the game Aidan shouts abuse at the ugly midfielder, and worried that he is not being heard decides to leg it to the front of the stand to ensure that the media's hero can enjoy the full repertoire!

After clapping the lads off the pitch we wander out into the night to mix with the Chelsea gentry.  Don't you just love the way that everyone covered in Burberry feels the need to scowl shouting "What you looking at?" whilst you just grin at them.  We made our way on to the packed tube singing and dancing to the annoyance of the Chelseaki fans, and as we got off we were treated to a torrent of abuse from those still on the train.  It's very easy swearing at people from a train as its doors close, but it doesn't quite fit the tough Chelseaki image does it?

We made our way in to the centre of the city, and found a pub full of reds drinking the night away.  Our new friend the rag doll came out of the bag and took pride of place by a window as we continued to sing and dance.  Some time later, and with another pint in hand I stood there smiling as the realisation dawned that on Tuesday I'll be watching the most important game of my life.  I'm already nervous, but roll on Istanbul.

In the meantime, I need a name for our new friend. Any suggestions?

© Olly 2005

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