Boy in Blue: Entering the Fold

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Christopher Ogden, and I was born in 14 BA, which stands for Before Abramovich (I felt that the year of our saviour’s arrival deserves to be recognised as an epoch). In the Gregorian calendar, this would be 1989, and therefore I am currently nearing the grand old age of eighteen. If I may, I would like to begin my contribution to this website by telling you all the story of my steady introduction to Chelsea fandom.

At the time of my birth, Chelsea Football Club had just been re-promoted to the First Division after a brief one-season spell in what is now known as the Championship. For the previous ten years, we had been largely inconsistent spending several seasons moving back and forth between England’s top two footballing divisions. The Eighties were the years of Ken Bates’ early tenure as chairman, most remembered by supporters for our powerful attacking force which consisted of players such as Kerry Dixon, Pat Nevin, Nigel Spackman and David Speedie under the management of John Neal and John Hollins. The club had made an extraordinary comeback from the brink of relegation to the then Third Division in the 1982-83 season, and with this promotion, they were to solidly establish themselves as a Premier League side.

Of course, at this time I was completely unaware of the astounding history surrounding Chelsea, as a baby growing up on a council estate in the suburbs of Manchester where I still reside. Living in Salford, the city is Red all over, and despite my father’s best attempts to nurture me as a Manchester United supporter, I had little attraction towards football; there were maybe a few kickabouts with old friends in the middle of the street, but otherwise, in my life, the sport was generally insignificant. I had more interest in writing and computer games.

That was until the summer of 1999, when Manchester United had just secured the famous Treble and were parading their newly acquired trophies to the adoring masses. My father took me to the city centre for the first time and we stood proudly among thousands of drunken and singing people of various gender, age and ethnicity as the team plodded by waving from their double decker bus. The atmosphere was electrifying. My memory of the event is a fleeting one, but significant nevertheless: I was still not an ardent team supporter (even though whenever I was asked about it by an adult, I dutifully replied ‘United’), or even one of football for that matter. However, a fondness for the game had nestled itself deep into my subconscious, ready to emerge when the time was right.

One evening several years later, I was sat alone in my living room flicking through several television channels in an attempt to find something worth my attention. My father had just returned home from work and was putting his coat back in the cloakroom. Suddenly, a similar noise to the one I heard years before made itself felt. I focused my eyes on the screen to see some footballers in blue trying to surge the ball forward late in the game with the score at 2-2. This was the second leg of our Champions League semi-final against AS Monaco in the 2003-04 season, a game that would ultimately end in heartbreak. It was also the first time I had actually watched Chelsea. Knowing they were English, due to my experience on football manager games, I silently urged them on against the horrendous odds stacked against them. After the final whistle blew and they were ejected from the competition, I sympathised with the evident devastation of the Chelsea squad. The most prominent image which struck me was that of Eidur Gudjohnsen trudging off the pitch in tears. I recall no definite memory that it was him, seeing as I had no clue who he was at the time, but I’ve steadily assured myself and others since that it was him and that was the exact moment in which I became a Chelsea supporter so it has become the truth regardless of whether it was.

I have no further recollection of Chelsea until the start of the season after, in which we first clinched the Premiership. During the first half of the season, I was still relatively indifferent to football, though while reading the sports section of the Sun newspaper my father bought every day (I only read what was put in front of me at the time) I saw of Chelsea’s exploits and smiled. My affinity for them was growing. By February, I had begun to watch televised games on an increasingly regular basis. I witnessed our lifting of the League Cup, the following drubbings of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United, and the Bolton away game in which Frank Lampard gave us the title, with our controversial Champions League semi-final loss to Liverpool in between. I was officially hooked, and began to publicly proclaim my support.

Since buying the shirt and proudly donning it, considering where I live, I appear to have offended several of the locals (the majority of insults, I find, are directed from the drivers of white vans as I walk by). However, I have not been deterred by this. Instead, my interest has developed into an obsession. I am eager to learn new Chelsea-related information on a daily basis, and any good or bad result that the team achieves seems to have an extremely positive or negative effect accordingly on my overall demeanour for the rest of the day. My life now almost constantly revolves around Chelsea.

I recognise how lucky I am to have come across Chelsea at such a successful period in their history, and would be fully willing to follow them through relegation and beyond if necessary. I acquired a membership over the past summer, and although I haven’t yet seen our boys in Blue or Stamford Bridge in the flesh due to current financial issues and time constraints, I am determined to witness my first home game this season as an absolute rite of passage. I’m hoping for Manchester United!

My final question now is: How did you all become Blues?

Since arriving here, I have always been welcomed and made to feel like a true member of the community, more so than all the other Chelsea sites. Thank you very much for this. I hope you enjoyed your Christmases, and here’s to a profitable 2007 both for ourselves, and for Chelsea Football Club!