Did some earth shattering apocalyptic event happen this weekend? Was the natural world order turned upside down? Am I dreaming or does the whole of the UK seem to be bouncing today? Will I drive through streets of bunting, with children on half-term merrily dancing round poles, watched by smiling adults to the tune of “You’re shit, and you know you are”? Will there be groups of balaclava wearing, footballing fanatical extreme militant groups waving wooden rattles and giant bananas, shrieking like banshees and burning flags with Chelsea’s crest on it? Will Al-Jazeera TV be renamed Al-Hansen TV as the country, nay the world unites to celebrate the imminent demise of the new Roman Empire? Or did we just lose a game of football?
I’ve been barracked relentlessly at work today because my beloved Chelsea lost a game at the weekend to a bunch of Northern clog dancing whippet and pigeon breeders. In fact as I walked through the open plan office thoroughfare of sometime Newcastle, Arsenal, Southampton (no please don’t laugh… please), Liverpool, Bolton and Spurs fans I received a warm (in the same way that you might consider a face full of hydrochloric acid as warm) round of applause. Oh, how the egg chasers and the ice hockey fans laughed at the predicament of someone they barely know and whose team lost in a sport they know nothing about. Oh how the non believers of the religion of football were quick to flay the back of Tony with their barbed but stupidly moronic comments along the lines of “Never mind it’s only a cup” and “Waste of time… 22 grown men chasing an inflated bladder etc.” as I trudged though the office. Yes, they must have thought… yes… he has the mark of Cain on him. He is shamed and surely an early death through a ritual office stoning would soon follow.
It’s true I did trudge into the office this morning, but not because we were beaten but because my wife actually chose to drive yesterday and let me have a drink whilst meeting some friends we met on holiday. Was this excessive amount of Guinness consumed because of a football match? No, it was because Mrs Glover never offers to drive and let me have a drink, so therefore this rare treat was too good to turn down. And also because I rather like Guinness.
But I digress… back to the office footballing luminaries… some of whom have even been to a real match! Oh how they laughed at the fate of the once mighty Chelsea, whose season is now surely over after their second defeat of the season, a season which is over two thirds of the way to its completion. Of course my totally underwhelming “hands up, we were well beaten” reaction was the equivalent to me chucking a bucket of my excess Guinness urinary waste over their fireworks.
But inside it is still a shock. Middlesbrough, a smallish town dwarfed in footballing historical status terms by those other great north eastern footballing giants of… er… Sunderland (stuck to the bottom of the Premiership with a hefty dollop of “No More Nails”) and Newcastle (no trophies for 50 years and being run by Glen Roeder, a man notable for… oh yeah… getting West ham relegated) and… er… Hartlepool (whose inhabitants allegedly once hung a monkey they thought was a French spy) were presented as a David to our Goliath, and just like the apocryphal biblical tale, David got his slingshot stone through our defences three times (match report now completed). Deservedly so as well, because in this instance Goliath had turned up for the fight suffering from three well known afflictions: complacency, arrogance and laziness.
I wrote here a few weeks ago about the disease of complacency and how the physician-in-chief, professor Jose Mourinho, would prevent this from happening, or would have the cure ready should it transpire to infect the camp. And I still believe this is the case. I believe he wasn’t just dealing with this pernicious disease though. I believe he is now dealing with a hybrid disease of complacency combined with arrogance and laziness. To watch the players this weekend was like watching a team that has been subjected to an Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In fact I may well write to the government to see if any strange UFOs were reported over the Chelsea player homestead of Cobham last week, and whether any unusual pod like flora has been spotted in the area. In essence the players believed the hype in the media surrounding our alleged invincibility, a sure-fire way of opening the door to the aforementioned variant disease. I still believe the Special One can administer a cure and that this will be effective providing no-one re-instates the curse of Stamford Bridge, which aligned to the above variation on the disease of complacency has foretold the doom of many a potentially bright Chelsea dawn.
What is this curse I hear you ask? Well this is my theory: John Terry, a marvellous captain and a truly brilliant centre-back has awoken the curse. This is a curse so insidious and destructive that whenever raised before it has precipitated a run of bad results that would give opposing teams the right to chant “Normal service is resumed” at us. I groaned inwardly as I heard the interview on Radio 5 Live where Terry publicly spoke the words that have bought the curse on use before: “Yes, we believe we can do the treble” (translated in curse language to “Pleaseohgodsoffootballdonotletuswinanythingformanymanyyears”… a wish these vindictive sporting gods are only too willing to accommodate).
John Dempsey once said this in the papers in about 1973, just before the East Stand virtually bankrupted us and so began a decade or more of decline and mediocrity. I then heard David Speedie say it to the press once when it looked like the combination of him and Kerry Dixon might end the trophy drought, but no, we followed that up with a couple more relegations in what could best be described as a 20 year period of transition. Since Glenn Hoddle took over though, all Chelsea players have dispensed with muttering these fateful words to anyone. Claudio Ranieri years excepted, look how well we’ve done since. But at least he didn’t get us relegated despite winning zilch under his tenure. I now believe that Mourinho now has to administer the cure. He needs to get Terry to stand before the press and say the antidotal words: “We’re not thinking about any trophies, we just want to win games and see what that brings us,” which translates in curse language to “Sorrybutwewillnotsayanythinglikethateveragainandwillnevertrytotemptfateprettypleaseweareveryverysorry”.
I know some people of my acquaintance think I’m an airy fairy Chelsea fan who has just jumped on the glory hunting bandwagon that Manchester United very kindly lent us in order to help with the onrush of prawn sandwich munching “nouveau fans” that we have acquired. But the truth is that after 35 years of supporting them through thin, sometimes even thinner and at times anorexically thin, I am reaping the just reward for my faith in what seemed to be permanently dubbed the nearly team of London. And that’s why I don’t want us to return to previous days of non-achievement. As daft as my theory might seem it is indicative of the lengths I would go to in order to ensure we remain in our new found position as the best team in England and perhaps one day Europe as well. Put into perspective it’s now two defeats in 26 games this season, and three defeats in two seasons overall (64 games). If we can ensure the curse does not linger over us then we can get back to our winning ways. Treat this defeat like the smack across the proverbial arse we needed and truthfully probably deserved.
But with our record thus far it’s hardly time for “The wheels have come off!” is it?