So ya, thought ya, thought ya might like to go to the show? To feel the warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow. Tell me is something eluding you, sunshine? Is this not what you expected to see? If you wanna find out what’s behind these cold eyes, you’ll just have to claw your way through this disguise.
I recently had the privilege of seeing Roger Waters perform the Pink Floyd masterpiece The Wall at the O2 Arena. It’s an everyday tale of the devastating impacts of the loss of a father during WWII, of bullying teachers undermining your creativity, of overbearing and overcompensating motherly love and manipulative demanding wives. All of this whilst trying to become a success within a band tearing itself apart with petty differences but being forced by record companies into presenting a sane and unified face to the world.
What the fuck, I hear you say, has this to do with us? Well, during the course of his life the main character, Pink, builds his metaphorical mental walls which he hides behind and which protect him from these influences, but ultimately also form the reason for his demise as he becomes detached from the reality of the world he lives in, increasingly unable to cope with the isolation and self inflicted wounds.
In other words, he’s a basket case.
Now do you see?
Although it seems a recent phenomenon we have in fact been victims of this since we were formed. Throughout our long and proud history we’ve suffered the loss of father figures and never quite got to grips with mourning them before some replacement comes in. I remember losing Dave Sexton, the man who won us the cup and stuck the allegorical Chelsea syringe into my arm giving me my first fix of a drug I’ll never be free of. Others will look at Tommy Docherty the same way, some Ruud Gullitt, Luca Vialli or Claudio. For many it will of course be Jose Mourinho. Some oddballs may even feel the same about Avram Grant. In the modern day Chelsea of course it’s Jose who’ll haunt us like the lost father. He loved us the fans, he loved the club, he loved the players and for the most part we loved him back. But he went and I still think we’re struggling to deal with the legacy of that unswerving belief and unconquerable side. Ultimately we all have a father within Chelsea that’s gone and for whom we can never replace. Stepfathers come and go according to mothers’ whims and fancies (see Mother later), but none replace the original.
Daddy’s flown across the ocean. Leaving just a memory. A snapshot in the family album. Daddy what else did you leave for me? Daddy what d’ya leave behind for me? All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.
So, who are the teachers in all of this? Who is rapping our knuckles when we express a desire to be different? Who is bellowing in our ear when we attempt to break the mould and be creative? Who is stifling our growth and development into something unique in order to keep us within their paradigms of acceptability and what they consider to be normal? Sadly for me this is the murky figures that operate behind the scenes of our club. It is Gourlay and his motley crew of bean-counting dullards. People who desire success under their rules in order to drive profit and increase revenue irrespective of the cost to the fabric of the club and least of all with any notion of regard for the fans. It’s people like the vacuous Bruce Buck, wheeled out to be the smiling Yankee face of the business side of the club, but a man with no soul. If you clawed your way through his disguise and looked behind his eyes, you would see nothing, just a dark, empty cold void of evil. Subsequent coaches have also been part of this. They all know the ‘right’ way of playing. They are stubborn and see only their vision. Like the teachers at my school they come from very different backgrounds but were all trained in the mantra of “Teacher knows best”. I’m not saying Jose was different, he too was very paternal and unilateral in his views, but he was the original and for me, the best. Name me the ‘Chelsea’ style of playing? We hear it from Arsenal, Newcastle, West Ham, Manchester United, Liverpool, Spurs, Barcelona etc…. but no-one ever talks of the Chelsea style. Why? Because we’ve never been allowed to develop it by the teachers.
When we grew up and went to school, there were certain teachers who would hurt the children in any way they could. By pouring their derision upon anything we did, exposing every weakness however carefully hidden by the kids.
But in the town, it was well known when they got home at night, their fat and psychopathic wives would thrash them within inches of their lives.
Aah, never mind though. We have Mother to look after us. Mother Roman in this case. When we need him he pulls us into his huge warm financial bosom and succours us. Ironically he does this when we don’t need it as well. Sometimes when we do need it we find him gallivanting with strangers at the Tea Dance leaving us on the sidelines having to make do with an awkward unwanted dance with a tall plain older girl who doesn’t want to be there either. But deep down he loves us and will never let us go. What can we do? He’s Mother, we need him and he needs us. A mutually dependent can’t live with each other, can’t live without each other and all other variants of relationship.
Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry. Mother’s gonna make all your nightmares come true. Mother’s gonna put all her fears into you. Mother’s gonna keep you right here under her wing. She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing. Mama will keep baby cosy and warm. Ooh baby ooh baby ooh baby. Of course Mama’s gonna help to build the wall.
And finally. Call the defendant’s wife!
C’mon you lot, put your knickers on, that’s us! Yes, us, the infatuated, spoilt fans. The ones who truly love the club. To the point of obsessiveness. It’s our club, not theirs! When in reality it has always been theirs. It’s always belonged to the teachers, to Mother, and all we’ve done as fans is stolen the club’s heart temporarily until normal service is resumed. But we spend our money and we debate endlessly what’s best for the club. We nag perpetually about what it should do, what it shouldn’t do, what it can or can’t do even though we know it’ll ignore us and do what it wants. We let it penetrate us even when we’re not in the mood. We do our wifely duty. We are eternally loyal and eternally manipulative and demanding. When we get what we want we demand more. We’re rarely happy and yet we can’t leave. We won’t leave. We took the vows and we belong to the club for life. We know it’s mad, clinically insane. Over the rainbow. Truly gone fishing. But we don’t care. For richer for poorer, for better for worse, in sickness and in health, until death us do part.
Together we are Chelsea.
All alone, or in twos, the ones who really love you walk up and down outside the wall. Some hand in hand and some gathered together in bands. The bleeding hearts and artists make their stand.
And when they’ve given you their all some stagger and fall, after all it’s not easy banging your heart against some mad bugger’s wall.
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!
*With apologies to Roger Waters for the shameless use of such truly wonderful and poetic lyrics