"Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday, Monday, it was all I hoped it would be."
So sang The Mama’s and the Papa’s back in 1966 and as it is today’s apparent earworm it set me thinking. On this particular Monday it must be how we all feel. Even those, like me, for whom Monday is the Devil’s own day, signalling yet another week of traffic, toil and corporate bullshit to be endured, prior to indulging in a little something for the weekend. A weekend that involves copious amounts of a very famous Irish stout imbibed in a ridiculously short time, torturing myself via the challenge of a game involving unwieldy ill-designed sticks, small white balls, unfathomable hazards comprising of sand, water and general incompetence and stupidly small holes. Add into this heady mix, two growing and increasingly independent stroppy teenage daughters, a jolly hockey sticks wife with a penchant for volunteering ‘us’ for attendance at various family or friend related social soirees at which I get to impersonate the spirit of Denis Thatcher as she plays Queen Bee, and of course the general masochism of watching our beloved Chelsea. Maybe it’s not hard to understand why irrationality forms one side of the scales upon which my life is so precariously balanced.
It got me thinking that it would be good to pull together something that most Chelsea fans, being bi-polar by nature, could either completely relate to, or would feel was so utterly at odds with how they feel that we could indeed be indulging in the perennial internet game of virtual back slapping or stone throwing. So, welcome to the first edition of the The Chelsea Weekly Times, a brief, sometimes serious, sometimes apathetic, sometimes humourous, and occasionally intelligent, sometimes irreverent, and indeed sometimes irrelevant view of the week gone by. Sometimes it won’t even be weekly – it will depend on my mood, my time (or ‘bandwidth’ as it’s now described at work), my physical and mental health or whether there’s anything worth writing about. We have an eminently superior group of football bloggers contributing here, so maybe it won’t even be me who writes.
So, on we go.
Fuck. Phew. Bloody Hell. Oh my God (or for the teens that may be reading, OMG!). WTF? You gotta be kidding me… and so it goes on, but after the last week or so I would imagine that some or all those phrases have been bandied around a lot of Chelsea households, amongst of course many other expletive laden choice cuts. First of all there was our pulsating display against New Leeds, or ‘Liverpool’ as they were once known, in the alleged hotbed of Anfield as well, renowned for it’s ‘Famous European Nights’ (copyright ITV and Clive Tyldesley). Now I’ll be honest and stick my hand up to admit that my devotion to Chelsea is tempered by a bitter cynicism and expectation of failure that was built up over the pre-Abramovich era of sporadic moments of orgasm-like ecstasy amongst the years of general erectile dysfunction, even when presented with the golden footballing equivalents of a night with a leather clad Diana Rigg, fresh from the set of The Avengers (to the younger amongst us, may I suggest you look her up on Google images). However, on this spectacular night we were able to watch Chelsea go a goal behind to a moment of genius from Fernando Torres, the most un-Spanish looking Spaniard to reside on these shores since the arrival of… err… Rafa Benitez, but then follow that setback with a display of pinpoint, near light speed passing, tigerish tackling and surging displays of power and pace to despatch New Leeds to apparent also-rans for the second leg. Oh how I laughed at the chant of “Where’s your famous atmosphere’ coming from the vocal Blues who had braved the journey. The sight of a distraught Red Scouser watching the equivalent of someone ‘robbing their house and then pissing on the floor as they left’ as quoted on a New Leeds blog will always be one to warm the cockles of a Blue heart.
Next came a seemingly routine home game against Bolton and a chance to keep the dying embers of the Scolari wrecked Premiership campaign alive. And routine it was, or so it seemed. Twenty-five minutes into the second half and Chelsea have stepped up a gear, leading 4-0, only to then apply the universally experienced football laxative of conceding three goals in eight minutes resulting in the St John’s Ambulance receiving an unprecedented demand for what I believe are known as Butt Plugs. It’s tempting to say ‘Only at Chelsea…’ but I’m sure many other teams have given their fans similar collective enemas. Just not so frequently. For those old ‘uns amongst us it certainly has started to feel like the old days, and no, not the Mourinho old days. It may just have been my imagination but after the Bolton game it did appear to me that most of us were walking like we’d been visited by the ghost of John Wayne and been given a very personal spiritual rodeo session. Or a communal non-corporeal Brokeback Mountain experience.
Of course the panic sown by Bolton carried over to the absolute nerve shredding goalfest of the home match against the alleged no-hopers of New Leeds. I have already admitted to swallowing the pills marked ‘abject cowardice’ and hiding myself away, as the overwhelming fear of Old Chelsea and the unswerving ability to hit the big red panic button marked ‘DO NOT HIT THIS BIG RED PANIC BUTTON UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE’ took its cold and gnarly grip around what is left of my nervous system. I also knew I couldn’t stand the constant references to the ‘Spirit of Istanbul’ emanating from Clive Tyldesley, alongside the hideous bias and incompetence of ITV’s coverage. Like a moth to a flame, like a child to an ice cream van on the other side of the road, like a dog to a juicy bone, like Paris Hilton to a camera we were drawn to the button. We didn’t just stroke the button, or joshingly pretend to tap it with our mates… no… we walked right over and slapped our collective Blue hand right on the damn thing. Despair for every Blue after 25 minutes, and even in the Glover household my attempts to obscure the world failed as I heard the oohs and aahs filtering down from upstairs. I knew all wasn’t well. Halfway through the second half my game avoidance strategy of watching Star Trek on demand failed dismally as the screen locked up. For several panic stricken minutes I had to toy with the decision to reboot and lose the recording of the game or hope that something would free up and that everything would continue as normal. It was an Apollo 13 landing moment. During that time, my mind was mentally saying ‘Chelsea FC… do you copy’ and only hearing static in return… and then suddenly the distant voice of Mrs Chelsea Tony saying ‘Oh no… Frank’s scored and now this has happened…’ and then after what seemed an eternity but in reality was… an eternity… back came the soothing tones of Captain Jean-Luc Picard reassuring me that all was well aboard the Enterprise. The post full time appearance and beaming smile of Mrs CT’s face and her understated comment of ‘Well, that certainly woke me up’ told me that all was, indeed, very well. Watching the game back was thrilling and enjoyable and all without the need for an adult nappy and syringes full of liquid Valium.
The game against Arsenal was looming large and all my plans were banked on watching it live. Golf was booked to ensure the finishing at the 19th would not impinge on the game, but domestic duty then intervened when Mrs CT reminded me of today’s monumental event, her… ahem… 40-somethingth birthday. She wanted a meal on Saturday and so it came to fruition that we ate whilst the game was played. Such is the importance of such occasions, and the risk of personal genital damage for non attendance or distractions during the meal of a football nature, that I did my husbandly duty and left the phone at home for good measure. Even the presence of my eldest’s Arsenal supporting soon to be Royal Marine boyfriend didn’t facilitate a single conversation about what might be going on. Walking back into the house after the meal and a cursory check of the BBC confirmed what I had genuinely thought… that we would be too much for Wenger’s pre-pubescent collection of fresh faced urchins. A routine win against a routine team, despite them being shackled by the dreadful pitch and us not caring because according to most Gooners we just lump the ball in the air. It’s called adaptability, being able to make the most of the circumstances and thriving in them. Very Darwinian of us indeed.
And so my friends, we are in the semi-finals of the Champions League, eagerly awaiting the Iberian Flamenco Football Kings with open arms, but hopefully not open goals. We are in the FA Cup final against a plucky Everton side built on spirit, determination and guts, headed up by a man that many of us would be rather pleased to see parking his car next to Roman’s next season. And the dimmest flicker of hope for the Premiership is just visible in the corner of our eye. Weeks don’t often have that many twists and turns, but the last two have been truly a rollercoaster at times. If it were like this all the time then one suspects the fan attrition rate would be unsustainable.
Mondays don’t come much better than this. So celebrate my friends, walk around at work and smile. Be smug. Be arrogant. People will think you are anyway. Seek out those Man Utd, New Leeds and Arse fans and gloat over their waxy, pea-sized hearts (copyright Danny Baker), for had the boot been on the other foot today you can be sure they would be doing it to you.
With apologies to Mama Cass:
"Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams, whatever they be,
Dream a little dream of Chelsea…"
Finally, a list in true Sunday supplement style.
Guus Hiddink – Lucky Guus? Clever Guus? Who cares, he’s got us back in the groove.
Alex – a simply awesome goal capped defensive displays of solidity and maturity.
Didier Drogba – seems to have found his mojo and some.
Super Frank – showing his fellow professionals what utter morons most of them are for nominating the North West for every award.
The Blues – Us and Everton in the FA Cup final and Leicester back in the Championship.
Tubby Benitez – graceful loser and showed immense dignity at the Hillsborough memorial.
In the red
Petr Cech – suffering confidence and complacency problems and seeming unable to admit to it.
Deco – another hamstring to see his career out with us. Not a shame really.
Sir Alex Ferguson – contemptuous old scrote showing utter disrespect to the FA Cup. And his opponents.
Arsene Wenger – another trophyless season but a big say in the Premiership. Questions may be asked.
Charlton Athletic – relegated to the third tier of English football, almost certainly with Norwich and Southampton joining them – if Leeds fail to get out then that’s four ex-Premiership teams whose light has faded dramatically. A warning to us all?
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!