Old Chelsea, New Chelsea ….a view

As a fan of the club since 1970 and a season ticket holder in the dark days during the 80’s and 90’s, it is particularly galling to be shouted at when coloured-up in the street or in a pub, “Where were you when you were s***?” It is tempting to retort “Stood in the West Side of the Shed, dripping wet, watching us lose”, but this would be lost on such dullards. However, when Chelsea fans travel away and are taunted in this fashion even the most one-eyed Blues supporters can acknowledge the point being made. 

  For those of us of a certain vintage, (fans who think of Pat Nevin as a mercurial winger, the personification of the luxury player and not a balding, so-so pundit on Channel 5), these insults are clearly ridiculous, but the new Chelsea fans have to take it on the chin. Given the years of heartbreak and disappointment we have endured, we old boys feel we have made an emotional investment in the club and we are due a return which we feel we deserve to some extent. 

  One of the advantages of the recent successes of the club is that the fan-base has grown and it would be churlish to complain about that. Since that magical, glorious day in May 1997 when ‘Steady’ Eddie Newton wrapped up the facile 2-0 Cup Final win against relegated Boro, the goalposts have moved and the Abramovich millions since 2003, have made an enormous difference to the quality of the players on show at the Bridge. However, glory-hunters who don’t sing and sit on their hands waiting to be entertained, have arrived in their droves and the days when Stamford Bridge was considered an intimidating away trip are sadly long gone. Many long-standing fans have been squeezed out financially as the club has moved on and to some extent left the passion behind with them.   

  Not all of the newbies are glory-hunters and for any southern lad becoming aware of football for the first time around the age of 6 or 7 it has been a good call during the last 10 years to opt for the Blues, as I did in 1970. But don’t get me started on people who change their allegiance, this is NEVER, EVER acceptable, in any event. Partners may come and go, even parents eventually die, but the one rock-solid relationship most of us have is with the football club that took our heart in our early years. 

There is a type of new Chelsea fan that I have an ill-disguised contempt for. The most frustrating thing is when they take for granted a trophy a year and some even arrogantly dismiss the ‘Double’ achieved last year as they bemoan the fact that we did not win the Champions League. Back in the dark debt-ridden days when the club were on the brink of extinction and the old 3rd Division, I would have crawled to Wembley on broken glass for even a sniff of a Cup win, yet alone the elusive Double. A bit of humility would not go amiss and they need to learn that nothing is to be taken for granted in football, but has to be earned season by season, game by game. 

 So if you are a fan of another club, you can rest assured that if you resent the arrogant, swaggering, Johnny-come-lately Chelsea fans so prevalent today, us old Chelsea fans find them far, far more irritating. Indeed, if the Blues have a fallow period in the future (which we surely will), the only advantage will be that we will gladly wave them goodbye, as they depart to pastures new changing their replica shirts as they go.

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