Tony Glover, popular guest on the Chelsea FanCast and presenter of his own fantastic Chelsea podcast, The Podding Shed, shares his feelings about Sir Frank Lampard with us…
*Only the last two adjectives are true.
Let me start by saying immediately that the man, the genius, the legend and the hero I am writing this paean about is neither ‘big’ nor ‘fat’ . Some fans of other clubs do like to portray him as such in their sideswipes but they are wrong and I consider this man to be one of the only Chelsea players who can claim to be as legendary as Peter Osgood or Gianfranco Zola. Others may follow this elite list of all time Chelsea greats (Drogba maybe, John Terry….who knows?). But one thing is for sure, if one man deserves a statue next to the one of Peter Osgood, and not one erected when he shuffles off this mortal coil, then it is the wonderful role model, gentleman, chap, hero and world class footballer we love and know as SuperFrank.
Frank Lampard, take a bow son, take one great big huge bow. And for every Chelsea fan who reads this or finds it via Twitter or Facebook or because the Archbishop Stamford Chidge plugs this on the wonder Chelsea Fancast show, please doff your physical and metaphorical caps in Frank’s direction, smile and say
‘So long and thanks for all the glory’**
**apologies to Douglas Adams for that blatant bit of paraphrasing there
For those old enough, cast your minds back to the day Chelsea announced they had spent £11m on a young, polite footballer who’s name was famous for his father’s career at West Ham. Yes, Frank Lampard sat nervously next to Claudio Ranieri in June 2001, and yes looking back there may have been what we would affectionately call ‘puppy fat’ most noticeably on the cherubic young barely shaveable face. Nowadays, anyone that age is publicly shamed as being ‘obese’ as society plunges towards one divided by cod-hatred based on physical inherited attributes, but I digress. Like many I watched thinking that this was yet another mediocre signing, a journeyman who would hang around for 2-3 years before we sold him onto Barnsley or some other smaller club. Or if he really was any good, then the Bates Business School would cash in and sell him, promise to replace him, and then buy someone like ….oooh I dunno…Steve Canham?
Oh how I was wrong, and if you’re all honest you probably thought the same. Yes, you can deny it now, you can say you knew all along. But I’d bet you were lying or deluded, or had suffered some sort of amnesia episode. The truth is his signing didn’t really set any fires alight in Chelsea fandom. For one thing, he was West Ham. For another he was the son of a decent but ultimately journeyman footballer who was never quite good enough for England. And at that time we were still the club on the cusp of something. No-one knew what, some like me suspected that an FA Cup and Cup Winners Cup was as good as we were ever destined to get. We’d equal 1970/1971…but the league? Europe? Nah….that wasn’t really proper Chelsea. Hindsight now tells us the truth was none of us could ever have dreamed of the success to follow once Bullyboy Bates sold up.
Key to all of this, admittedly amongst others, was young Frank Lampard. At first he seemed to fit the model described above, decent but no superstar. There was the unfortunate post 9/11 incident reported in the press, which for some means he and the others should have got life sentences for according to ….well……idiots. But that event was shared indiscretion which were merely the actions of young, pissed and ignorant men. As most players are at some point. But it wasn’t a spit roasting, underage sex, domestic violence or any of the similar things we see all too regularly these days. Since that day, never a transgression publicly. When he slowly established himself in the side under Ranieri, in my view he became a familiar comforting face. A player who wasn’t fat, and never seemed to play half-heartedly but still not displaying the signs of greatness. His first season netted 8 goals, which was a very small hint of the ability to come. As seasons went by I could see this was a player proving my initial doubts were utter cobblers and also proving once again that fans know sod all about football really, no matter what we might think. When Jose came in he made Lampard one of his untouchables, but the truth was that in a lot of hearts he was showing that anyway. The rest is history of course, but let’s reiterate…
He won 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League cups, 2 Community Shields (it’s a trophy so shut up in the cheap seats!) , 1 Europa League and 1 Champions League. Any footballer would probably amputate a bollock out to get half that tally. Add in the 109 England caps with his 29 goals there (which we all know was 30 but for refereeing incompetence/FIFA corruption) and this is a career deserving of the accolade ‘Stellar’. Who can fail to remember the picture of what I call the Lampard Triumvirate, consoled and congratulated by Didier and JT after the penalty versus Liverpool in the Champions league, just days after the death of his beloved mum? Who can forget the goals versus Bolton at the Reebok to win us our first Premier League since 1955 (when it was the much better First Division). The penalty versus Bayern in Munich anyone? The wonder goal versus Bayern in 2005? The flick on for Ramires in the Barca semi? The ‘brazilian’ chip versus Barca? The scorcher versus Everton in the FA Cup final? There are really too many fantastic memories to list here.
In all of my years supporting Chelsea, since 1970, I can honestly say I never dreamed we would be where we are now, with the trophy haul we’ve had in the 12 or so years under Roman. Integral and critical to all of this was Frank Lampard. He really was the consummate professional on the field and a proper gentleman off the field as well. On TV he’s always well informed, he’s educated and articulate. He looks great, keeps himself in shape, never gets into slanging matches, has never really coated any of the myriad of coaches we have thrown onto the carousel of the revolving door of the manager’s office. He’s diplomatic, charming, witty and has graced our club with honour, professionalism and what’s more a genuine everlasting love for Chelsea and especially us the fans. Just look at the retirement announcement, with nods to West Ham, Manchester City and even New York…..but saving the best until last. Us. All of us. You, me and every fan and person attached to the club. Everything to do with Chelsea. He truly is ‘one of us’ .
Build him a statue next to Ossie. Now. Not when it’s too late for him to see and enjoy it, and for us to smile with a nostalgic tear in our eye. Now. If one man has earned that much it’s SUPERFRANKIE LAMPARD. KTBBFH. Up the Chels!
And remember, above all else. WOLUTB…UTC!!!!!