When you look at the title of this piece you might be forgiven if you thought the Fancast had lost its sense of purpose and drifted into politics, and further to that you might then assume we’d fallen for the blue-rinse perfumed spin of Mrs. Theresa May, currently wandering the UK spouting on about being ‘strong and stable’ in order to deliver the best for us, the proletariat. The normal people. I can see Chidge shaking in his boots at the thought of being that type of ‘blue’. I might agree with the ‘strong’ element being necessary, but where did stability ever get Chelsea?
But you’d be wrong. Very wrong indeed. You see what I’m getting at is the significance of the month of May in Chelsea’s history. I know I could write in depth about that glorious day 5 years ago in Munich when our plucky underdogs fought like the British army at Rourke’s Drift (see the film Zulu teenagers!) and of course, it might be of interest but I’m sure there’ll be many fans writing memoirs of that day and night and so I’m taking a slightly different route*.
*It’s possible I might recall a moment or two as well in this article
You see for me, the month of May is when my happiest Chelsea moments have occurred and for one of those I wasn’t even alive for, not even a twinkle in someone’s eye!
The first of those of course would be the morning of May 1st 1955. The day after Chelsea lost to Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford. No internet, no twitter, no Facebook…just the newspapers, radio and for those lucky enough, a TV to relay the information about the final day result. The truth is we may have won that first ever title that year in April. But that last game was April 30th and that first day of May meant the end of the season and that meant it was over and we were Champions. Bragging rights across the UK for a whole year at least, in a time when tribalism may have existed, but was far less visceral and tainted by trivial hatreds. It would be 50 years before it was felt again. It would be 50 years to the day of May 1st that every Chelsea fan would be waking up hungover, tired, happy and not a little uncertain of how to behave when this happens. It had been that long. Anyone aged 16 in 1955 was now pulling a pension. Anyone my age now in 1955 had never seen another league win unless they’d broken their own centenary. April 30th 2005, an away win at the notoriously sticky and un-wielding Bolton Wanderers, with 2 goals from our own iconic Frank Lampard sealed the league with 3 games to go. We hadn’t just won the league, we’d smashed it. May 1st…waking up and KNOWING it was true. We’d done it after 50 long years. Chelsea champions!
Fast forward a year to Saturday 29th April 2006. Chelsea 3-0 Manchester United. History had repeated itself. Champions with 2 games to go. Sunday hungover in bed and 1st May……off to work as a Champion!
It was in danger of becoming Groundhog Day! May had become a month for Chelsea fans to relax the shoulders and adjust to the idea of a major trophy delivered. Of course, Premier league wise, it wasn’t to be this feeling again until 2010, when an 8-0 home win versus Wigan sealed it for us. I was there and going into the game was sweating, dry-mouthed, shaking and a pale wreck through nerves. I relaxed when the 6th goal went in! Even a dyed in the wool pessimist like me conceded we ‘might’ have won it when Drogba put his penalty away to make it 6-0 with 12 minutes left. The glory of that was the icing on a cake followed by the cherry another week later as we beat Portsmouth 1-0 at Wembley for our first, and to date, only Double.
Include the two FA Cups and the European Cup Winners Cup wins that were also delivered in May and you can see what I mean about May being the feel-good month for us now can’t you?
Of course, amongst the many fine Mays’ we’ve had there has been trophy less ones, and ones where the feeling of disbelief has taken the mantle from that of joy, smugness and satisfaction. May 2016 stands out as the most recent example, post Jose’s second coming, after the dourness of Guus Hiddink’s second interim stewardship. But in each case, oldies like me will always have the last man standing emotion of relief. The relief of knowing the season was over and we hadn’t been relegated as on May 28th 1988 after a 1-0 home win to Middlesbrough in the Division 1 play offs.
Then of course the ultimate May to date, the 19th of May 2012. I didn’t go as I feel my wife gives me enough leeway with the season ticket, the odd away game and golf. So my middle brother and me renewed our finals partnership, a partnership in which we’d never lost a final we’d watched together. The sorry 6th place of that season had been forgotten in the light of a 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Wembley on 5th May to secure us another FA Cup. May had the chance to become the most glorious month ever. We’d both been confident we had enough to beat Liverpool at Wembley, but my brothers first words on the doorstep on the 19th May 2012 were ‘I’m not sure about this’. Understated caution at its best.
Four hours later and the joy was unabated. Drunk to the point of collapse and rewinding the Tivo time and again over Drogba’s equalizer and the penalties through the home cinema on full blast until 4am, and then dragging sorry backside up to London for the parade. With severe hangover pain that parade was still a blast to be at, and to be in that crowd with so many ecstatic people.
May had never been better.
Finally, here we are again. Champions in May. Champions pretty much against the odds and the general predictions of the experts in the game, but also of the media and the various fan bases including our own. Champions with both style and grace. Champions earning the respect of others along the way through the class, respect and dignity of Antonio Conte. Champions with two games to go as we’d done in 2006. Champions with the chance to do The Double again on 27th May. Let’s hope the lads can make the merry month of May a positively champagne and roses laden one.
And remember, above all else. WOLUTB…UTC!!!!!
By Tony Glover aka @GrocerJackUK on twitter