Good Evening Chidge, Mr. J.K, and honored and much loved guest or guests.
I’ve been hearing, or rather reading, on Twitter many fans who claim football isn’t back until they can go down to the pub and watch it with their mates or be at the Bridge itself. I completely understand the loss everyone must feel but at the same time I couldn’t help but compare this attitude to the overseas fans who’ve introduced me to the sport. Yes, it’s true, this is my first season as a Chelsea supporter and of football itself. My lovely friend Robin introduced me to the sport via our local club, shout out to the Dash, and shortly thereafter I was so embraced by the local fan group that as I learned more about Chelsea it became clear this was my club. I remember Robin stopping dead in the street to look me in the eye and say, “it doesn’t have to be Chelsea. I don’t want to pressure you because when you pick your club you can’t go changing it.” I assured her I was, and always have been, ride or die and what a season it has been since!
Despite the various difficulties facing Chelsea as a club, and then the unforeseen pandemic, the warmth and joy felt for this club by Robin and my other True Blues has been an inspiration in finding joy even distanced. Without the physical experience it can be harder to create the culture and connection around a club but here the fans have managed it and I am so proud of them. May we all make this time mean something by learning just how good we’ve had it and didn’t notice.
Today four friends gathered at a local pub, The Blue Lion, and the owner allowed us to hang our Chelsea flag and declare it our home pub. We watched the game against Aston Villa and it was almost a normal experience for us fans on this side of the Atlantic. There are many reasons this was an important match, the opportunity to gain 3 points while our rivals lost points this weekend, the return of RLC, Pulisic’s goal after not being seen since January. For me it was extra special to see Kante play. Since the beginning of the season he’s been dogged by injuries and today I saw him more himself, more like the videos of past seasons I have been watching. Robin has educated me via her own course of football education, we’ve termed it “Football Uni”, (she has since added “Rugby Uni” and “80’s Music Uni) where I watch old matches, documentaries, and interviews. Of course a big part of that Uni has been this podcast. I’ve been listening since my first Chelsea game and grown very fond of you all while depending on your knowledge.
This podcast saw me through my training for my first 5k, the lockdown, and now you’re along for the ride while I prepare for my first 10k. I hope that one day, not too far in the future and with all this behind us, I can have the absolute mad experience of attending the Bridge myself and I hope to see you all there. (I won’t be in the posh seats, JK, but as an irrepressible American I won’t have any problem gate crashing long enough to say hello.)