Reading Jim White’s column in Yahoo Sport this morning gave me pause for thought. He tells of a Chelsea supporter who turned up at their training ground and – to quote verbatim – “staged a one-man protest. He hung bedsheet banners on the perimeter fence demanding the removal of everyone from Roman Abramovich to Carlo Ancelotti, then bellowed at the players that they were not fit to wear the shirt, before ritually ripping up his season ticket.“
This gave me pause for thought. You see, in all the years since the days of Osgood, Bonetti and the like, I can only remember 1 person I knew who was a Chelsea supporter. It was like they didn’t exist as a club for all that time when there was no silverware coming in. On the other hand, I was bumping into Tottenham and West Ham supporters all the time despite the lean years that those clubs were suffering over the same period. I would like to think that it was because I live in north London but the story was the same at work where my mates came from all over the capital.
Then it all changed… Suddenly Chelski were winning things under a new owner and with a manager who can certainly claim to be among the best, based on his record, but is a bit too boastful for my personal taste. It’s amazing how the collapse of communism benefitted southwest London! It was also as if the fans had been released from the gulags and crossed the now demolished Berlin Wall to re-appear all over London. The once invisible Chelsea flag resurfaced on builders vans throughout the capital.
This season Chelsea are not doing so good and their fall from all conquering heroes to middle men seems to coincide with the departure of Ray Wilkins – perhaps it wasn’t that brilliant foreign manager who sparked the success after all, but a bit of the old ‘they don’t like it up ‘em’ approach from Wilkins in the background? Perhaps the power behind the throne was doing the real deal with the players – who knows?
What is apparent from this supporter’s outburst at the training ground is that the nouveau Chelsea fans are fickle. Their loyalty may only be counted on for as long as the trophies keep coming. The players are not fit to wear the shirt? I suspect the boot is on the other foot!