I dislike the name Chelsea for so many reasons
Personally, I dislike the name Chelsea for so many reasons.
My granda’ used to go on about his first no. 9 hero, Wee Hughie Gallacher, being “taken by London money”, when he was sold to Chelsea in 1930. He never had a good word to say about them after that and also talked of how popular the Wembley Wizard was at St. James‘ Park, when Gallacher’s return was responsible for Newcastle’s biggest gate of 68,386 with “almost as many locked out of the ground!”
My own relationship with Chelsea started the first time I saw Newcastle v Chelsea in 1977, we won 1-0 with a Micky Burns goal. They had started yo-yoing between the First and Second Divisions just before us, so we played against them, more than most, over the next few years.
I was 11 the first time I ever went to that London, staying with an auntie who was training to be a doctor, for a week during October half-term. I travelled with family on the train to King’s Cross on Saturday, 25th October 1980 and my only thoughts at the time were about how we’d done against Chelsea who we’d played away that day.
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We arrived and headed down to the tube just before 6pm and I saw groups of Newcastle supporters coming towards us. I excitedly asked some of them what the score was, but was shocked and saddened to hear that we’d lost, not lost, were absolutely stuffed, 6-0!!! We beat them in the return fixture, with Bruce Halliday, who, along with Stuart Boam, had been made to look silly a few months earlier, scoring his only goal for the club. I felt some sense of revenge, but it didn’t seem enough. Seeing their fans rampaging through the town attacking shoppers after the match didn’t endear me to this club at all.
A few games followed over the next decade until they were relegated again to Division Two in 1988, via the first play-off, losing to Middlesbrough. Chelsea were promoted the following season and we were relegated at the same time after a terrible season. It was at this time that Chelsea provided more reason for me to dislike them.
I was at university in London at that time and went along to the King’s Road one day with a lad I’d briefly become friends with. I felt like I may as well be on Mars. These posh Cockernees spoke to me like I was dirt and I was completely ignored and treated like a servant when I visited a friend of his, from Harrow School, who lived round the corner. It was another world and I didn’t feel a part of it. They were Chelsea ‘fans’ who saw football as a game for oiks. They were simply irksome toffs to me. I’ll not say what I really thought of Chelsea at that time.
Our next encounter with Chelsea saw me travelling back down south with Magpie Travel, I’ve still got my card, for a midweek cup game in 1992. The driver took the coach to the wrong end of the ground and the fifty of us, none whom I knew, as I was effectively by myself that night, grouped together and walked around their shed trying to look as tough as possible as we were threatened, spat at, with bottles and cans thrown at us, but no one seemed to want to actually attack fifty Geordies in a pack. Not that any of us wanted any trouble. It was absolutely pathetic.
They caused more trouble inside the ground with ridiculous shows of ‘strength’ by trying to run at us around the track. The game was poor, with them kicking lumps out of us. Robert Lee scored for us, but they won on the night with a goal by Mick Harford, which just rubbed salt into the wounds. It’s a long journey back home in the dark, from there, after a defeat.
A few matches followed with Newcastle building under the Keegan revolution with Chelsea starting to build, though unspectacularly under Glenn Hoddle, and then becoming more of a force under Gullit and Vialli. Losing to them on penalties in the FA Cup, on a cold January night in 1996, was particularly galling, but worse was to come.
Following disastrous trips to Wembley in the 90s, enough said, we felt that if we should get through against Chelsea, we’d have a great chance to win the FA Cup in 2000 as only Aston Villa would stand in our way, having beaten Bolton on penalties in an uninspiring game the previous week.
Gus Poyet scored early on, but we still felt that we were the better team, playing decent football under Bobby Robson. Desailly and Leboeuf were imperious in defence against Big Dunc, though. However, one of the best moments in my life happened on 66 minutes when Rob Lee scored our first goal at Wembley since Alan Gowling toe poked one in against Man City in 1976.
I had to revise my report to my wife, placing our wedding day and the birth of our first son as the best moments in my life, but witnessing this goal was easily second, at least! Then Poyet spoiled it all 6 minutes later as we were still celebrating and finding our seats again. It felt like I’d been sucker punched in the stomach. I hated Chelsea at this point.
Since then results have mostly gone to them, unsurprisingly since the cash injection by multi-billionaire Abramovich. Always been a huge club? Their fans seem to forget that Ken Bates bought the club for £1. We’ve done better against them in recent years, winning 4 of the last 9 games, with 2 draws, and Mourinho has never won at St. James’ Park in the Premier League.
We have a few players coming back from injury and suspension today, but Chelski are absolutely flying. The strength in depth and world class quality of some of their players is frightening, but it’s 11 v 11 and I have a feeling we could sneak something against them.
I’ve not been well since travelling to Burnley and back, but am determined to be there, in the wheelie seats, cheering the lads on against a team that I simply cannot stand!
Howay the Lads!
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