This was the first game John Fist attended since Theresa May called a snap general election. I was incredibly fortunate that it was such a pivotal game in the race for the Premier League title, despite some unsettling political undercurrents. But let me start by getting the most important news out of the way first: what with this being a Tuesday evening game, and with John Fist being a working man, there simply wasn’t enough time to imbibe any local coffee or sample the indigenous snack scene. I’m sorry, I know.
Coming immediately off the back of an F.A. Cup semi final victory against rivals Spurs, the atmosphere around Stamford Bridge was particularly boisterous. Football is the working person’s game, of course, and there was no better example than this very night. Kids bedecked in merchandise, holding their parent’s hand, looking around in wonder; broad-shouldered men with bulging eyes prowling the concourses in army fatigues; men with hearty, dandruff flecked neck beards asking Gaz if he wanted another two pints; men and women in impeccably cut suits, and others in even finer suits with briefcases — all bonding over their love of spending a minimum of £52 for 90 minutes of football.
Arriving as the game kicked off, I was directed to my seat by a much feared thing in football; an overly enthusiastic steward who thinks he’s one of the fans. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see any kind of authority figure shun the robotic, cold Conservative eyes of trying to ruin something that traditionally the working class enjoy; but if you swing too far in the other direction, it starts to raise suspicions. It’s only with hindsight that I realise this steward was a mole.
Eden Hazard’s early opener didn’t help proceedings in this regard. The mole-steward started a few songs; some were picked up, some ignored. Encouragement enough.
An Oriol Romeu equaliser for Saints led to a spell of increased Southampton possession. The tension in the ground ratcheted with each subsequent Saints pass. The referee was having a mixed game and naturally the home crowd’s ire was soon directed at him.
In one particular instance, a free kick was awarded to Southampton on the edge of the Chelsea box. The Matthew Harding lower became a cement mixer of the basest, most vile thoughts that some in attendance could muster, flowing like slurry down a chute directed solely at the man in black. Like any other ground, it’s not so much the words themselves that truly stuns, but the face reddening ferocity with which they’re screamed. It was with wonderment that I looked around at the pink balloons adorned with peeled lychees that surrounded me.
I couldn’t help but presume there was something else afoot here. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the sphincter-twitching feeling of a title run-in, but these fans must have also been in the midst of turbulent personal issues. For every referee are you fucking blind, you c*nt?!, I was filling in the blanks with an immediate, Sharon’s moved out for a week. It’s not necessarily over, more a trial separation, but I think she could be seeing someone else!
And on it went.
Referee, you c*nt! How much have they fucking paid you for this, you prick?! I feel like I barely know my kids but they’re moving on with their lives now and I can’t quite reel them back in!
You’ve got to be fucking joking ref! You c*nt prick, fuck off ref! I’m increasingly attracted to a male colleague and I don’t know what to do about it.
The free kick took an age to organise, and the torrent of abuse died away. People quite simply ran out of swear words. But one particularly anxious man then shouted you’re getting desperate, referee! I turned to try and find the source, hoping to correct his you’re with an I’m, and to see if he wanted to sit down and have a chat. But alas, his identity escaped me.
This scene was more or less extended for the entire first half. Mercifully, before mass aneurysms took hold, Chelsea retook the lead on the stroke of half-time through a Gary Cahill header. A Diego Costa third shortly after the break more or less put things to bed.
The mole-steward piped up again, offering songs. With anger now replaced by jubilation around him, he was happily put in his place. His songs were either glossed over with others, or met with a shut up, mate!
They said mate, it’s fine.
As the game wound down, two fans behind me started to analyse a song that features the line; oh, David Luiz you are the love of my life, oh David Luiz I’d let you shag my wife.
I wouldn’t let him shag my wife, said one bluntly, with a face as glum as his children’s.
Same, agreed the other. Imagine him shagging forty-thousand women, though.
I did imagine it. Imagine it. David Luiz. Forty thousand women. Do you think they meant at once, or over the course of the season?
Diego Costa grabbed a fourth and a party atmosphere settled over the ground for the final few minutes. The mole-steward started up again but was given curious looks by those leaving the ground, as well the customary shut up!
Not mates anymore.
Who is this c*nt?, said another.
Perhaps it was by stripping away the search for coffee perfection that sharpened my wits on this particular evening. The government has infiltrated the Premier League ahead of the election, clearly. We already know that the Premier League is snorting up money like a London banker inhaling cocaine, but now it’s whoring itself to the powerful for immunity. This is the ruling classes dividing and conquering the poor with ease. Step one was steadily raising football ticket prices to over £50. They’ll take it, the slags. What else have they got in their lives apart from football, anger and beer? Step two was to do what Dad does in the street now and blame any problems on people who look different to them — on their expertly placed moles. Look, it’s them, they’re in fluorescent yellow. You could have had that job. But now HE’S telling YOU to sit down. Step three is inevitably the apocalypse.
But still, what a great title race!