Life changes for a football fan who has regularly attended his beloved team's matches throughout his existence when he has children. At one stage it meant giving up my season ticket for two years assuming that fewer matches would be attended - when in reality even as a member I attended the bulk of games home and away. Today was one of those days where having spent three days in Madrid, a day spent at home was required. And it was a day that I wanted to spend with my closest family - wife and two kids.
It was spent at Chessington Zoo.
I have always tried to be holier-than-thou as a fan... I won't do this or that... if I break this rule then it means I can no longer count myself as a genuine fan etc... but finally reality is dawning that not being able to attend every match in person is not the end of the world. And more importantly, I felt the same passion, stress and desire for Chelsea to win today as I would have done being in person at Anfield.
But in typical bloke fashion I had forgotten to record the game. My daughter asked me why I was punching the seat when I realised this in the restaurant at lunch today where there was surprisingly as much salad as pizza. I finally figured out how to remotely record the game and looked forward to watching it later upon my return home. No checking for results and time to ignore telephone calls and texts. This is something I had not done for a very long time.
There was some poetry on the way back from Chessington. We decided to drive down some country lanes on the way home and accidentally passed through Cobham. Police had blocked off a lane we wished to peruse and this being after the match had ended I wondered if there had not been some kind of altercation in a pub between rival football watchers.
Back home and having unpacked the bags a man passing my car was speaking to his son about football. I closed my ears but too late - only I still heard him mutter something about some team that had scored one goal - did this mean that Liverpool had scored? What was the second part of the score? 1-0? 1-1? 1-2? I had started humming to myself just in time not to hear the full result of whichever match they were discussing.
The anxiety was killing me. My face felt red with pulsation as I sat down to watch the game that I had recorded. Part of the redness to the cheeks was down to me being a typical city dweller not used to the gentle country breezes encountered today. Sky as per usual tried to Hollywoodise the home support but ironically cut off for adverts just as their home anthem was reaching the crescendo that it does pre-kickoff.
The Chelsea line-up still looked solid despite one newcomer to the side. Chelsea held their own and crosses were well intercepted. It was interesting to see Liverpool miss a couple of easy chances. The Ba goal had me jumping to my feet in my living room with my two daughters staring at me in bewilderment before breaking into smiles. The bigger shock was seeing Willian score in injury time which was too good to be true.
A simply tremendous performance and our manager is correct - if it were not for key refereeing decisions this season we would have had the title more or less wrapped up by now. However, it was also interesting to see that Liverpool were not at their best and did not give their full concentration at key moments. We not only have a master tactician for key games but also one with a truly remarkable understanderding of psychology.
There is little else to write about and no point dwelling on minor issues such as Liverpool not throwing the ball back to us when we kicked it off having an injured player. Nor is it even worth mentioning how our club is described as one with no class and yet opposition fans of a club with so much "history" concentrate the bulk of their chanting against the team they are playing! Let's see how the "neutral" media's ever-changing formulas for what makes a great team do this week. Oh, and I noted some sarcasm from the match official towards Chelsea players at several stages during the match - is this not the lowest form of wit? Rant over.
We might not win the league and yet be the best club in the country. Go figure that one out. Good luck against Atletico you Blues and may league results go our way!