Sunday, 19 October 2014

Crystal Palace 1 Chelsea 2

The loud and proud use of the word "ultras" by any team's fans usually makes me think of two things.

Firstly, that the term is being used because their side must play such tedious football that they need continuous, nonstop nudging and reminding of their home support to sing in case they nod off. The reason for this is a flashback to Italian football during its heyday. After a club that starts with the letter, "L" caused English clubs to be banned from Europe because of the behaviour of their fans (it wasn't their fault, of course) other leagues thrived. The standard of skill and talent on display in Italy meant that we regularly watched Football Italia on Channel 4 in the 1990s. The word chalk and cheese when comparing leagues could not have been more aptly used. However, most derbies were like watching a game of chess and therefore fans needed to be proactive. Then one move would ignite your whole mind. A goal would be scored from the halfway line creating pandemonium on the terraces: flares would ignite; flags be waved; fans would try to climb over fencing to batter the opposition supporters whether they were winning or losing. But during that game you could have done your homework. Or gardening. Or washing up. And more often than not the goal would have been scored when you went to the bathroom having tried in vain to keep bladder discipline.

The second thing that springs to mind is a small club mentality. Why use a term that derives from the continent? You are a club in South-East London so at least form your own identity. In Europe you see fans who like to boast on banners displayed on their terraces how they are "ultra supporters" of their own side. Oh, really? Then why do you write how much you love your club in English if you are based in Germany? Haven't you got your own language?

There are several things for sure. One is that the best way to ignite the away end at a football ground is to have home fans hold up banners pre-match (with stewards turning a blind eye) having a go at our owner's "dirty money" and declaring yourself "against modern football". Oh, really? So no issues with having betting businesses as partners of your club? And have such left-leaning support lovingly decorate local parking signs with their ultras stickers? In any case, well done... because if there is a way of ending up with egg on your face is then seeing your side concede a goal barely after kick-off.

Neil Warnock is a man who for a while (believe it or not) I did not mind. I like a guy who says what he really feels and wears his heart on his sleeve. The only problem for me is when you do not practice what you preach or are ludicrously hypocritical to shift the focus away from your side's deserved loss. Because for Dave's deserved red card there were more than four Palace players surrounding the referee than there were Chelsea players after Delaney's second yellow (which really should have been his third). Before that incident occurred the home side were lucky to have escaped with only one booking with the cynical tackles that we have had to almost get used to. Most opposition sides find little other way to stop our swift midfield. That is on top of a couple of utterly woeful decisions where the referee could not tell the difference between a goal kick and a corner. No wonder Ivanovic was so incensed when a throw-in went against him which was clearly Chelsea's.

But hey-ho... MotD has not got a set of balls to go through the minutiae of the match as a barrister would do in court to prove the stupidity of Warnock's comments. And how to add more egg on your face - Campbell givin' it large to Fabregas when the red card was produced only for later to witness Cesc score one of the best goals of the season. Hey Neil - at least there is one parallel with the Serie A matches we used to watch - the amount of rolls the home player made after John Terry's tackle in the first half in an attempt to have him booked. Unlucky.

Almost every week we are now seeing this magnificent Chelsea side score what would have won goal of month for a whole season with barely a quarter of the campaign passed. Man U next week and if our fans can be as vociferous as we were yesterday then we can really count as being the twelfth man - with no drum needed. This Sunday could prove to be our biggest test this season.

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