I’ve been a Chelsea fan since 1997. The Blues had just won the FA Cup, and the Evening Standard printed a poster of the winning team. Being an impressionable 9 year old, I put the poster on my wall. The rest, as they say, is history.
I visit the Bridge as often as I can – most home games, all home cup games, some away games, and I love every second. The thrill of a goal, the constant cheering, shouting, screaming, the antibiotics for laryngitis for the next week…
In 2012, Chelsea won the Champions League, beating Bayern Munich in their backyard, in the final. The semi final was against the Messi-driven Barcelona – a tough team to beat at the best of times. A few years prior, was one of the most heated enounters of football I’ve ever experienced. A referee, who retired soon after the game, had seemingly been bribed by either the Spanish FA, or FIFA, and didn’t give Chelsea three penalties which were clear cut, along with ‘missing’ countless red-card challenges by the Barcelona players.
Anyway, I’m not bitter.
So fast-forward to 2012. We’re in the Champions League Semi Final, and we get drawn against Barcelona. Cue eye rolling, bitching about the last time we played them, and an ACUTE sense of want and need for revenge.
Luckily I had a lot of loyalty points ,so I was able to get a seat in the East Lower Family Tier. I went with Colin, a football buddy, and was a bag of nerves for the whole day before.
The game kicked off, and the guy next to me was constantly concerned about whether I could see – was he in my way, do I want to start a chant…the usual!
I’m going to apologise in advance for the quality of my photos – iPhone cameras weren’t that great in 2012!
Yes, that is Messi, with long hair. Lampard is running away from him, and Ivanovic is looking at him like he wants to eat him alive.
It was a tensely fought match, with neither team wanting to concede…..it was end to end stuff – Barcelona had most of the posession, but weren’t able to convert.
And then it happened. Deep into injury time in the first half, Didier Drogba appear from nowhere, and put us ahead. Against Barcelona. In the Champions League Semi Final first leg!Embed from Getty Images
This man.Embed from Getty Images
This beautiful man.Embed from Getty Images
OK I’ll stop now.
We cheered so much that I had no voice left. The rest of the game was a blur. It finished 1-0. We didn’t care that there was only one goal – we’d taken one step closer to winning the main prize – the Champions League.
Part 2 coming soon…