Blogger from America Sun 8 Oct 2017
How far did you travel to watch the most recent Chelsea match? A couple of stops on the Underground, an hour on the train, two hours by car from the Midlands or the West Country?
How about flying nearly 5,000 miles and a total journey time of 22 hours - only to miss the first 20 minutes of the Manchester City fixture.
Elicia and Barrett live in New Orleans, Louisiana. They booked on Delta Airlines to fly from New Orleans to Atlanta to London, leaving Friday afternoon and arriving into Heathrow at 8am on Saturday. They planned to nap in their accommodation then head to Stamford Bridge for the 5.30pm kick-off and their first ever Blues match.
As they were on board and waiting to taxi to the runway, the pilot announced a ‘security situation’ had shut down Atlanta airport and that they would be delayed 45 minutes. That changed to a delay of one hour, 45 minutes, and the passengers were returned to the terminal.
They were now going to miss their connection to London, but were re-booked on a non-stop flight from New Orleans to London instead. Unfortunately that plane got delayed five hours!
So it was 2am Saturday - 8am in the UK - before they even took off from Louisiana. They touched down in Heathrow at 4pm around 20 hours after first checking in - and still had to clear immigration, pick up their bags and get to SW6.
Their luggage was missing but they took the fast train to Victoria and hopped in a cab, finally making it to the Fulham Road close to 6pm. Despite the epic odyssey, lack of sleep and intercontinental jet-lag, they didn’t want to lose their chance to see the Blues, even if the result didn’t go our way.
Four days after checking in their cases, they had still not appeared so they drove out to Heathrow. By the time they had been located them, Elicia and Barrett had already flown to Italy. The luggage was sent back to New Orleans for them and it arrived back in the Big Easy a week after they left.
So the next time you are stopped between stations on the tube, or your train is delayed 15 minutes because of leaves on the line, spare a thought for our fans visiting from the USA. And if the supporter beside you looks close to nodding off during the match, don’t judge them too harshly. You never know how far they have come...