Getting together for the Blues

On Sunday, I did something for the first time in more than a decade. I went to a friend’s house to watch a Chelsea match.

When I lived back home in Belfast it was my preferred method of following a game, with either my mate (or mates) coming to mine, or me going to theirs. I could concentrate on the action but still got to ‘share the experience’ with them, even if they weren’t Blues fans, as focusing on the contest can be a lot harder at the bar where there are usually many more distractions. However, going to a pal’s place for a fixture is a rare event on this side of the Atlantic.

The time difference makes it hard. Evening contests are broadcast here in the afternoon, so 2pm on a Wednesday is not an option for a get-together for those with regular jobs. Weekend kick-offs, meanwhile, can mean the early hours, and Sunday at 6am is not the optimum time for a play-date for children or adults. The size of the country is also a factor. Chelsea fans are spread from ‘sea to shining sea’ and some of the supporters’ clubs in the USA have members who live hundreds of miles apart.


When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, it flooded 80 per cent of the city and the local football bar closed for seven months. Back then we had no choice but to go to each other’s homes to watch matches and with midweek games, we recorded them, avoided the score, and got together to watch them at dinner time.

These days I enjoy going to the pub to cheer on Chelsea, but this weekend I was in Charlotte, North Carolina, and planned to join the ‘Queen City Blues’ at their downtown headquarters for the Manchester United fixture. However my friend from Northern Ireland, who lives in the city, was on babysitting duty and invited me over to see it at his instead. So that’s what I did, not only to catch up with him but also because it had been so long since I had done that.

Of course, after a promising start, it ended up not going our way. Unfortunately, no matter what venue we watched it in, at home, in a pub, or at a friend’s, the result was still the same.