Looking on up

Are you upset if you miss seeing an early Chelsea goal? Or because the Blues are ahead so soon after kick-off, do you not mind coming late to the party? I had the double whammy of not seeing either of the strikes by Antonio Rudiger and Danny Drinkwater in our match against Stoke City.

It hasn’t been a great start to 2018 for this Irish New Orleans-based blogger. The 'arctic blast' has brought record low temperatures to the inhabitants of the southern States, a region where even in winter we are often in t-shirts and shorts.

The heating system broke in my drafty 19th-century wooden house, the pipes froze leaving me without water, then my car heater gave up the ghost. Next my grandmother back home in Belfast, who had made it to 99, died. So did my friend’s husband here in Louisiana at just 52. Both funerals were held on the same day, my dad burying his mother on his birthday just to add to the irony.

That’s why I missed the early brace. My Irish mate lives beside Finn McCool’s, the pub where I watch football, and when I arrived just before kick-off he was loading his car for a nine-hour drive to Tampa to watch the New Orleans Saints play the Buccaneers in the last game of the regular NFL season. He knew about my grandmother’s death so he wanted to offer his condolences, and we chatted and caught up for a bit. When I ducked into the warmth of the bar, it was 10 minutes into the fixture and we were already 2-0 up.

During the most one-sided contest I’ve seen this season, and with it obvious the three points were secure, my mind kept drifting to my grandmother’s life. She died just five months short of making it into three figures - when she was born, World War One was still raging. That’s crazy, right?

Chelsea Football Club was only 13 years old. She was 37 before they won a trophy, the 1955 Division One title. In the first professional football campaign in her lifetime, the 1919/20 season which was when the sport returned after The Great War, the Blues ended in third place. It was the highest-ever finish for a London team.    

It’s almost a century later, but at the end of her remarkable life, Chelsea are still third in the table and the top club in the capital.