Video evidence

You can find some real gems on YouTube from time to time.

This week, I came across what is probably the first-ever Chelsea season review video, which covered the 1986/87 season. You can view it here.

From a historical perspective, it’s a pretty significant artefact, documenting a roller-coaster campaign for the Blues who were bottom of the table at Christmas after winning only three of our first 20 league games before staging a recovery in the second half of the season to finish in 14th place.

However, what makes the video so interesting for someone watching it 30 years on is just how amateurish it looks.

To be fair, the presenter of the programme has no delusions of grandeur, stating in his introduction: ‘What you’re watching is, we believe, the first attempt that has been made – and I do stress attempt – to piece together what we would describe as a yearbook on [video] cassette.’

The video doesn’t rise above his low expectations. The presenter struggles with reading and remembering his script in front of a static camera; the match footage is often out of focus and restricted to home games, and there are no fancy subtitles, graphics or video replays throughout the programme.

Frankly, it’s a mess but fortunately the producers of our season review video have significantly upped their game in the past 30 years.

I recently purchased the 2016/17 season review and having already watched if a few times, I can vouch for it being an excellent chronicle of a memorable campaign for Blues supporters.

It’s the first time the Chelsea season review has been made available in Blu-ray so we can relive again and again in High Definition such great moments as the demolition of Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, Eden Hazard’s stunner against Arsenal, Michy Batshuayi’s dramatic title winner at West Brom and John Terry lifting the Premier League trophy for the final time as a Chelsea player.

With high production values and a finely polished presentation, it is a video worthy of the Champions and will sit proudly in the Chelsea DVD collection which I have amassed over the past 16 years.

And yet I can’t help but wonder in this day and age just how long the club will continue to produce an end-of-season video review.

It’s probably a no-brainer in a season like the one which we just enjoyed but would it be done if we were to endure another disappointing campaign like 2015/16?

What used to be a common practice with most Premier League clubs just a few years ago now seems to be done by a select few with a quick search on Amazon revealing that only Liverpool, Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion also have 2016/17 season reviews available for sale.

And given that all of our match highlights are now available on demand on Chelsea TV and can also be found elsewhere on the internet, it may not be too long before the Blues also decide to do away with the practice as well.

For someone who has faithfully collected every season review video since 2001/02, it would be a huge disappointment if it ever came to that because I see these DVDs as chapters in the long-running story of the club. 

Like a good book or movie, there’s nothing linear about the history of our beloved club, and we’ve had good and bad moments, and joyful and sad experiences through all of our years as supporters.

With those season review DVDs, I can relive them again on my TV and also share those memories with my son as he discovers more about the rich history and legacy of Chelsea Football Club.