Columnist

GILES SMITH’S THURSDAY THOUGHTS

Some things last Saturday were hard to swallow and some things were unavailable to swallow, discovered Chelsea fan Giles Smith as he explains in this week’s column…

The evening didn’t exactly improve, let me put it that way.

I don’t know how everybody else chose to manage the aftermath of Saturday’s abrupt conclusion, but I thought my approach to the situation was pretty textbook. As the history books tell us, since time immemorial mankind has sought solace for the pain of a last-gasp equaliser by going home and ordering a take-away. It’s just what mankind does. Or it’s certainly what I did.

So, after the game, we walked back to the car, mostly in bruised silence, went home - again, mostly in bruised silence - ordered the food, mostly in bruised silence, and waited for it to arrive, still mostly in bruised silence, but now with an added appetite.

And then what happens? The order arrives, and two of the main courses are missing. Two of them! Out of five!

You can imagine the feelings. A late substitute has just got lucky from distance, stealing two superbly earned points from under your nose - and now, not much more than an hour later, two fifths of your supper has gone AWOL somewhere between south Wimbledon and your doorstep. Bruised silence doesn’t begin to describe it.

Indeed, at such a moment, you could surely be forgiven for thinking that the gods of fortune had lined up outside your window to point and laugh and generally entertain themselves mirthfully at your expense.

However, I have to say (and all credit to my family individually here), in due course, a sense of togetherness kicked in - a Blitz spirit, I guess you could call it. Regarding the food, I mean. Not so much regarding the result at that stage. But definitely regarding the food.
 

And what I mean by Blitz spirit is that we got on with it. We made do. We shared what we had. And then we were really grumpy about it for the rest of the night. Especially the two of us whose mains were missing. (Did people complain during the war? I bet they did – and with good reason, in the circumstances. But, oddly, you rarely hear about it.)

I probably don’t need to say, though, that in a world in which Liverpool could punt in an equaliser with seconds remaining, it was no consolation to me to be eating the bits of my daughter’s Pad Thai that she didn’t want. Certainly, at that point, if you had taken a straw-poll around the table of the things about modern life that were most regrettable, at the top of the list would have been the unforeseen resurgence of the career of Daniel Sturridge, and Uber Eats would have been tucked in just behind.

Interestingly, later on, one of my sons, reviewing the things that had made his weekend faulty, would make the observation that ‘Chelsea lost.’ Which, of course, we didn’t. But it did feel a lot like a defeat at the time. The season’s toughest mission so far was so close to being successfully completed, only for Sturridge, of all people, to seize the chance which was fleetingly available to him.

What a match, though. Even at the final whistle, through gritted teeth, you could admit as much and take some compensation from it – from the sense that you had just witnessed something unusually hot. Watching this current side operate has brought a lot of pleasure all season. There’s something liberated and liberating about it, and never more so than on Saturday when the speed of some of the play, in the tightest of circumstances, was (I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say) unparalleled in the club’s history.

And, but for Sturridge swinging his leg, it would have led to us beating the season’s form side and going joint top of the league. Which, though not strictly necessary, would have been nice.

However, on the bright side, it finished 3-2 on aggregate across the two ties, the Wednesday and the Saturday, and I think we’d have more or less taken that, going in. And no one has yet beaten us this season, including the team who had beaten everyone they had met up to that point, apart from us.

And a late equaliser? Well, in those circumstances, it’s pretty much the same as when your takeaway doesn’t show up. You accept what you’ve got. You realise there will be other meals, and other evenings. You lift your head. You swallow your daughter’s unwanted Pad Thai. And you carry on.
 

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