On the big and little screen

Have you ever crowded around a tiny screen to watch a Chelsea match? Well, we did it this week.

I remember the exact date that I first watched the action from a Blues game - indeed, any game - on a phone. March 25, 2004, the day after we drew 1-1 with Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge.

I was in Australia on a six-month around-the-world trip and was walking in Perth - the most remote city on Earth, closer to Jakarta in Indonesia than to its own country’s capital - wearing my Chelsea shirt. A bloke approached me and asked, “Did you see the goals from last night?” He pulled out his phone and played them for me. I was blown away. More than 14 years ago, the ability to do that seemed mind-boggling to me and I emailed my friends back home to tell them what had happened. Now following a fixture on a mobile is commonplace for many Blues supporters.

However, it was unplanned occurrence for us four Chelsea fans who showed at our local pub to watch the Crystal Palace contest on Sunday morning, to find there was a problem with NBC Gold, the American digital channel broadcasting it.

We got two tantalising glimpses from London. Twice fleeting images flashed up, each maybe lasting a second, then on both occasions the picture blacked out again. As the staff rebooted the system and tried to switch the match to other TVs, it became obvious it was a nationwide glitz. A fellow Blue pulled up a UK feed on his phone, and we crowded around it for the first 10 minutes.

Then a visiting Eagles fan managed to stream the game through his app, and we air-played it to a full-size screen. “It’ll be fine until the missus rings me,” he quipped. Obviously we expected him to ignore the call if she did.

At the interval, the main NBCSN channel changed their programming and broadcast the second half of our game from the Bridge. They must have been getting a lot of angry calls. The bar showed it on three different screens and the football-watching public in America were (presumably) placated.

We thanked the Palace fan and he left. Another big win for us, even if we had to watch part of it on a small screen.

By Stephen Rea, Blogger from America