A game of two halves

I’ve been watching Chelsea games here in the USA for almost 15 years, but I had a first on Sunday when we took on Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup Fourth Round. I saw each half in two separate locations and on different devices.

With the Blues still fighting for trophies on four fronts, it’s hard work trying to keep straight which broadcaster has the rights to each competition. I’ve seen nearly every match we have played this season, and that’s closing in on 40 games already as we enter the sixth month of the campaign. It’s a lot easier to go to my local Irish pub and follow the action there, leaving it to the staff to figure out which platform is showing that day’s contest.

This week I was with my daughter in the small South Carolina town of Greenville, and our 6pm kick-off (1pm eastern time), meant I couldn’t watch the game in our hotel room with checkout at 11am. I resigned myself to settling for her keeping me informed via live updates on the club’s 5th Stand app as we drove back to her home in North Carolina.

Then she got hungry and decided she wanted brunch. So we stopped to eat, and as the restaurant had Wi-Fi, it occurred to me that maybe I could watch the tie. I downloaded the ESPN streaming app, and within seconds of ordering our pancakes (she’s American, come on) I was watching the battle live from Stamford Bridge. For the next 45 minutes, the no-phone-at-the-table rule was suspended.

Serendipitously, we finished our meal at the exact moment the first half ended. What are the odds? Unfortunately, the place closed at 2pm, but there was a coffee shop only six minutes away. We drove there, I unpacked my laptop, and we got set up in time to watch the second period with Chelsea securing a spot in the last 16.

Like many Stateside Blues fans, I’ve found myself resorting to some strange situations in a desperate attempt to watch a match. But even after a decade-and-a-half, it seems I can still find new ways to follow our team: never before had I streamed a contest on my phone, nor had I watched two halves of the same game on a pair of devices in two locations.

I don’t mind one bit. It’s just one more side effect when you enjoy sustained success in a quartet of different directions.

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