In his latest column for the official Chelsea website, our American blogger explains why there were so many people in attendance at his local bar for our clash with Manchester United, despite it being shown at 1.30pm on a Monday over in his area of the States...
Chelsea’s match against Manchester United was not just the most attractive tie of the FA Cup fifth round, it was the biggest game of this year’s competition.
The holders versus the club who have won it more times than any other. A repeat of last season’s final. The Blues, England’s most successful team over the past decade, taking on Europe’s in-form outfit for a place in the last eight.
There was probably a good deal of hype around the much-anticipated battle back in the UK, but for those of us in the States, it was a more low-key affair. Here in the Central time zone for example, the showdown kicked off at 1.30pm on a Monday. It was hardly a prime time event.
But in New Orleans at least, the pub was packed with fans of both sides. Because as luck would have it, the contest coincided with a federal holiday.
Monday was Presidents’ Day in the USA, the equivalent of a bank holiday. Many offices shut, schools closed, banks and post offices had a day off. Not every business observed it, but I’m sure that many Chelsea fans who found themselves behind a desk ducked out early, or took an extra-long lunch break, to catch the action from the Bridge.
In the Big Easy, we probably had fewer supporters of both clubs in the bar than in other American cities. The Mardi Gras celebration is fast approaching - it’s less than two weeks away - and on Fat Tuesday every shop and office in the city puts the shutters up, except for the bars in the French Quarter.
It means some companies make up for that extra day off (that nowhere else in the country gets) by taking away one of the other national holidays from their staff. Presidents’ Day is usually the one sacrificed.
The Irish pub where I watched the match was crammed, especially surprising when you consider it took place around lunchtime on a weekday in winter. It meant the best atmosphere for a Blues game that we have had there in months.
Of course the result was not what we were hoping for, but there are worse ways to pass a couple of hours on a chilly Monday. Even watching Chelsea lose is better than spending an afternoon working, right?