Carl Chapman, our matchday announcer at Stamford Bridge, was given a surprise he will never forget at the Carabao Cup final to mark his wonderful service to the club.
Chapman, a lifelong Blue, was nominated for the special treat by Chelsea Football Club and his wife Denise, in recognition of his service over the past 30 years and as part of the EFL’s Supporters Surprise initiative.
The day itself may have ended in disappointment for Chelsea as we were beaten on penalties by Manchester City at Wembley, but it was an afternoon which will live long in the memory for Chapman, who will be retiring from his Stamford Bridge duties at the end of this season.
It all started the day before the game when Blues legend Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink arrived at the Wembley Hilton to surprise him. One of the all-time great Chelsea goalscorers, the Dutchman invited Chapman to the match where he would enjoy the full VIP experience.
That meant as well as being able to sample the pre and post-match hospitality, Chapman would also be given the opportunity to place the Carabao Cup trophy on the plinth prior to kick-off.
In order to make him look – and feel – the part, Chapman was also given a club shirt, coat and scarf to wear while walking out on to the hallowed Wembley turf.
What followed was an afternoon of high drama as the match itself went right to the wire, with Maurizio Sarri’s side eventually falling just short following a penalty shoot-out.
As a die-hard Chelsea fan Chapman, like many others, will have headed home feeling a sense of frustration.
That disappointment, however, will have undoubtedly been tempered by the fact he had experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and one he is unlikely to forget any time soon.