Stephen Rea, our resident Stateside blogger, explains the unconventional lengths some will go to watch their team in action on a Saturday afternoon...
The international break brings a lie-in for Chelsea fans in the USA. No early-morning alarm call dragging them out of bed before dawn, and no bleary-eyed drive in the dark to hit the pub to watch the Blues before even the keenest rooster is ready to announce daybreak.
Here in Louisiana we are six hours behind the UK, while in California and the rest of the Pacific seaboard, it’s eight hours. Recently I fell between both on a trip to the Mountain time zone and its seven-hour difference.
We flew into Salt Lake City for four nights in and around the famous Yellowstone National Park, and drove almost 1,000 miles, through tiny towns with bizarrely specific signs reading that their population was 136 or 279.
I knew there was no chance of finding a bar in which to see our game against Norwich City, but even if there was, the 12.30pm kick-off translated to a 5.30am start out in Big Sky Country. The match was streaming live on a Stateside digital channel, so in theory I could have watched it on my laptop - but I knew our accommodation, deep in the heart of Montana, was what might euphemistically be called 'rustic.'
Still, when we arrived late at a converted former school, miles from anywhere, the owner said they had wifi! However, he told us that when the building had been rewired in the Seventies, they had used material which impeded the signal, so it didn’t work in the bedroom. He suggested I wander the halls to try to find a good spot.
After driving hundreds of miles, then hiking for hours in the soaring heat, I knew a 5.30am start was never on the cards anyway. Somehow though, I woke around half-six and checked my phone. We were 3-2 ahead. I had to catch the last half-hour.
I jumped out of bed, fired up the laptop, and prowled the rambling building like I was Jack Torrance in The Shining - well, if he had been a supporter of the Londoners and attempting to follow the action from Carrow Road. I finally found a spot with decent reception and sat, half-dressed, on the landing as we saw out the win and earned the three points.
One of my more unusual Chelsea-watching experiences. But for our True Blues in the American west, a 6.30am start is often par for the course.
By Stephen Rea, Blogger from America