Our regular columnist and former Blue has found himself digging into the past for match action during the current void…
Last week I was writing about how much things can change at a football club in seven days, specifically regarding the whirlwind that had been Billy Gilmour’s life. I thought a lot had changed then, but in retrospect it was negligible compared to what has happened over the ensuing seven days.First and foremost the seriousness of the pandemic cannot be taken lightly and that is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. There will be many around the planet suffering, losing loved ones, living in fear and that is from just the virus itself. Then you have to consider the economic effect that cannot be underestimated all the way from companies to every individual. So my thoughts and the club’s go out to anyone struggling.It makes it just a little bit harder that you can’t switch off for a while and get engrossed in some football, being able to leave your cares behind for 90 minutes. You realise now just how important the game is in allowing you that respite, even in ‘normal’ times. Many people around the planet are looking for something else to take their minds somewhere else or even just to while away the hours in self-isolation or under curfew.
I decided to try disappearing down some YouTube wormholes and it worked pretty well. There are plenty of games out there from the past to watch, not to mention a plethora of games, footage, stories and historical information about Chelsea on this website and on the 5th Stand app. I popped back in time and watched the highlights of the Champions League win in Munich and that turned out to be an enjoyable break the other day, just when I was supposed to be at the West Ham vs Wolves match. I couldn’t bring myself to watch anything the day before when I was supposed to be at Villa Park for our game however, I was just missing the real thing too much.Not every single person has access to good broadband, but it is helpful if you have. The joy of typing in a name of an ex-Chelsea favourite to see some old footage and reminding you of his (or indeed her) history is fun.
Seeing every goal Frank Lampard has ever scored for Chelsea is a joy, even if it does take rather a long time! What also pops up are interesting facts about what some of them have done since leaving the club, things that I didn’t know about. It is amazing how many of our former players have set up foundations in various countries to help those not as privileged as themselves. From Deco and Salomon Kalou to Didier Drogba, who has done a massive amount of work for charities and good causes, there is a huge quantity of good work being done by former Blues.
We are always in the midst of times when we should look out for others but right now is a particularly important moment when we all should reach out to help, even if it is just being online and reaching out to be kind and considerate towards those who are worried.
I am currently finishing off a book I am writing and in the interests of accuracy I ended up going down another YouTube wormhole after trying to find a match we played in 1986 against West Ham at Upton Park. There is decent back-post header after about 7 minutes 30 seconds of the highlights! It then led me to looking at that season. There was something weird about it that I had partially forgotten. We only played two games in six weeks between the 2nd February and the 16th March after cancellations due to a horrendously hard late winter.
It was an awful time when we thought the season might not get finished on time. There looked like being too many fixtures to fit in and not enough time to play them. There were international games and also a World Cup looming in Mexico. I recalled thinking as a player that this is incredibly hard to deal with. Training was almost impossible on the brick-hard icy ground and this was long before we had decent indoor facilities or even a synthetic pitch.The country seemed to grind to a halt every other day in the deep freeze and it did feel serious (a game in January at Shrewsbury that did get played is shown at the top), but looking at it now it seems like a piece of cake in comparison to what everyone is having to deal with in the current situation.
Our way of getting some training was to pop off to a warm country and keep the fitness levels up out there. Having said that, the brick hard ground at the stadium in Baghdad, Iraq, where we played turned out to be just as unforgiving as the permafrost back home. That led to another wormhole, there is footage of that game on YouTube but it is 1.41 seconds long and unwatchable quality. They don’t even show our equalising goal! Also, Chelsea are playing in all red, which is a very uncomfortable to watch.Back in the reality of today the players and the clubs can’t pop off anywhere, other than to the bathroom, bedroom or the sitting room. The lack of certainty is hard for fans and players to deal with, even if it is nothing to the suffering of many others just now.The players have to keep in shape as best they can but of course there are huge limitations as to what you can do, who you can do it with and there is also the confusion about how fit you should keep yourself during this period. Do you try to stay at absolute peak fitness in case things start up unexpectedly quickly or do you just tick over knowing that when the restart eventually happens there will be a build-up of a week or two, or maybe more? Who knows?
Of course you have to listen to the advice coming from the club and the wider authorities. The best advice for everyone is just to try to keep yourself safe, be sensible about meeting people depending on what stage the virus is at in whatever country you are in and of course keep washing those hands! Listen to the official advice, it hasn’t always been perfect but it will improve as time goes by and the scientists, medics and those in authority get a handle on what courses of action work better than others.
In the meantime, we can read books we always meant to, watch movies we missed, catch up on box sets and just as importantly talk to people even if it is only on the phone, Skype, Facetime or whatever. I suppose lots of people are doing some of the things they have always meant to get around to doing but never found the time. Even disappearing down YouTube wormholes can be a distraction even if it feels like wasted time. If that is what you want to do it is great fun and there is nothing wrong with that. I would have loved that option back in the winter of ’86.Also remember that throughout history the phrase ‘And this too shall pass’ has been widely used in times of trouble by wise people. It proved to be right before and will be right again this time.
Now I wonder if there is a collection of Tammy Abraham goals somewhere on our site that I can have a look at?