Tuning into the Blues from afar
The Far East Stand Fri 12 Jan 2018
Thanks to technological advancements, it has become a lot easier to keep up with how Chelsea are doing when you’re far away from the comforts of home.
It was a struggle at times in the past to find out how the Blues were doing when I was on vacation or on a working trip.
In 1994, I missed our first appearance in the FA Cup final in 24 years while on a summer trip to Toronto. Unable to watch a live TV broadcast of the game during those pre-internet times, I had to wait until the following day to read a short three-paragraph report in a newspaper about our disappointing loss to Manchester United.
Things had improved a bit when I was in New Zealand in 2002 and was keen to find how the Blues had got on in a league game against Manchester City.
There was no live TV once again but I found an internet café where I pored over match reports on multiple websites to get more details on the 3-0 win on our final visit to Maine Road. YouTube had not been created yet and it could take hours rather than seconds to download a video, so watching the match highlights wasn’t really a feasible option.
Ten years later, I found myself at an Indonesian resort on the night of the Champions League final when we discovered at kick-off time that that the regular channels in the sports bar were not broadcasting the game.
I tuned in to the live audio commentary on the BBC World Service which kept me updated until the bar staff managed to find a satellite feed. In the end, I missed most of the televised action in the first half but it didn’t matter too much as I got to see the important bits at the end when Didier Drogba equalised and then converted the penalty which won us the Champions League trophy.
Which brings me to last month when I was on the South Korean island of Jeju and the Blues met Bournemouth in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.
While there were over 100 channels on my hotel room TV, none of them covered the game so I had to go online to find out what was happening at the Bridge. I used a three-pronged method to follow the match – reading the BBC website’s live text feed, listening to the live audio broadcast on Chelsea TV and searching YouTube and other online sources to view video clips of the goals.
I had done the same thing in Japan a fortnight earlier for our Champions League match against Atletico Madrid. However, while the Chelsea TV audio commentary for Atletico was only accompanied by a match centre graphic which listed the scoreboard, line-ups and match clock, the Bournemouth game also provided us with real-time video of Ben Andrews and Jason Cundy as they commentated on proceedings at the Bridge.
While I would have preferred to have watched the action on the pitch live, the experience proved more than worthwhile, thanks to Mr Cundy.
The former Chelsea defender makes no secret of his passion for the club and when Dan Gosling equalised for the Cherries in the final minute, his disappointment was obvious as he put down his microphone, slumped back into his chair and covered his face with his hands. He took some time to regain his composure before giving a somewhat subdued and disengaged description of the goal.
The frustration was clearly etched on his face but he suddenly stood up when the Blues broke forward immediately after the restart, and then celebrated wildly after Alvaro Morata had tucked the ball into the net to secure a 2-1 win.
In that moment, Cundy’s spontaneous celebrations channelled the raw emotions that all of us would have felt as Chelsea fans after watching our Blues squander a late lead before instantly regaining it with virtually the last kick of the game.
It was a great memory to take from the game, one that I may recall more vividly than the goal itself in time to come, and it added to the library of great Chelsea moments that I have watched, heard, read or experienced in my time as a Blues supporter.