As much as I wish David and I were in London more regularly than once in a blue moon, the fact remains that this was my first trip to London since I was in college, and this was David’s first trip to London for non-business-related reasons. I had never ridden the Tube in London, or really done much than walk around a very limited part of the city. Yet, when we were there, everything felt familiar and comfortable. We never got lost. We never were even confused about where we were. I tried to convince David that this ease of travel was because we were meant to live in London. He wasn’t buying that, but when I mentioned how great it would be if we could go to Chelsea FC games at Stamford Bridge more than once in a lifetime, I think that perked up his interest.
It is not easy to get tickets to Chelsea football games. We joined the supporters club for American fans earlier in the year, but that didn’t mean we could get tickets for this match. Oh no, that would have been too easy. Instead, I decided to pony up some serious cash for hospitality tickets, and call it David’s Valentine’s Day, Anniversary, and possibly every other present for the year. Because Chelsea was scheduled to play crosstown rival Tottenham, the hospitality tickets were even more expensive than usual. However, they were entirely 100% worth it, because we had a pretty fantastic day at Stamford Bridge.
After we arrived at Heathrow, we took the Heathrow Express train bound for Paddington Station to head directly to our hotel to drop off our luggage. We then immediately headed over to Stamford Bridge. The game wasn’t scheduled to start until 5:30pm, but hospitality tickets mean that you have a full range of events offered prior to start time. We wanted to take full advantage of those events, so we arrived at the stadium at 12:30pm. Our hospitality package was the “Day at the Museum” package, so that mean we had the opportunity to fully explore the Chelsea FC museum and such highlights as Jose Mourinho’s famed classic Emporio Armani coat and his desk.
It should be noted that Stamford Bridge is technically located in Fulham, right outside of Chelsea, but nonetheless, club members have pretty high opinions of the relative importance of Chelsea in the world:
While we were exploring the museum, we were also treated to a variety of food and drink options. After a red-eye flight, you better believe I was downing caffeine in the form of Diet Coke.
Also on the pre-match itinerary (yes, another reason I love those English; they actually sent us a matchday itinerary) were tours of Stamford Bridge, time in the Chelsea superstore, and a Q&A Session with Chelsea Legends.
You emerge to this view of the stadium:
We were able to sit in those car seats that are reserved for players during the game. I love that they sit on car seats.
I got to hang out in Jose Mourinho’s chair:
I loved this part of the day, mostly because I could listen to older British people give their opinions on the current world all day. Terry and Ron were very vocal about how there is too much diving in today’s football world and about the terrible gel-ridden hairstyles of today’s youths. David and I both got Peter to sign our matchday programmes. All predicted a Chelsea win over Tottenham.
After all of the pregame events, we headed up to our seats to get ready for the game.
We were in for a real treat. Three adorably English children sat behind us and we were treated to their enthusiastic flag-waving and delightful commentary throughout the game. I know I did an earlier post on this blog about NBC Sports televising the Premier League games in the United States. Well, I am pretty convinced that NBC Sports could build on their success in televising Premier League matches with one simple change: change out the current commentators with British children narrating the matches. Trust me, everyone would watch the games then, because the commentary would be absolutely brilliant and adorable, especially if they hired a kid that bears a strong resemblance to a youthful Harry Potter:
As the stadium began filling up, I did notice that it was overwhelmingly male. Seriously the gender ratio was probably 10:1 or even greater male to female. That meant the shortest bathroom lines ever for me, but incredibly long bathroom lines for David. I wasn’t complaining at the time. I later commented to David though, that it made me kind of sad that while there were dozens of fathers we saw bringing their sons to the match, I didn’t see anyone bringing their daughters. I may complain about the United States about a lot of things, but I will endlessly praise Title IV for attempting to bring parity to women’s sports in the US. The mere fact of Title IV’s existence probably explains not only why the U.S. Women’s soccer team is consistently the best in the world, but also why young girls are far more likely to be seen at soccer games in the U.S. than in other countries. I couldn’t help but hearken back to what I was told by those school girls in Tanzania (former British colony) about gender differentiation in sports: “Boys play football and girls play netball.” (Netball, in my meager opinion is one of the most ridiculous and stupid sports that exists.)
But, I digress. There was an incredibly important football game to be played for the Premier League standings.
The first half both teams were fairly evenly matched and neither team managed a goal. At halftime, Chelsea fans felt somewhat distressed. They had no need to fear. In the second half, we witnessed an epic meltdown by Tottenham.
Chelsea broke the scoring deadlock with a goal from Samuel Eto’o first. Then, a Chelsea penalty kick was awarded after Younes Kaboul was sent off with a red card after taking Eto’o down in the penalty area (the red card was later rescinded after the match). My favorite player, Eden Hazard capitalized with a goal.
Late in the game, Demba Ba scored two more goals on complete defensive breakdowns by Tottenham.
The final score of the game was Chelsea 4-0. So, we were pretty lucky to see some scoring from our favorite Premier League team. We were also lucky because sitting in the stands at a Premier League game is quite an experience. All of the chanting and singing by drunk Englishmen is something to behold.
The celebratory singing and chanting carried us out into the streets after the game where we were met by mounted police. I told David, “It feels like we are in a London riot or something.” It was completely awesome. There are no other words. I love attending North Carolina basketball games, but would I trade them to have season tickets to Chelsea games instead? I don’t know. It might be a fair trade.