It must be about a month ago that I had a notification on Facebook (or “The Face” as Old Mother Baby refers to it); “Ross Mooring has invited you to an event”. The event in question was marked “KTBFFH pre-climb drinks” in Balham, and not having any previous engagement for the evening concerned, I accepted.
The event in question was a send-off for two fine, brave, Chelsea fans, Clive Osgood (no relation) and Amanda Pesqueira, who in a few days time will climb Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, to raise funds for the Right to Play charity. When they reach the summit, they will proudly fly their Gate 17 and Miss SW6 flags, hence “Keep The Blue Flag Flying High”. The climb has featured prominently in Chelsea blogs over the last few months, received support from the club and was promoted weekly on The Chelsea Fancast, usually under the name “Kill a Man for his Giro” which is, of course, an amusing corruption of Kilimanjaro, instigated by podcast ringmaster David Chidgey.
However, cometh the day, cometh the financial crisis. I really wanted to go, but was borderline penniless. With a sigh, I sent a “Miss Baby regrets” reply and turned up for work dressed for several serious meetings, rather than anticipating a night on the razz. However, following an exchange on Twitter with Dan Levene (aka BluesChronicle) and Tim Rolls (aka Tim Rolls), I was persuaded to attend courtesy of my flexible friend for an evening of Chelsea fun and frolics.
Thus it was I arrived at “The Grove” pub between Clapham South and Balham tubes, and the first thing I saw was Blues Chronicle manoeuvring his trusty steed through the doors. Tim Rolls was already there, Ross was busy behind the bar, and Ossie and Amanda were greeting the early arrivals. Before long, other members of the Fancast posse turned up, along with He Who Must Not Be Named and Mark Worrall, carrying between them an incredibly convincing (and heavy) replica of the European Cup. Other well-known fan faces in attendance included Cliff Auger, who less than 24 hours previously had appeared in BBC3’s documentary, “Can We Trust The Police” in a harrowing account of his family’s treatment at the hands of the Old Bill following Chelsea’s 3rd Round FA Cup tie versus QPR in 2008. In an act of stupendous generosity, Ossie and Amanda had put a tab behind the bar to say thank you to their supporters and the guests spent a pleasant hour mingling and catching up on Munich experiences. From a personal point of view, it was lovely to finally meet CFCUK’s Walter Otton. Sadly he wasn’t wearing his legendary orange shorts.
It had been rumoured that a surprise celebrity guest would be attending, and having popped to the ladies, when I got back to the bar I found that the mystery star had arrived and was none other than 80s legend, Paul Canoville, who generously posed alongside the replica cup with happy partygoers for photo ops.
Another of the evening’s highlights was a KTBFFH quiz, and Canners got hold of the microphone to usher the guests to the tables to start. It had a bit of a feeling of being at school at that point. Was anyone with a half decent knowledge of Chelsea stats going to ask you to be in their team? Or were you going to be the adult equivalent of the fat kid no-one wanted? Happily for me, I teamed up with Blues Chronicle, noted blogger @daspecial_1 and prolific Twitterer @xLizziDx to form “The Twitter Trollops”. With a bucket of chips and a cheeseboard to aid concentration, and Darren Mantle of the Fancast acting as compere (issuing a stern warning that phones were to be turned off so no-one cheated by googling the answers or indeed phoning Rick Glanvill), the combatants settled down to battle.
As the questions were rolled out, ranging from which player adorns the weather vane atop the East Stand* to who Peter Osgood would least trust with his wife on a night out**, the teams murmured potential answers between them, being wary to keep their voices down lest they be overheard by their neighbours. The picture round where you had to identify who/what was missing from a picture, was something that could be addressed between questions, and our team scribbled down some of the more difficult questions in hope of finding answers later. Halfway through, answer papers were swapped with adjoining tables for marking.
When the answer to the Osgood question was read out by Darren, there was a huge groan from the Fancast team. The team having identified the correct answer, Chel Tel had changed it to something else, thus depriving them of a precious point. He subsequently found himself subject to a volley of abuse from Chidge, and threats that the show could be looking for a new panellist next season. Ours came back with 13½. Not bad, we thought, bearing in mind we probably had the youngest average age of the teams.
The second half kicked off and again the questions spread over the history of the club, as diverse as the identity of the opponents in Chelsea’s record aggregate win in Europe*** (½ a point for the team, ½ a point for the correct spelling), who was the next player after Kerry Dixon to score 20 goals in a season (and who came closest to achieving it prior to him)****, and which three Welsh players had won the Player of the Year accolade*****. Again, the papers were swapped, and the scores added up. Sadly, the team with Canners, Mrs Canners, Ossie and Amanda tanked, finishing bottom. The Twitter Trollops were relieved to come fourth with 26½ points. “Old Enough To Know Better”, including He Who Must Not Be Named, Mark Worrall and Tim Rolls were third. The Fancast Team were second, and, having sat right in the corner with little fuss for the duration, “….And Leicester” were announced as the winners. Their prize was a 50 percent split of the £3 entry fee for the quiz, which they kindly donated straight back to Ossie and Amanda.
Following the quiz, a silent auction of Chelsea memorabilia, including a Fernando Torres shirt, and a 2011-2012 shirt signed by the whole team, took place (winners to be notified later), followed by further photo ops with the convincing replica European Cup. And that was pretty well the end of a very enjoyable evening.
Now the serious bit. Amanda and Ossie are doing not only an incredibly worthwhile thing from the fundraising point of view, it’s also massively brave on a personal level. All their friends and supporters wish them the best of luck and love for their climb, and look forward to their safe return. Any sponsorships/donations are, of course, gratefully received and you can find Amanda’s Just Giving page here http://www.justgiving.com/Amanda-Pesqueira. You can read more of Ossie and Amanda’s inspiring story and their motivation for the expedition at http://ktbffhkilimanjaro.wordpress.com.
Finally, it would be extraordinarily remiss of me not to also mention that Dan Levene of the Fulham Chronicle ( aka @BluesChronicle) is also undertaking a huge charity endeavour this weekend, riding the 300 miles from Maastricht in Holland to the Royal Naval College in Greenwich between 1st and 3rd July. Again, this is in aid of Right to Play and donations/ sponsorships are welcome. You can find Dan’s page here http://www.justgiving.com/dan-levene and it goes without saying that everyone wishes him the best of luck also.
Next weekend, I’m at the Football Supporters Federation Fans’ Weekend, and there’ll be a look behind the scenes in my next blog. Slightly further ahead, we’ll also be considering the latest developments ahead of the re-arranged Chelsea Pitch Owners EGM.
* George “Gatling Gun” Hilsdon
** Ian Hutchinson
*** Jeunesse Hautcharage
**** Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was the next player to score 20 in a season, Tore Andre Flo was the player who came nearest
***** Joey Jones, Eddie Niezwicki and Mark Hughes