For most of the Stamford Bridge faithful, the real start of the season will come at the weekend, when Chelsea play Leicester in their first home Premier League game. For 4,000 lucky (and hardy) souls, the trip to Burnley on Monday night was made well worth their while by a sparkling 3-1 win, with the Master of Cesc winning plaudits from pundits and fans alike, and the big beast Costa scoring in his full debut. There was even an early season run-out for returning legend Didier Drogba.
But let’s rewind a couple of days. Last Saturday, the Chelsea Supporters Trust AGM was held in the Attenborough Suite at the Copthorne Hotel, but beforehand Trust members were invited to enjoy a free visit to the Chelsea Museum behind the Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge, which was arranged by a generous benefactor. An enthusiastic group gathered outside Frankies in the August sun, and were met by our tour guide, Shaun, who had a surprise in store for us. Although we were only supposed to be visiting the museum, he took us in a door leading into the stadium, where a group photo was taken. Then it was on to the museum, and first of all photographs were taken with the replica Champions League and Premier League trophies, which the visitors would be able to download free of charge as a momento.
We were taken up in a lift to the second floor and then Shaun bade us farewell and left us to enjoy the contents for ourselves. First, eyecatchingly, was a cast of Petr Cech, mid-dive, created for the “It’s Blue. What else matters?” advertising campaign. However, that was just the start of 90 minutes of discovery and memories. Undoubtedly, the 2012 Champions League win takes pride off place, filling the first section, with all the player shirts hung up and what is probably the “real” replica. Petr Cech’s gloves from the game, with which he saved the shootout-turning penalty are also proudly displayed. The two huge models of Stamford Bridge before and after the rebuild called for a good 10 minutes’ poring over, with old wooden seats from the West Stand bringing plenty of reminiscences from those who used to sit on them, complete with a chance to sit on them again! There’s a positive cornucopia of pre-season tour trophies and pennants, and plenty of interactivity for younger visitors and families, with a “shooting gallery” (that’s ball skills, not rifles), a chance to compare your reflexes to Peter Bonetti’s, and a delightful “Peppers’ ghost” 3D exhibit, featuring Chelsea fan Phil Daniels interviewing Ron Harris and Marcel Desailly. And for a club that’s received a fair amount of stick for its policy over the last few years, there’s a very evocative section devoted to the Chelsea youth system and the gems it’s unearthed over the years.
The Chelsea Museum is brilliantly curated by club historian, Rick Glanvill, and whether you’re an overseas visitor or born in SW6, it’s an essential part of the Stamford Bridge experience.
After a brief break for lunch, the serious business of the day got underway, with a well-attended AGM. I’m not going to bore you with the details (minutes of the meeting will be uploaded to the CST website shortly), but the agenda drew a number of worthwhile responses and questions from the floor and online, and it was great to see a number of first-time attendees at the meeting. AGM voting commenced on Sunday, and the polls are open until Sunday 31st August.
So you might have missed out on attending the AGM this year, but you can attend the regularly scheduled Special General Meetings during the season, as well as having your say on the issues that matter, by signing up for the CST. Annual membership is just £5 per annum, and includes an exclusive badge which is already a collector’s item. You can join up at www.chelseasupporterstrust.com.
Sing Our Own Song
One of the highlights of Monday night’s game at Burnley was the phenomenal performance by our supporters, with the Blue Faithful creating a 90 minute wall of sound. Already, Thibaut Courtois and Diego Costa have their own chants, which is great, but you can’t help but spare a thought for Petr Cech. Ten years at the club, and we’ve never (to my knowledge) been able to dredge up a song for Big Petr. And I have a theory about this. We had a similar problem with Juan Mata, before coming up with the frankly disappointing “Juan Mata my Lord”. And the answer, M’Lud, is syllabobbles. Players with only two syllables in their name. The fewer the syllables, the more difficult it is to make a name scan. Add to a dearth of available choonage, the syllabically challenged, no matter how much they’re loved, are likely to find themselves bottom of the league.
Chelsea Charity Heroes
Just a reminder that Martin Wickham and his friends are walking all the four west London professional football grounds and on to Wembley on 6th September under the banner “West London United” in memory of their friend Tom for the PKD (Polycystic Kidney disease) Charity UK. You can find out more and sponsor them here https://www.justgiving.com/WLU/.
Robert Rea is running the Half Parks Marathon on 12/10/14 in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association inspired by plight of his friend Eric River. You can read Eric’s moving story at http://learnlovelive.co.uk and you can sponsor Rob at https://www.justgiving.com/Robert-Rea/.
And well done to all the Chelsea Supporters out there who are so generously giving their time to take part in the Poppies At The Tower project, which will cover the Moat at the Tower of London with 888,246 poppies to mark the Centenary of World War One. There’s a Twitter hashtag, #TowerPoppies with the latest news and if you want to get involved, you can volunteer at http://www.hrp.org.uk/volunteer.
We’ll be back with all the news around SW6 as the season unfolds, but in the meantime you can follow me on Twitter @BlueBaby67.