On my final Saturday in London, I attended the fixture (match, game, battle, etc) between Chelsea and Fulham. Chelsea Football Club is the club of my neighborhood in London. Fulham is the next neighborhood over, so the supporters of one are the neighbor of the other.
We walked to the match, a home game at the Monster Dome. I mean, football stadium. (Just in case you don’t know, I am talking about Soccer. The rest of the world loves it and calls it football.) We passed pubs with piles of people on the sidewalks, there were also Six Nations Rugby matches that day. As we neared the club, bobbies (cops, police, the fuzz) on horses came down the middle of the closed street. Suddenly I remembered, football fans are hooligans and sometimes people die at football games.
We stopped to get hot dogs and one last trip to the clean loo outside and then got in the cue (line, on line, in line) for our sections. We were headed up to the upper tier. The cue was quite long and you must enter through gates. The gates are a lot like the ones you exit the el through, full body, but much tighter. As we pass through these gates and I listen to the Fulham fans chanting at us, I think, “sometimes people die at football matches.”
We head up and up and up and through the crowds and over knees and find our seats up at the top at the stadium. People in Chelsea gear settle in around us including two older die-hard fans and a new fan to my right. He was about six and was at his first game with his dad. My favorite cheer of his was, “Quit randomly kicking the ball around and slowing down the game.” He really said that after getting scolded for too many choruses of “Go Chelseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-uh. Go Chelseeeeeeeeeeeeee-uh.”
As the teams were announced the Fulham Fans made a mess of our stadium (our stadium) with white and black balloons and confetti. Hundreds of balloons littered the pitch (field, grass, turf) and the Fulham goalie went around stomping them out before the game. Some balloons survived and would show up next to the football at inopportune moments and float under the feet of racing footballers. Also, the ballons would get caught in the wind and shoot up four or five stories to the top of the stands. This made me dizzy to watch.
The wind picked up and the flags at the top of the stadium were blowing north and as the wind swept down into stadium, you could see the corner flags and footballers clothes blowing south. Eventually it began to rain and the football got sloppy. Over all, Chelsea won 2-1. All goooooooooooooooooooooooooals were made in the first half at the goal we were in front of. After the first goal, the older men behind us hugged us with joy.
After the match, we waited for everyone else to clear out. If we weren’t dead yet, I wasn’t going to risk it in the final rush to get to a pub to talk out the future of Ranieri and the team. Then we waited with the teenage boys and girls for autographs from our favorite (okay, any) footballers. We went home autographless, but sated from a good afternoon at the pitch.