As a special treat, my friend Kailyn traveled to London over Christmas specifically to see Chelsea Play at the Bridge. This is her experiences in her own words with her own pics.. ENJOY
“Zone 2 may now board,” a female voice called. She sounded tired, like she wanted nothing more than for this to be over with. Oh right, I reminded myself. It’s Christmas Day.
So here I was, in Charlotte, North Carolina, alone, flying 4100 miles on Christmas Day to see Chelsea Football Club play at Stamford Bridge for the first time. I had tickets in the Shed Upper for a match at 3:00 the next day. I was terrified and exhilarated. Mostly terrified.
Since I was a kid, this was all I had wanted to do. I fell in love with Chelsea when I was 6 years. On kindergarten papers, when we were asked to look into the future, I would write things like, “In 20 years I…. will be at Stamford Bridge” or “When I grow up I want to be… at Stamford Bridge.” My parents were convinced my love of soccer was a phase. It has been a love that has never faded and never quivered. I was excited to finally achieve that which I foresaw as a child.
And before I could register what was actually happening, I was waving goodbye after making plans with my friend, my ticket was being scanned, and my bag was being checked. Then I was through the gates and into the stadium. I walked up the stairs and looked out at the stadium and felt myself start to cry. Get a grip, Kailyn, I begged myself. You’ve been here about three minutes and you’re already crying. Admittedly, I’m a crier. When I watched Chelsea train in St. Louis, I cried as the players ran out onto the pitch. When the line-ups came out of the tunnel for Chelsea versus Manchester City in St. Louis, I cried. When Chelsea ran onto the pitch for a pre-match warm-up against Inter Milan in Indianapolis, I cried. If I was crying just looking at the pitch at Stamford Bridge, God knows how I would react when the actual match started. I bought a cup of tea to calm myself down before I thought of looking for my seat. It was now an hour and a half before the match.
Once I finally managed to calm myself down, I walked out to find my seat. As I looked around the empty stadium, I felt myself tearing up again. This is the Kailyn Cry-a-Thon, apparently. I looked around the stadium at the banners, noticing a few familiar ones. JT: Captain, Leader, Legend. If I Had Two Lives, I’d Give Them Both To You – Forever Chelsea. The Only Place to Be Every Other Saturday. The music booming through the stadium switched to upbeat Christmas music, and I found myself laughing.
Slowly, the stadium began filling up, as did the seats next to me. The players came out to warm-up as the line-ups were announced. The blue flags began waving. The players departed down their respective tunnels and the Chelsea crowd began to stand. The Liquidator began playing and the players appeared back on the pitch, Chelsea led out by their faithful captain, John Terry. I didn’t even try to stop myself from crying.
Petr Cech was named as the goalkeeper for Chelsea, and Tremmel the goalkeeper for Swansea. Chelsea deployed a backline of Ivanovic, David Luiz, John Terry, and Ashley Cole to square off against Swansea’s choice of Angel Rangel, Amat, Williams, and Taylor. In the midfield, Chelsea deployed Ramires and Mikel behind Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Juan Mata. Swansea sent out Britton, Cañas, Pozuelo, Shelvey, and Routledge. Samuel Eto’o went up front for Chelsea while Vásquez took the respective position for Swansea. On the bench, Chelsea placed Schwarzer, Gary Cahill, Frank Lampard, Schürrle, Azpilicueta, Willian, and Fernando Torres. Swansea, meanwhile, gave themselves the options of Zabret, Chico, Taylor, de Guzman, Hernandez, Lamah, and Bony. I found myself disappointed to not see Frank Lampard, he being the one player I had wanted to see. The disappointment was quickly replaced with my normal fear and stress, as the match began.
For the majority of the match, Chelsea dominated. Swansea was rarely allowed a glimpse toward goal, registering only seven shots throughout the 90 minutes, with exactly one of those being on target. Though Chelsea fired 19 shots toward the net, only 7 were on target. In the 29’, Eden Hazard finally found the back of the net, scoring right in front of the Shed End.
In an attempt to make a comeback, Hernández came on for Pozuelo at the half. Sixty minutes in, Swansea made another substitution, as de Guzman came on for Cañas. Jose sent Frank Lampard, André Schürrle, and Willian to warm up, and the Shed End began chanting “Super Frank” at Lampard. Lampard glimpsed our direction and applauded us.
In the 66’, Frank Lampard came on for Oscar and I felt the too-familiar tears spring to my eyes again. I finally got to see Frank Lampard play at Stamford Bridge, I thought to myself. I didn’t even try to stop myself from crying. Especially when I noticed that my teenage heroes, John Terry, Frank Lampard, and Petr Cech, were all on the pitch at the same time. It was a surreal experience.
In the 71’, André Schürrle replaced Juan Mata. I found myself laughing at this, much to the amusement of the guy sitting next to me. Earlier in the day, my friend and I had both purchased Schürrle jerseys at the Megastore. The guy pressing the letters onto the kits had asked “What’s with all the Schürrle shirts?!” after seeing he had to print another. It became a running joke that the Schürrle Fan Club was in town. Add in his mom and his sister and we would have the full set.
Bless his little cotton socks, I love that kid.
Swansea responded by using their final substitution to send in Bony for Wayne Routledge. The score still stood at 1-0 with not much hope from either side in changing it. In the 82’, Willian came on for Eden Hazard. In the corner of the Shed, the song began, and I happily sang along:
The shit from Spurs, they bought his flight, but Willian, he saw the light. He got a call from Abramovich, and off he went to Stamford Bridge. He hates Tottenham, he hates Tottenham, he hates Tottenham, and he hates Tottenham.
The referee found his yellow card in the 85’, booking Amat for a foul. Ramires got a card of his own seconds later for a foul on Bony. It was announced there would be four minutes of added time, but no difference was made. The score stood at 1-0, thanks to a goal by Eden Hazard in the first half.
As I left the stadium, I expected to feel some sort of sadness. Here was this match I had built up so much in my mind, this thing I had been dying to do since I was a child. Now it was over. I expected to want to mourn the end of that experience. But I never did. Instead, I felt just as I do every week – excitement and that all too familiar stress for what came next. I knew I’d be back one day. And I would be just as excited as I was this time.
Perhaps I’ll cry a little less, though.