Why I’m a Chelsea fan
Supporting a team when you are a football fan is perhaps the most rewarding thing you can do. It significantly adds to the meaning and enjoyment of the sport. It also provides you with a focal point – something which is needed in a sport which is simply too vast to spread that same level of love and interest across more than one or two teams.
Choosing your team as a kid is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. It is one of your first “love” relationships. When you pick that team, that’s (usually) it. You stick with that team through thick and thin. You will cry for that team; you will get beaten up for that team; you will endure misinformed statistical arguments from idiots at work for that team; you will cheer for that team; and you will sacrifice work and play for that team.
Unconditional love is an absolute necessity when you are a football supporter. Your team lets you down more than anything in your life. However, if you lose to your main rival or even when you get relegated, as a football fan, for that next game, once you rid yourself of that protective pessimism, there is inherent optimism and belief which keeps you coming back. Above all else, when it’s all said and done, being a football fan is supposed to be enjoyable. However, as a Chelsea fan this season, I am struggling to identify a period previously where my love for the club has being tested on an almost daily basis.
From the high of winning the Champions League for the first time in their history, Chelsea have come crashing back down to earth and are now buried in shit. Already this season, the club have been involved in controversies to last a lifetime. The shameful episodes are well known and I won’t recite them in detail here. Personally, the John Terry race row and the Mark Clattenburg – whatever it was – have been the most humiliating for me as a fan. This was a club who made an unsubstantiated complaint against a referee and then refused to apologise when they were mistaken. The fact the club made a complaint wasn’t the error – not at all. It was their conduct during the saga and when making the complaint itself. The staggering sanctimonious arrogance was not needed especially when a referee’s career was under threat. What added insult to injury was Chelsea’s embarrassing attempt to be the face of football’s fight against racism when only weeks previously they refused to adequately punish their captain who actually admitted calling a fellow professional a “black cunt”. How can such a club be taken seriously?
And there’s the Di Matteo saga, which was just absolutely pathetic. The man was too classy for Chelsea anyway. Di Matteo fell on his sword because of a few bad results, when what seemed to be forgotten was that he was trying to implement the changes so badly sought after by Roman Abramovich. People at the top simply do not understand football it seems. When you change your team’s tactics overnight to all out attack, you are going to be vulnerable at the back. When you persist which an absolutely garbage £50 million striker, despite having some of the best creative players behind him, the goals will just not come. Why is Roman surprised by this? And why the fuck does he think Rafa is the answer? He has actually made things worse!
The Chelsea fans continue to embarrass themselves. The 16th minute applause for Di Matteo in the first game after his sacking against Man City was touching and rather classy. However, 2 games later it becomes irresponsible. To boo Rafael Benitez (a man I respect although deeply dislike) is simply daft. Like it or not, he is the manager of the team right now and he has to be supported. Booing him is booing the team and it’s undermining and poisoning the club. It amazes me to see how stupid some fans are when they can’t see how this is damaging the team as a whole. This all has to be halted before the damage becomes irreparable.
My current relationship with Chelsea Football Club is like that you have with that racist uncle everyone hates. You tolerate him because he is family, but when he says he can’t come to Christmas dinner this year you silently rejoice. He is that guy who embarrasses you when you are seen with him or when you say you know him. Chelsea at times this season are just like that uncle: embarrassing, occasionally racist, unlovable, but I still find myself going back for more. When does the cost of being a fan become too great? Is it when I find that I no longer enjoy watching games? Is it when watching games becomes an obligation rather than a consciously selected pastime? Over the last month, I have actually disliked watching Chelsea games to the point of deep resentment. I’m increasingly asking myself why I’m continually spending my time and money on this club in the face of the shame, terrible leadership, poor performances and Neanderthal fans. Whenever I ask myself this question, the answer I get is the same: I love Chelsea. It’s that simple and this is why I’ll be there in the cold on Wednesday watching us become (potentially) the first holders of the Champions League to be knocked out at the Group Stages. But, is it costing me too much when I don’t enjoy it anymore?