Southampton - 16th September 1995
This picture was on my wall until Gullit got sacked. Football is fickle.
©PA via BBC
I had been going to Chelsea for around three years by now and, although I enjoyed going, it wasn't until the 1995/96 season that my love turned into a full on infatuation.
The signing of Ruud Gullit for me is the biggest single thing to change the fortunes of Chelsea in our history. His introduction to the team, just as foreign superstars had started to end their careers in England, changed the perception of our team as one in a fashionable area to one as a fashionable team.
Without Gullit we wouldn't have seen the plethora of foreign imports to our club over the next few years, he was a massive name and perhaps up until this point the biggest to decide to grace the Premiership. So it was as a 10-year-old I spent the whole summer eagerly awaiting the new season so I could see our biggest signing in action.
It wasn't until 16th September that I got to see Gullit in action for the first time in blue, by now I was an extremely excited 11 year-old, and what a day to remember.
After all, not only had Gullit signed in that summer but extraordinarily we had somehow managed to persuade Mark Hughes of Man United to leave them whilst he still had something in the engine. One of the best things about this era was the crudely sellotaped posters I had on my wall of Glenn Hoddle standing with both Hughes and Gullit during that summer. It was simply inconceivable to see these two players with a Chelsea scarf dangled round their neck whilst holding a cheap looking Chelsea ball.
The game itself is a slightly vague memory. After all it was almost 16 years ago, I can be forgiven a slight lapse. What I do remember is holding the programme with pride, it was the day that we were officially celebrating the 90th anniversary of the club. In hindsight who would have thought we would only wait another 10 years for League success again. On that day I managed to fulfil a father/son dream and got to meet players I had been brushing up on in the previous years gone by, Ron Harris, Bonetti and probably others were there to sign my treasured programme. Great days.
Anyway. Back to the match. I seem to remember us giving Southampton a bit of a pasting for the majority of the game, but it took until the 74th minute for Frank Sinclair to break the deadlock.
Don't get me wrong, I was happy we had taken the lead. But I had that familiar feeling that all fans have when there are new signings on display. I was a bit disappointed. Why couldn't Gullit or Hughes have scored!!
I cannot see anyone disagreeing with that feeling, we all have it. We will have it on opening day this season, and we had it last season. If anybody says they weren't slightly sad that Torres didn't score in a game when somebody else did, they are probably lying.
So I have said I don't remember much of the match. I certainly don't remember Frank Sinclair popping up to score in the 74th. But there is no doubt in my mind at the remembrance of the catharsis experienced when at 89 minutes Hughes headed the ball toward Ruudi, and the Dutchman expertly volleyed in past Chelsea old boy Dave Beasant.
An 11 year-olds dream day made better. The strangest thing about all this is that far from remembering the first goal in the game, I remember the post Gullit celebration where I turned around to a similar aged kid behind me, blonde, spiky haired and funnily enough Dutch looking, and gave him a celebratory high five. Perhaps he felt the same as me, it was a release of anticipation.
The best part is that the dream wasn't over, just a couple of minutes later Mark Hughes popped up and knocked one in the net to make it a fantastic three. Still to this day one of the best memories of my life, I wonder if the blonde haired kid remembers it too? I would hope so, especially as he got a second high five as Hughesy sent the Matthew Harding et al into delirium.
Read The Independent's take on one of my best
Manchester United - 3rd October 1999
Rare viewing of the lesser spotted Sutton goal...
Just four years on from the aforementioned Southampton tie, and Chelsea were a very different prospect. 1997 had seen us win the FA Cup, and 1998 saw us win the poor man’s' double of the Cup Winners' Cup and the League Cup.
Gullit had been appointed and relieved of the managerial role, and in the line-up on this October day Chelsea were starting with 2 World Cup winners, and Chris Sutton.
Sutton had signed in the summer for an astonishing £10m. He was to be our saviour. The man with so much to prove and an international starting place to establish. How many times did us fans feel that emotion I touched upon above. That feeling of "if only Sutton had scored..."
The forthcoming victory is in my top five mainly for the fact that United had just won an immense treble (not the poor man's either, League, FA Cup and the Champions' League).
Oh and also that at this point everybody of my age (15 by now) had an indefatigable hatred for the club that so many peers in my home counties upbringing had pledged their long distance allegiances towards.
28 seconds was all we had to wait, Poyet taking advantage of the first of many of that days' errors by Massimo Taibi in the United nets.
So there again crops up that feeling, why Sutton? WHY!?
Luckily that feeling abated after 16 minutes. A two month wait finally over and Sutton has headed in Chelsea's second, and his first league goal for us. Not to mention that we were smashing the treble winners 2-0 after only a sixth of the game had elapsed.
For those of us at the time thinking that signalled the end of Sutton's travails in front of goal, that was his only league goal of the campaign - his other goals came in a Champions' league qualifier in August, and an FA Cup demolishing of mighty Hull in the third round.
Chelsea took almost another 40 minutes to add to their tally, but a quick fire two from Poyet and Henning Berg in his own net sent us into ecstasy. Especially at the ignominy of seeing United knock in a goal for us, unforgettable reactions in the replays of Berg - hands on head.
Once more the icing on the cake came late in the game, with diminutive Jody Morris wheeling away blowing his own trumpet (literally, he celebrated with pretending his hand was a trumpet!?) in the 81st. Once again the thing I remember clearly is my reaction to the 4th and 5th goals. Screaming at the bloke who sits behind me (and still does, hello Richard if you are reading!) asking him several times if "we were dreaming".
Read the text commentary for the Guardian here....
Liverpool - 11th May 2003
The biggest goal in our history?
This game will be mentioned in the annuls of history as the game that changed Chelsea forever. I think it did, but there is no saying that we wouldn't have been bought by Abramovich had we not beaten Liverpool to the 4th Champions' League spot.
If we were romanticists though, and I often am, I would like to think that Jesper Gronkjaer, aside from sealing his exit from the club, was solely responsible for the goal that persuaded a multi billionaire, and unheard of, Russian to turn Chelsea into his ultimate rich man’s' toy. So from the bottom of my heart. Thanks Jesper!
Yes myself and the collective group of fans around me may have mocked you for your ability to run, and run, and run. And yes you may not have had an end product most of the time. And finally, yes we may have nicknamed you Forrest (after Forrest Gump), and still do. But Jesper, what a day that was for you, and us.
The atmosphere was electric, Champions' League football had only been experienced once in our history, just 3 years earlier. We had gotten the taste, and wanted it back. This was the day that would give us it back, and the fans were on their finest form. Still to this day I don't think I have experience a louder atmosphere in my time at the Bridge - obviously with our later success came expectation, and with expectation comes the groans and murmurs of the impatient.
Back to the game, it was a crazy first 26 minutes, with Sami Hyppia powering Liverpool into the lead, and for two minutes silencing the home faithful. I still to this day remember the dejectedness that Hyppia header left within me.
Thankfully it was short lived. Desailly, set up from a peach of cross from Gronkjaer, nodded in past Dudek.
Just thirteen minutes later Gronkjaer took matters into his own hands and curled in a beauty, and they say the rest is history.
The BBC's summary of the game, a £20m match if only they knew!
Manchester United - 29th April 2006
Twice, and still nice...
©AP via Daily Mail
Disturbingly this game was now 5 years ago, it seems incredible that such an age has passed since we did the back-to-back doubles.
It may seem glory hunting to include an Abramovich era team in my favourite games of all time, but this squad (manager included) is undoubtedly the best in the clubs' history. Just as Liverpool would've been saying in the 1980s, fortunately they have had the opportunity to really savour their history. Luckily for us we seem to be maintaining our status as a current side.
Plus those that may disagree, and state that the Bolton match the previous season was the better of the League winning games, I wasn't there unfortunately. I wanted to write on my five favourite games I have attended.
I have talked a lot about how I felt during these games, the one that remains with me during this is that I do not think you will ever beat that feeling of the seeing you win the league for the first time.
But to win it back-to-back and against the team who are your biggest challengers, and in such style, plus attending with your brother and father. There is little in life to compete with that feeling!
We went into the game just needing a point - and on the back of a disappointing FA Cup Semi defeat to Liverpool, at this time the harbinger of Chelsea's cup woes.
A fifth minute goal from Gallas, a superb second from Joe Cole and a cracker of a third from Carvalho made sure of the points, and the title. Thankfully this time I got to see the win in person.
BBC Report on the victory that sealed our second Premier League title...
Wigan - 9th May 2010
Thrice is also nice...
A strange season, and one that I reported on for the majority of through this blog.
It would be remiss to leave out this game as one of the best I have been to, after all how many times have we seen Chelsea score 8 in a game? I wouldn't be surprised if this was my first and my last experience of celebrating 8 goals in the space of 90 minutes.
I introduced this game as part of a strange season, mainly because we were simply the best of a bad bunch. Much in the same way that Man United were last season. There were times that we weren't at our best, but still put together some incredible performances and were the best of a good bunch too.
In three other home games we had notched 7 goals, so to go better by one was an incredible feat, and also was a great achievement for our boss Ancelotti in his first season. Sadly of course Carlo has gone the same way as most of the previous managers in charge of the games I have previously mentioned here (aside from Hoddle who left to take charge of England).
Similarly to the Man United game in 2006 you just couldn't replicate that feeling that the 2005 League win brought, but to win it in such style was fantastic. Also to realise that you weren't just two hit wonders was a nice realisation.
In the past 7 years we have had several monetary based spouting aimed in our direction, however as I have always said - you cannot buy a team spirit and a winning mentality. Ancelotti was a great personality, and a nice man, so it was nice that he managed to get the double as part of his haul in his tenure.
If you have made it this far... Wow.
Now on to the game. It was a nerve wracking one, we were in control of our destiny - it was a simple matter of win and win the league. Naturally if it came down to it Wigan at home would always be a great choice of game if three points were required, though nobody would expect anything so comprehensive.
Nerves always set in where there is something at risk, in this case the league. However it took Anelka six minutes to calm those nerves, and what came next was incredible. Lampard with a penalty to make it 2-0, and sadly arguing with Drogba because Didier wanted to take the penalty and subsequently take home the Golden boot!
Kalou made it three, Anelka got a fourth. Finally Drogba got the fifth, to become joint highest scorer in the league. The sixth, a Drogba penalty, ensured he got the boot and the seventh on 80 minutes completed his hat-trick. Ashley Cole scored the 8th to complete the romp, and cap a great season for him as well as giving him his first title with the blues.
This is what the Scottish rags thought of it!
Happy days. All of them. Long may they continue!
Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!!!
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