Just after the second half had kicked off on Saturday against Everton, and shortly before Drogba had scored his second of the game, a Chelsea supporter sitting 15 or so seats to my right in the Matthew Harding Lower piped up.
“Drogba you f*king c*nt, get onside”, were his wisely chosen words.
It didn’t get any better from there. “Drogba, you lazy w*nker”. He continued from there, abusing Chelsea players not meeting whatever arbitrary high standards he had set for the team. I can only assume he didn’t cheer Drogba’s goal.
Watching games, there are always fans making comments you don’t agree with. Likewise there is regularly someone who goes too far or is too critical of the players he or she is supposed to be supporting. I have no doubt that these characters exist at every football stadium across the country and, truth be told, you’re better just ignoring them.
Unlike during the dark days of Scolari early this year, there was no real cause for Chelsea fans to be booing the team following the unfortunate draw with Everton at the weekend. But, witnessing it first hand, I can assure everyone that it was a very small minority of fans who chose to voice their displeasure in that way. There was certainly no-one near me booing. If there was booing, it was very quiet indeed to the point where it is misrepresentative to suggest the players were booed off the pitch.
The media have picked up on it, and have been encouraged by Petr Cech’s expressions of surprise to hear booing. Now that it’s been blown out of all proportion, Ian Wright has chosen to take the opportunity to make a vicious, totally unwarranted and targeted attack on Chelsea fans in a double page article in The Sun.
“When my son Shaun played for Chelsea”, he starts, neatly forgetting that his son caused plenty of real frustration in the stands as he time and again spurned opportunities to put in a half-decent performance for the Blues, “I would go to Stamford Bridge regularly. After a while, I stopped. The amount of moaning and complaining coming from certain sections of the stands was unbelievable. I'd never heard anything like it.”
You’ve never heard anything like it, Ian? Really? In all your years of playing and watching football, you’ve never heard fans complaining about their own players? I don’t believe you (even if you did play half your games at Highbury, where in all likelihood you’d hear nothing at all). He continues: “My seat was near the players who were not involved. Just in front of us, there was one bloke who, win or lose, did not stop complaining. He was never happy, even with a convincing home win.”
As I said, there is always one person near you shouting nonsensical abuse. But the critical thing here is that Wright is talking about his experience of one person being unreasonable, not the 40-odd thousand people crammed into Stamford Bridge.
From this point however, Wright’s article become more unwarranted and even less considered. “Those fans who jeered are an absolute disgrace” – well, that’s debateable, but the next bit is outrageous. “They (the fans) might have plenty of money but, in football terms, they have no class whatsoever.” Such a sweeping and unfair judgement. Yes, Chelsea has more than its fair share of more wealthy supporters and has done for decades, but those fans aren’t close to being the majority. I have had season tickets in two separate parts of the Matthew Harding end and sat alongside a range of brilliant football fans from all walks of life: barmen to bankers; locksmiths to chefs; and removal men to PR consultants.
To suggest that ‘many of’ Chelsea’s fans “saunter into hospitality areas in expensive suits and fancy shoes” is to ignore what really happens each week, and to suggest that fans of the club “have either forgotten where the club has come from or have no idea about Chelsea’s problems down the years” suggests that he simply has an anti-Chelsea agenda. Is he still feeling bitter that Shaun didn’t make it at Chelsea? Or perhaps it’s because of the years he spent at Arsenal?
Yes, we all get frustrated by fair-weather fans who can’t – or won’t – put things into perspective, and I did think booing on Saturday was harsh. But then again – and the point has been made brilliantly over on the Chelsea Daft blog – let’s not forget that paying fans are entitled to express dissatisfaction or frustration. Contrary to Wright’s assertion that fans who criticise their team are unintelligent (am I unintelligent because I’ve criticised Ancelotti at times this season?), it is certainly unintelligent to blindly put faith in your team, regardless of performance.
When Wright concludes that Chelsea fans “should learn a few lessons from the fans up at Liverpool”, it is clear that it isn’t Chelsea fans who are classless, just Wright’s blinkered article. Disappointing. I wonder if Ian wrote an article about what a disgrace it was for Arsenal fans to leave the Emirates half an hour early when Chelsea and United played them last spring? I doubt it.
Ian, if you want to criticise Chelsea, condemn our youth policy or our footballing ethos - we can debate that. But lay off the fans with your mindless drivel.
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