Dear Matthew Harding,

Carol Ann Wood
Monday, 25th October 2016

The Late Mr Matthew Harding,
Blue Heaven

Chelsea 4-0 Man United

Dear Matthew,

Well, the day of commemorating you couldn’t have gone much better, could it! It seemed as if from the moment a new banner honouring you was unfurled, the result was written in the stars.

I don’t know if you have a lot of influence in Blue Heaven, Matthew, but I’d like to think that you empowered Pedro to score that first goal at your end of the ground, without Man U having touched the ball. I can hear you chuckling, actually. It’s a nice thought anyway.

The fixture list threw this one up in uncanny ways all round. You always loved this fixture, but it was made even more poignant by the fact of José being in the away dugout now. Oh, you would have loved José, although I think you might have clashed at times. But you’d never have fallen out completely. I’m happy to say, though, that once the match kicked off – and I know I speak for others too – I almost forgot that he was there. That’s not to disrespect him and what he did for our club. But the day was about you and your family. The current Chelsea boys, most of whom you never got to know, were pumped to the hilt. How you would have loved the way the game panned out.

Of course, you knew JT, albeit he was just a lad back then. And Jody, currently doing so well in his role with the youth team. It’s a shame in one way that JT didn’t play, because he would have wanted to honour you. But you can be sure that he did his job as club captain in telling the younger players exactly how much you meant to the club and the supporters. His programme notes spoke volumes.

It was a very emotional day for all of us. I will never forget the morning after the Bolton match, when the news came through on the radio about the crash. Then a little afterwards, confirmation of who was on board the helicopter. I sat in our comfy chair and bawled my eyes out. And I thought of your sister. She lived near to us in Downham Market, and your niece Maddie was in the class in which I worked as a classroom assistant. I wrote your sister a poem, to express my sadness. She came round a few days later and thanked me. I’ve always been glad that I was able to do that one small thing, as she said it did bring comfort to know how much you were loved by so many. Yesterday, I wrote another poem which I left at the main reception for your children to read. I hope that it reached them and that they enjoyed reading it.

Actually, I don’t know why I am telling you all this because I think you know already. That’s what I said in the poem, that you have been there in some way all along, in the last twenty years. Cheering, celebrating, getting angry and frustrated. But, oh, how you would have loved it all if you could have been with us physically. You started all this, Matthew. Good times were around the corner and you helped bring them our way.

I felt so proud yesterday, walking in to your stand, hearing the parents explain to their children how special the day was, and why. It’s strange to think that a whole generation of supporters never got to see your passion and enthusiasm for our beloved Blues first hand. But this was a perfect day to tell them about it. At the end of the game, I could just imagine you running to hug Mr Conte, the two of you grinning manically, you telling him the drinks were on you. You might have been vice-chairman but you were always a supporter first and foremost.

It wasn’t just yesterday that I have thought about you. It’s every time we play. Big games, smaller games, friendlies, Always, there is a thought for you and I wonder what you’d say about each particular game. All the players you never got to watch for us, they would have loved you too. Didier Drogba and Frankie Lampard in particular.

Well, we don’t know what’s going to happen next, Matthew, at this crazy club of ours. Football is still as unpredictable as ever, and the premier league gets tougher every season, it seems. But whatever it does bring, we will keep on singing and shouting, because that’s what you would tell us to do. You, and others like you who left us before the golden years. Your spirit is safe with us.

Much Love,
Carol Ann Wood

PS Please give my love to Ossie and all the other players and supporters you might see

PPS If you happen to bump into Billy Bremner, tell him I said boo 🙂

Index of Posts:

My bespoke poetry service, Diverse Verse
About the author
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Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Only in Erinsborough Carol Ann’s fun look at the lives and loves of the characters from the Australian soapNeighbours

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