An (Extra)ordinary Boy

Chelsea 4 – 1 Cardiff City

A match in which Eden Hazard scored a superb hat-trick, I filmed a penalty for only the second time in my 48 years of support, and Cardiff City players continually sustained mysterious injuries every time a man in blue exhaled near them.

He drives a classic mini,
Like an ordinary guy.
He doesn’t need to flash his cash,
He’s gracious, sweet and shy.

He played the game at breakneck speed
Then went to Eurostar.
But his train had also sped away,
So N’Golo thought ‘Aha!

I’ll go and find a mosque to pray
And give thanks for my joy.’
And in that mosque he made new friends.
Like an ordinary boy.

And while the fans around the land
Were tuned to BBC
With a curry, Lineker and co,
On an ordinary settee,

N’golo did the very same
With the friends that he had met.
A moment they could not have dreamt,
And one they won’t forget.

A flashback to a bygone age
When footballers we knew,
Mixed with the fans who watched them play,
In a street and a house, near you.

It happened with no forward plan,
Like a pure, refreshing story.
There was no aim for instant fame,
No quest for Insta glory.

But just a tale to warm the heart,
No boasts, no gloats, no ploy.
The day N’Golo showed us
He’s an ordinary boy.

© Carol Ann Wood
September 2018

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Mummy’s Precious Prat

Newcastle United 1 – 2 Chelsea

Sunday, 26 August 2018
A game I wasn’t able to attend; one in which David Luiz made an error, leading to a Newcastle equaliser, and for which he received vitriolic and unwarranted abuse from a small section of our ‘supporters’, including one man who regularly makes himself look like a prat on Twitter, and has a following of like-minded prats.

Everything must be perfect,
In your perfect, keyboard life.
Your club must not offend you,
Nor cause you grief and strife.

You are an angry, raging man
And you have to let it out.
I can see you as a toddler now,
As you rant and scream and shout.

I can see you as a schoolboy,
When you didn’t get your way.
I see you in the playground,
As you bullied through your day.

I see you in the classroom,
Blaming others on the sly.
And I bet your teachers saw the man
And it probably made them cry.

Some kids you just can’t straighten out
And their anger keeps on growing.
You were that boy, there is no doubt,
Your venom’s sadly showing.

It’s one thing to debate a game,
To call out our defenders.
But do you have to bawl and gob
Like a Mitchell in Eastenders?

Do you really hate on someone
That you’ve probably never met?
Your narcissistic videos
Make you feel so big, I bet.

But really, all you are is small,
And sad and oh-so bitter.
Try being a real man little boy,
Mummy’s Precious Prat of Twitter.

© Carol Ann Wood

World Cup Fever

(No pressure, mate)

There’s hope and aspiration,
The nerves are getting fraught.
The England flags are hung up high
And the barbie food is bought.
Deliveroo will make a mint
As riders can’t keep up.
And takeaways are in demand –
They love a World Cup.

The glory and the hoping,
The dreams we’ve had for years
Alas post 1966
Have ended up in tears.
Will this be different, headlines cry,
Will lions roar once again?
Or will the knockout stages
Just bring sadness, grief and pain?

Well, over at the BBC
On Radio Cambridgeshire
There is an unsung hero
That the land will soon admire.
Our destiny depends on one
That we call Andy Lake.
He’ll come up trumps, we’re confident
For all of England’s sake!

Don’t worry Andy lad, don’t fret,
No pressure is required.
You’re the quintessential Englishman,
A trait to be admired.
So when Kane holds that cup aloft
And the land turns crazed and shaky,
Our county will shout loud and proud:
You can put it down to Lakey!

© Carol Ann Wood
June 2018


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Don’t Be A Wannabeeeeeee

I’m going to write about something that I have put off for most of the 2017-18 football season. It’s not about the club’s hierarchy, or the largely disappointing results. Others have blogged about this throughout the campaign and have analysed it much better than I could. The season is over. The club is in a confused state (or at least, the supporters are) but we won a trophy and it’s something that eluded Tottenham. Again. So it wasn’t all bad!

Last season, some of my favourite football moments came outside of watching the games. I’m by no means the only supporter to have met their favourite footballer, to get to know him and his family a little, and to enjoy socialising with them. (All, I might add, by invitation, not by being pushy.) Maybe not everyone gets invited to their favourite footballer’s birthday party though, and I admit that it was a delightful surprise to me when I was invited to David’s birthday bash in April.

I had already been on the receiving end of sarcastic, bitter, and sometimes downright nasty comments after socialising with David’s family. Some comments were posted directly to me on social media underneath the photos I’d shared. Other remarks got back to me via friends. After I’d attended the birthday party, the meltdown started big time. Some of it is to be expected. David has many fans world wide, not least because of his charming and infectious personality, and the way that he engages with everyone he meets. Plenty of these worldwide fans can only ever dream of meeting him. Therefore, I fully anticipated the flood of messages asking me ‘can you please tell David I love him’ and ‘how can I get to meet him’ etc etc. Some of these fans are very young. I wanted to marry Peter Bonetti. But I was only twelve and you know, you grow up.

What I hadn’t bargained for was the bitterness and jealousy of some adults old enough to know better. A few of them have also had photographs taken with players, David included. But a section of them were put out that I should be invited to a private party when surely, they believed, they were more entitled. I was sent a childish rant by one fan who was incensed that I was at the party. He had been to PSG to see David during his time there, he said. And because I hadn’t done so, he declared himself more worthy of an invite. And, I was told, he had been a fan of the player for longer than me. Really? Why is that important anyway? Besides which, I was a massive fan of David in his first spell at Chelsea, but I had a great deal going on in my personal life during that time. Such as working, studying for a full time Master’s Degree, and undergoing a major abdominal operation. All of this necessitated me missing some matches. I was also in a great deal of pain prior to the operation, so I couldn’t hang around to ‘catch a glimpse of David’ after the games I did manage to attend.

In addition to the negative comments, I’ve experienced copy-cat behaviour. The copy cats have wrongly assumed that if they try to write, dress and behave identically to me, they’ll get noticed. Another person who attended David’s party has also been on the receiving end of it. It’s called trying too hard. It’s called attention-seeking. It’s called being needy. It’s called not having a personality of your own. We are all inspired by other people, other things, but simply emulating someone else’s life and posting photos of it on Instagram, that’s a little desperate, no? Exaggerating your experiences, and even lying about things to make others jealous, surely points towards undiagnosed mental health issues. I’m no expert, but I think it’s fair to say some people use social media as an emotional crutch. Maybe they are unable to seek appropriate help, or simply don’t recognise that they have a problem. I am sorry for people in such positions, but I’m not going to let them bully me. Just because they have had bad experiences – and they’re not alone – does not give them the right to use and abuse others.

I am an open person. I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not. I just don’t follow the crowd, and I never have. Because of this, I tend to stick out a bit, especially for the way I dress. But I have always believed everyone should be as creative as they like, and not conform to socially constructed narratives. In other words, if it isn’t hurting anyone else, then it’s largely okay. And I would hope that my presence on social media is a true and fair representation of my actual life. I do silly things, I have hair-brained moments, and I share them. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, just different.

Many of the Instagram accounts belonging to wannabes only display perfect photos and status updates. Look at me, look at me, they scream, I want attention. If they have no perfect things happening, they sometimes exaggerate or invent them in order to get that attention. Often with a cryptic post. If they’re ignored, they’ll try again. And so-on. A friend remarked the other day on how, if she doesn’t immediately respond to a follower’s 1-1 message, they will send another message with a row of question marks. How dare she have a life outside social media!

None of these negative experiences, however, have put me off doing what I enjoy, nor will they stop me from being myself. That’s not to say that it doesn’t hurt, but I’ve been through much worse. I have nothing to feel bad or guilty about. I am happy for other supporters if they meet their favourite players, and if they go to organised events where they get a chance to socialise with them, that’s great. But I am not up for competition, jealousy, spitefulness or lies. That’s for the wannabes to fight about amongst themselves. Include me out.

© Carol Ann Wood
June 2018


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Ray’s Chelsea Story

When the skies of West London were stormy and grey,
And our hearts sank a little with each passing day,
When we feared that our club would no longer be there,
And fans left the Bridge in a glut of despair,
Our man, Eddie Mac put his faith in the young,
And soon a new superstar’s name would be sung.

As kid became captain, and boy became man,
Then fast turned to hero for many a fan,
He led our Blue Army with passion and pride,
He played with great skill as he skippered our side.
And all the girls swooned as they chanted his name,
We were Butch Wilkins’ Babes when we watched every game.

A gentleman, good guy, the nicest you’d find,
Polite and articulate, one of a kind.
He made many friends in his great long career,
And three times returned to the club he loved dear,
To coach and to nurture, to give us more joy.
To encourage the skills that he’d learnt as a boy.

It’s hard to imagine we won’t see his face
Around, on a match day, in his favourite place.
And yet he’ll be with us in every fan’s eyes,
In the grass, in the stands, in the Chelsea-blue skies.
For Butch was a legend we’ll never forget,
And we’ll pass on his story to fans not born yet.

Today as I honour this heart throb of mine,
At the club I’ve supported since I was just nine,
I’ll be fifteen again and his image I’ll spy
With some memories fond and a tear in my eye.
You brought us some good times and, Butch, we’re so proud.
Lots of love, rest in peace,
From your very own crowd.

© Carol Ann Wood
April 2018


Links:
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About the author
Contact the author, or follow this blog
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NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
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I was a Butch Wilkins Babe

When the untimely death of Ray Wilkins was announced I, like many other supporters, was instantly transported back to my youth. We mourn the loss of all Chelsea greats, but Ray’s playing time at Chelsea is reminiscent of a remarkable and turbulent time in the club’s history. It’s hard to put into words what I feel about that era, but I’m going to try.

I was one of the incoming supporters of 1970. April 11th that year marked the formal announcement to my family that I was a Blue. My parents laughed, thinking that I’d forget about Chelsea after a week or so. Little did they know that they’d given birth to a die-hard. And, pretty soon, I was going to learn, in the harshest possible way, about what what being a football supporter really meant. 

My first heroes were Peter Bonetti, Peter Osgood and the rest of the great team that won that FA Cup, following up with the Cup Winner’s Cup in 1971. It was pretty good being Chelsea then. I’d rope my school friends into playtime imaginary match scenarios where we’d thrash Leeds, Gary Sprake letting in about ten goals, and Billy Bremner being sent off. But then Chelsea slid into decline on the pitch and into financial crisis off it. My support never wavered, though. The club had captured my heart and, despite their relegation and near-liquidation, I ignored the taunts from supporters of other teams. Chelsea was for life.

Then, out of the turbulence, came the fresh young kids under the guidance of manager and former player Eddie McCreadie. Ray ‘Butch’ Wilkins was centre stage. Captain at 18, he showed remarkable maturity as well as an abundance of talent. What was different for me, was that I was now a teenager. You know, hormones and all that. Ray was a pin-up, my first heart-throb. Like countless other young Chelsea girls, I swooned over him with his dark, soulful eyes and his trendy clothes. 

My favourite girls’ magazines would regularly feature a poster of Ray. But I wasn’t content with just one on my bedroom wall; I would swap sweets with my friends in exchange for their duplicate posters. Mostly, these friends weren’t into football, so the arrangement worked very well. Nowadays, I suppose, I might have been described as a wag wannabe. Except, it wasn’t quite like that back then. I was fifteen, but didn’t have access to the type of makeovers that fifteen year olds have today. I had no clue how to apply make up, and I had spots which I covered with orange-tinted Clearasil. I sported a boyish haircut that definitely didn’t make me look chic. I was also a realist, knowing that I didn’t have a hope in hell of marrying Butch Wilkins, but I could still adore him. 

Carol Bedroom copy

Back in the mid-seventies, there was little chance of post-match photographs with players – film was expensive, and we didn’t bring cameras to every game. I was, however, often to be found pitch-side with my autograph book, there being no replica shirts to get signed. And players rarely gave their own shirts away. One shirt had to last, rather than having two per game as is the norm now. The club was on its knees financially – even the subs bench didn’t have a roof. Young supporters are always incredulous when I recount how substitutes sat huddled in sleeping bags when it rained.

I expressed my own adoration of Butch with a homemade badge displaying his photo, and a satin scarf proclaiming ‘I’m A Butch Wilkins Babe’. The scarf was bought from the temporary club shop, which was actually a caravan, accessible by only five supporters at a time. But, oh, the inventiveness of the memorabilia back then! So much better than the bland, unimaginative, over priced tat of today’s Megastore. 

My excitement knew no bounds, when my dad promised to take me to Chelsea’s Mitcham training ground during the Easter school holidays in 1976. I bored my friends silly with the talk of meeting Ray properly, and yes, getting a photo. I had a Chelsea pen friend by then. A girl of around my age, whom I got to know via Fab 208 magazine. (Sally Harlow, from Witham, Essex, if you’re out there, I mean you!) I told Sally that we were going to Mitcham, and she arranged to meet us there with two of her friends.

Of course, meeting Ray was as wonderful as we’d imagined, and even my mother developed a middle-aged crush on him, because he was so articulate and charming. Footballers didn’t always have a great reputation, but he was a model professional. I even took my cassette recorder to the training ground, and taped snatches of the conversation that we had with Ray, and his brothers, Graham and Steve, as they returned to Graham’s car – a Cortina, I think. How I wish I still had that tape.

I do still have the treasured photo of me and Ray. It’s a bit blurry because my dad wasn’t a great photographer and basic cameras weren’t very sophisticated. Oceans of water have passed under Stamford Bridge since then, of course. It broke my teenage heart when Ray was transferred to Manchester United, but I tried to understand, because the club was in a precarious position and we had to sell our best assets. Little did I know then that we would see him return three times in a coaching role, the favourite period of which has to be as assistant to Ancelotti.

Carol & Ray Wilkins

Ray had his demons and his tough times, but I’m not going to dwell on that. I didn’t always agree with his match analysis of late, but it doesn’t mean that I didn’t respect his opinions. He was honest and spoke eloquently. Moreover, he always spoke as one of us, a supporter who loved the club as we do. Even when you have a shared passion and ultimately desire the same outcome, you won’t agree on every point.

My ‘I’m A Butch Wilkins Babe’ scarf will be taken for its final outing at the Bridge on Sunday when we pay tribute to Ray. I noticed one in the Chelsea museum recently, and remarked on the fact that it was in such pristine condition compared to mine. Mine is much-faded, because it was clutched, waved, and cried on a lot during Ray’s Chelsea career. But memories don’t fade. This weekend, I will be fifteen again in my heart, and I will wave that scarf, on which tears will once more fall.

RIP Raymond Colin Wilkins

© Carol Ann Wood April 2018


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That Day Will Never Come

When the bars of Liquidator fail to move me,
When I care not for the pride that stirs the soul,
If I speak not of the future or the old days,
If my life without them wouldn’t leave a hole,
Then I’ll know it’s time to stop supporting Chelsea.
If that day should come, then yes, I’ll let you know.
But that day is never, ever going to happen.
Till my dying day I’ll always want to go.
For whatever all the troubles that befall them.
Then as long as I can move, I’ll give my heart.
Different players, different owners, different coaches.
But the club I love and I will never part.
If the chanting and singing should get boring,
If I cannot take defeat and then move on,
If I never wake with great anticipation,
Then I know that is the time that I’ll be gone.
If my heart no longer sings at Fulham Broadway,
If away trips do not give me nervous chills,
If I care not for the passion and for friendships,
If I don’t enjoy the the frequent thrills and spills,
Then I’ll know it’s time to stop supporting Chelsea.
Yet that day will never come, I know it’s true.
In the good times, in the bad and in between times,
I remain for all my life a Chelsea blue.

© Carol Ann Wood
February 2018


Links:
My bespoke poetry service, Diverse Verse
About the author
Contact the author, or follow this blog
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


Index of Posts:


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