Enjoying the moment
The Far East Stand Fri 19 May 2017
Given Chelsea’s form since our FA Cup semi-final victory against Tottenham Hotspur, it could be argued that West Ham United’s surprise win against Spurs two weeks ago did little more than bring forward the date on which the Blues clinched the Premier League title.
However, Chelsea supporters in the Far East had reason to be grateful for that result as it gave us an opportunity to get together to watch the title-deciding match and to have a full weekend to indulge in celebrations afterwards.
Regardless of the early morning kick-off times for the matches against Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion and Watford, most of us would have set our alarm clocks or consumed copious amounts of caffeine to ensure we watched those games live. However, the possibility of gathering with fellow supporters to watch a potential title-decider against Watford at 3am on a Tuesday morning wasn’t great.
West Brom on a Saturday morning wasn’t too bad an idea, however, and after the Blues had seen off Boro to put us at match point in the title race, arrangements were made in Singapore to find a place where we could watch the game and celebrate as long and loudly as we wanted to if we won.
So when my alarm went off at 2.30am that Saturday morning, I donned my lucky shirt, roused my nine-year-old son and set off with him for a nearby community hub where the game was being broadcast on a large LCD screen.
While I would probably have woken him up for the Watford game if it had been the title-decider, the likelihood is that we would have watched it at home and had to stifle our celebrations to avoid annoying our sleeping neighbours.
But in the company of 200 other fellow Chelsea fans watching the broadcast from The Hawthorns, we were much less inhibited and sang and cheered to our hearts’ delight, especially at the moment when Michy Batshuayi poked the ball home eight minutes from time.
I’ve been fortunate in these past 20 years – since that memorable day when we beat Middlesbrough in the FA Cup final to end our long, long wait for silverware – to watch many brilliant title-winning matches for the Blues. Indeed, when I look back on my favourite moments as a Chelsea fan, I still treasure the memories of the 1997 FA Cup win, the Premier League clincher at Bolton in 2005 and, of course, Munich 2012 above everything else we have achieved in the past two decades.
However, the win against West Brom was the first time my son had the opportunity to watch, celebrate and savour in a league success with fellow Chelsea fans and I’m sure the joy of the moment when Batshuayi scored will live long with him.
Hopefully there is much more to come from Antonio Conte and his men, especially with an FA Cup final against Arsenal and a potential double still to play for this season, but for now we should savour the moment and just enjoy the celebrations.
Our struggles last season are a stark reminder that nothing comes easy in football and while there have been suggestions from rival fans, players and even managers that we benefitted from not having to play European football this season, it doesn’t take any of the gloss off what our team has achieved. We are just the sixth team to reach the 90-point mark since the Premier League became 20 teams in 1995/96 and a win against Sunderland on Sunday would make us the first side to win 30 games and the second-highest point gatherers after the Blues of 2004/05, who amassed 95.
We can expect other teams to come back strongly next year and, indeed, the added European games should provide a big test of the fitness, mentality and drive of our squad as we look to become the first team since 2009 to retain the league title.
That, however, is something to worry about for later because right now, the only thing that should really matter to any of us is that WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!