Another great accounting by honorary CIA member Chris Axon post Liverpool... and a great pub crawl list too!
Chelsea vs. Liverpool : 29 September 2018.
So, this was it. The big test. The much-anticipated visit of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, with their six league victories out of six. On the train journey up to London, we all spoke about how excited, and yet nervous, we were ahead of the game at 5.30pm. We chatted briefly about our come-from-behind win against the same opposition at Anfield three days previously. We knew we had ridden our luck a little. But that game highlighted two things to me.
One – we are a vastly different team when Eden Hazard plays. He makes us tick.
Two – our support should never be maligned again. Although I did not attend the game on Wednesday, I was absolutely elated to see that we had taken around five thousand up to Liverpool. And it seemed to me that the younger element of our support – for a while, it seemed we had missed out on a generation – made up a large proportion of those travelling. Maybe those that cannot always get tickets for Anfield in the league decided to travel up on a weekday evening, not always the easiest of logistical operations. Top marks to everyone who travelled. You made me proud.
In the first of the six pubs that we visited before the match, I admitted to Andy from Kent that I was actually enjoying the nervousness of the game with Liverpool.
“To be honest, we have enjoyed so much success over the recent ten years or more, that sometimes we take it for granted, all of this, game after game, especially at the Bridge, regardless of the opposition. But because they – Liverpool – have started so well this season, and because we know what they can do to teams, I’m nervous, but I’m enjoying that emotion. It feels good.”
I had meticulously planned another pub crawl a few weeks back, and I had fastidiously reviewed my plans. We were all relishing another Chuckle Bros Pub Crawl.
After a breakfast at Paddington, though, the disruption caused by the closure of the District Line meant that we chose to head down to our designated meeting point by cab. We headed to the most southerly part of Fulham, right where the bend of the Thames is at its flattest, and made it our home for almost five hours.
I have often mused about the geographical reach of “Chelsea pubs” on match days, and in the lead up to the game, I thought again about what constitutes a Chelsea pub and what doesn’t. My very first pub was The Cock back in 1984, and my mind went on a temporal and geographical journey as I remembered previous seasons and previous sessions.
1984 : The Cock, still going strong.
1985 : The George, alas no more, now an Estate Agents at the junction of the North End Road and Fulham Road.
1986 : The Stamford Bridge Arms, aka The Stamford Bridge Arms and then the Cross-Eyed Newt, originally the Rising Sun, and now The Butcher’s Hook.
1987 : The Black Bull, now The Pensioner.
1988 : The Fox And Pheasant and The King’s Arms, now the Broadway Bar & Grill, previously The Slug & Lettuce.
1991 : Finch’s, way up the Fulham Road, long closed.
1992 : The Stargazy, alas no more, on the Fulham Road.
1994 : The Harwood Arms, our old regular, on Walham Grove.
Since then, our boozing has taken us to new territories.
North : The Finborough, The Ifield – now closed, The Pembroke, The Courtfield – now an away pub – The Blackbird, O’Neils – now renamed – and The King’s Head, The Lillie Langtry, The Imperial, The Atlas and The Prince Of Wales.
South : The White Hart, now a Thai restaurant, Brogan’s, The Black Rose, formerly The Britannia, then the So Bar and now a hideous cocktail bar, The Jam Tree, formerly the Nell Gwynne, The Beer Engine, formerly The Wheatsheaf, The Hand And Flower, no more, The Imperial, The Morrison, formerly the Lord Palmerston – closed – The Rose, The Chelsea Ram, The Tommy Tucker, formerly The Pickled Pelican and the White Horse.
East : The Gunter Arms, The World’s End, The Chelsea Potter.
West : The Oyster Rooms, The Fulham Dray – closed – The Barrowboy – closed, The Mitre, The Malt House, formerly the Jolly Maltsters, The Wellington, The Rylston, The Goose, The Elm, The Old Oak, The Seven Stars – closed – The Colton Arms and The Famous Three Kings.
Forty-nine Chelsea pubs, and all bona fide Chelsea pubs too.
On this day, we would be stretching the southern limits. Just off Putney Bridge tube, we first spent a while in the cosy “Eight Bells” which is often used by Chelsea en route to Craven Cottage. We were joined by “the Kent lot” and also Foxy and Drew fae Dundee. We watched as West Ham went 2-0 up against United. Ho ho ho. Next up, “The King’s Arms” – a bit plusher, but actually cheaper rounds – and then the quite unique interior of “The Temperance”, and a few Chelsea were inside. Over the road, we dipped into “The Golden Lion”, where more Chelsea were located, though I doubt if many of the faces on show were off to the game.
As Parky commented “if the devil could cast his net.”
To read the rest of Chris' match account, more pubs included, click here.