Dynamo Kiev 0 Chelsea 5.
I was one of the very last supporters to leave the entire stadium. I had gone down to take some shots of the empty bowl from the bottom of our section. It was still a mild night. I slowly walked to the top of the away section, and I was the very last Chelsea fan to leave. As I walked out of the gates, around fifty police walked with me, their employment for the night over.
That’s what I call a police escort.
I bought a cheap Dynamo fridge magnet from a cheery local woman out on the main approach. I was certainly surprised how relatively empty the streets were. Certainly all other Chelsea had disappeared into the night.
It did not take long for the three of us to hail a cab and head back towards Independence Square.
In the last match report, the home game with the Wanderers of Wolverhampton, I had mentioned “Sliding Doors” which had begun with a scene or two at the old Fulham Broadway tube station.
The cab driver asked for our destination.
I remembered that I had slipped a map of Kiev, picked up at the Chelsea ticket collection point, into my back pocket. I retrieved it and pointed to Independence Square.
This was the local name. We sped through the city and were deposited right outside our apartment. It was only a five-minute drive. As soon as we set foot on the pavement, a couple of Hungarian Chelsea fans walked past us and, soon realising that we were Chelsea, and from England, told us that they were headed to a pub called “O’Briens.” I had remembered this pub from a chat that I had had with our main client in Ukraine who, at one stage, was keen to meet up with us on our stay. Keen to visit as many bars as possible during our stay, we followed them up the hill. It was only a five-minute walk. The pub was surprisingly quiet. I am not a huge fan of Irish pubs – apart from in Ireland – but this one was passable. The barman spoke great English and we enjoyed a relaxing hour or so.
The Hungarian fans, from the lovely city of Budapest – this season’s Europa League adventure keeps looping back on itself – were good company. Two lads, two girls, though not couples. Just in Kiev for the Chelsea. They were just amazed how cheap everything was in Kiev. I told them how much we had enjoyed their city in December. Also in the pub, quite randomly, were two Slavia Prague fans, this time a couple, and the bloke laughed about how he wanted to visit London in the next round, but his girlfriend was not keen on the idea. There was a little banter between the people from Prague and Budapest – local histories, rivalries – and the three of us from Somerset and Wiltshire just sat back, bemused.
To read Chris' full trip and match account from they Europa away leg in Kyiv, click here.
Chris Axon is a UK lifelong Chelsea supporter and long-time honorary member of Chelsea in America.