Tales From A Lilywhite Christmas Present

December 25, 2019

 

Another great contribution from Chris Axon, life long CFC supporter and long time honorary CIA member, as he blogs every Chelsea match.  You'll usually find some great pub tips too!

 

Here's a sample... to read Chris' entire account, click on the link at the bottom.

 

Leading up to my planning for this game, I remembered a pub crawl that I had sorted for the lads for our home game with Manchester City last season; it was centered on Whitehall. Sadly, I was too ill to attend, so the pub crawl never happened. Bearing in mind that we won – against all odds – that day, the superstitious part of me decided to have another stab at it.

 

So, from 12.30pm to around 2.45pm, PD and I visited “The Clarence”, “The Old Shades”, “The Silver Cross” and “Walkers of Whitehall”, all of which are within one hundred yards of each other. It was a lovely and relaxing time, away from the madness of Liverpool Street.

 

We toasted absent friends – not just Parky, there were friends that had missed out on tickets for this, the most sought-after away game in years and years – and chatted about European games past, European games present and European games future.

One thing struck me.

 

“Still not seen any Tottenham fans, nor Chelsea fans for that matter.”

 

London would be full of 61,000 match-goers, but we had seen not one of them the entire day, or at least nobody sporting club favours, more to the point.

As we walked from one glorious boozer to the next, pub two to pub three – a full six yards – PD moaned.

 

“I do wish you wouldn’t make me walk so far between pubs, Chris.”

 

Our drinking over – I was mixing my drinks, lagers and cokes, the designated driver – we moved on. We walked to Charing Cross station and then caught the Northern Line to Tottenham Court Road. From there, the Central Line to Liverpool Street.

 

“Still no Tottenham. Still no Chelsea.”

 

At Liverpool Street, up on the concourse, I looked around and saw a familiar face.

 

Les from Melksham, but no club colours of course.

 

We hopped onto the 3.30pm train with only a few seconds to spare.

 

Perfect timing.

 

On the train – at last a few Tottenham scarves – we sat with Les and some Chelsea mates, no colours. We ran through the team.

“Three at the back, then.”

 

“Alonso.”

 

“Mason.”

 

This train seemed to take forever.

 

At just before 4pm, it slowed and we pulled into White Hart Lane station, which – in order to cope with an extra 25,000 match-goers every fortnight – had undergone a fine upgrade.

 

In the distance, high above the shop fronts on the High Road, a first glimpse of the steel and glass of their new gaff.

 

We approached the stadium, time moving on now, ten past four, but realised that there was no noticeable signage for away fans. We were shooed north, through a supermarket car park – ambush anyone? – and out on to Northumberland Park. Another glimpse of the outer shell of the stadium, and then the approach to the away section. But here, it seemed that the planners had realised way too late that the away turnstiles were several feet higher than pavement level, resulting in some short steep steps being required to lift fans the final few yards.

 

An odd arrangement. I have no doubt that the Tottenham stadium is better than the Arsenal one, but it certainly seems cramped. There is not the space nor sense of space that you encounter at The Emirates.

 

Amid all of this rush to get in, I needed to collect tickets for future games.

 

Twenty past four.

 

Thankfully, I spotted one friend – “three for Southampton” – right at the top of the steps from the pavement.

 

Perfect.

 

I spotted lines of stewards all lined up, patting people down, and with tables for bag searches too. I had no time for that. I gazed into the distance, avoided eye-contact and shimmied past about eight stewards, with body swerves that JPR Williams would have been proud. Not one single search. Get in. I flashed my ticket against the sensor and I was inside.

 

The first person that I saw in our cramped concourse was the other friend – “Brighton away” – and I was sorted.

 

A double dose of “perfect.”

 

Twenty-five minutes past four.

 

Chelsea were banging on the metallic panels of the concourse, kicking up a mighty fine racket. I needed to use the little boys’ room. Rush, rush, rush.

Phew.

 

As I entered the seating bowl, I saw the Chelsea players break from the line-up and race over to us.

 

Chelsea in all blue. Love those red, white and blue socks.

 

We had made it.

 

Two minutes to go.

 

Perfect.

 

More positivity.

 

Initial thoughts about the stadium?

 

Impressive.

 

They have obviously learned from Arsenal’s mistakes (seats too far from the pitch, a shallow rake in the lower tier, corporate tiers that get in the way of a continuous wall of noise) and – bloody hell – that single tier at the South End reaches high into the sky. It is very impressive.

(A note to the fools who still blather on about a similar single tiered Shed End at a revamped Stamford Bridge – where are we going to get the room to do that, then?)

 

I really do not know why the place isn’t still called White Hart Lane though. If anything, the new stadium is nearer the street by the same name by a good fifty yards.

 

Naming rights, I guess.

 

I Hate Modern Football Part 519.

 

Everyone – apart from Parky – was in, and the 3,000 away fans in our section around the north-east corner flag seemed more.

 

We were ready.

 

But first, a moment to remember a hero from 1966, Martin Peters, who sadly passed away the previous day. I am not old enough to remember Peters as a West Ham player, but I certainly remember him as a Tottenham player alongside Chivers, Gilzean, England, Jennings and all. He is a strong link to my childhood, so he is another one will who be sadly missed.

 

There was warm applause from both sets of fans.

 

RIP.

 

The game began, and how.


To read Chris' account from start to finish, go HERE.

 

 

 

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