How does someone end up supporting a premier league club? If you are in the UK, the choice of whom to support may not be that difficult. You could live in Manchester and support Man City or live in Merseyside and support Everton or your family could be supporting a certain club which you grow up watching and supporting. Mostly, you could start supporting a club even before you can start appreciating football.
For the football fans outside the footballing nations in Europe, there should be a trigger to start supporting a top club from Europe. What could be that trigger? It could be the club’s continued success, your favourite player in a club, a bunch of players from your nationality in the club, the playing style of the team etc. For the people outside of these footballing nations, especially in Asia, sometimes people do need a reason to support a club. This might sound strange for the football fans in England, Spain, Italy, Germany etc. Probably I should first talk a little bit about football in India and then explain you ‘why Chelsea’.
In India, football was almost obscure but for some presence in certain pockets. The nation was/is so cricket-crazy that the fans and media had no time or money for any other sport. It is only after the satellite channels started televising the premier league and la liga matches, the game really caught on in India. When football started featuring in the Indian television channels, it was Man Utd who were ‘the’ team. It was their era of dominance. It’s natural to find a lot of Man Utd fans in India who are in their 20s or 30s and a lot of Liverpool fans in their 30s or 40s.
In non-footballing countries like India, you find a lot of people who follow certain sports when there is an event. When the world cup was there, lot of them would appear to be fan. When Wimbledon was on everyone’s a tennis fan. Once the event is over, they might have no idea of what’s happening in the football world or tennis world. It’s not wrong but that’s the way it’s here. Whichever team is ‘now trending’ tends to gather a lot of fans.
It is only now, I see school children and college kids following and talking football. When I was in school or college, I could not remember even one conversation that was about football. The other big interest-driver in these non-footballing countries is the television coverage. I started watching football only when we got satellite television coverage in India. Still I was not really following football as such.
As an avid gamer, I always loved strategy games. So one day, when I was looking for a new strategy game, I saw this game Championship Manager 4. I was told that it is a fine football management and strategy game. That sounded pretty interesting. More than anything, this game did not need a new video card! It was this game that brought me closer to football. It taught me the concepts, the methods, introduced me to the game’s personalities, the styles, the everything. If I remember right I played as Real Madrid then because they were the most popular and were always on the news.
So then, I started watching the weekend football matches on TV. That was very casual. I didn’t know the teams or the players. I didn’t know about the league structure or the rules. But I enjoyed watching football. In the sports channels in India, they normally would show all matches of Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal. They show the matches of the other teams only if the slots did not clash with that of the top three. So all the games I used to see were of this ‘despicable three’.
Being an internet freak, my new found interest in football trickled into my time on the internet. I started understanding and studying the game with the help of internet. I started reading the news and rumours but my internet back then wasn’t good enough for streaming videos. It was the championship/football manager and the internet sources that helped me with the deeper understanding of the game. So when and why exactly did my connection with Chelsea happen?
Thanks to Jose Mourinho. He was a big thing when he won the champions league with Porto. He was the talk of the town. He was young, he was brash, he was intelligent and he was successful too. He was devilish and he was special. I truly admired him, still admire him. It was because of Jose Mourinho, I started following Chelsea. And then I started supporting Chelsea. I do not know from which moment on, though. I seriously do not know.
You know you’ve become a fan of a team, when you feel upset like hell after a defeat. You know you’ve become a fan of a team, when you get into never-before superstitions for a team to hold on to that lead. You know you’ve become a fan of a team when you defend a team to death, though having different opinions in your mind, which you never bring on to the argument. All these things started happening to me with Chelsea. Without even knowing from when, I had become a thorough Chelsea fan. Very soon, everything about me turned Chelsea. The wallpapers, the passwords, the pillows, the car hangings – everything turned Chelsea. Sometimes, it got a bit too much that it even pissed off folks around me.
I did talk about the need to have a reason to follow a club. The crucial point is, if you’re a real fan, the reason need not continue to exist. I know a lot of people in India who are Liverpool fans who started following them in the 80s when they were very successful and they are still supporting Liverpool thoroughly. For them the success was a reason why they started to follow Liverpool but the disappearance of that reason has not changed their loyalty. Similarly, my reason – Jose Mourinho, left Chelsea. That’s not changed me a bit. Even though Mourinho left, my feelings for Chelsea did not change. I think it’s a bit difficult to express what makes you a fan and why. It’s a form of a love – it’s about how we feel inside – the joy and the pain – that defines our love for our team/club.
Becoming a Chelsea fan in the Roman era takes a lot of gut. That too if you’re not from West London, it’s even tougher. You get laughed at for being a Chelsea fan. You get ridiculed that you became a fan after the money walked in. You are told that you’d be supporting another club once Roman leaves Chelsea. The biggest taunt is about your lack of knowledge about Chelsea’s history. Sometimes, even the Chelsea fans themselves do it to their new fellow-Chelsea fans.
My response to them all: You can go f*** yourselves. I don’t need to explain to anyone. I knew nothing about Indian cricket history but I was a fan of Indian cricket. By the way, I have no idea what my great grandfather was doing for his livelihood and haven’t seen my grandfather even in a photograph.
I know there are millions of Chelsea fans outside of West London who became so after Roman bought the club. There could be a small percentage of people who are fans for the excitement but every club has this kind of fans. But the super majority are real fans that laugh and cry with the fortunes of the club. Almost all of them I know are deeply passionate about the club and invest so much time, money, effort and emotions into Chelsea Football Club.
Why did I start this blog? I love football, I love Chelsea, I love internet and I love writing. Add up all this, you get a chelsea blog. There were/are not too many Chelsea blogs around. I don’t think I’m better at football or writing. But what I think that I bring through this blog, is just my personal views and opinions on the game and on Chelsea. I’m no expert but I’m just one of you. This blog is not meant to be the voice of the fans – this is just the voice of me as a Chelsea fan. BlueChampions Blog has been a great experience for me and I thank you for that!
Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!