“CHELSEA. Are a bunch of wankers.”
My oldest best mate, from my days growing up in London, Giulio, always used to be very clear about this.
“We’ve got Chelsea. Ah, yeah. Chelsea. Bunch o’ wankers.” I’d nod approvingly. Silently. No words. “Wankers.”
Giulio and I both ended up living in Liverpool, to be closer to our beloved Reds.
We’ve each clocked up about 30 years apiece as neo-Scousers. We’ve had season tickets next to each other for 30 years, too. I think we both saw our first Liverpool game, in the flesh, at Stamford Bridge in 1978. The days of Kenny and Kennedy, of Wilkins and Bonetti.
The Chelsea of today are a very different animal from the Chelsea “wankers” of yesteryear.
A generation of Liverpool fans have grown up disliking Chelsea with the same disdain we older lads did, but for entirely different reasons.
The modern Chelsea — from the detractor’s perspective — are all that’s wrong with the world. Nothing that they stand for, or are, sits right. As movie baddies, in a film about good and evil in football, they couldn’t be better cast.
Roman Abramovich and Jose Mourinho. Like Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham. John Terry. Like a nasty henchman to Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday. The buying of success. The classless hounding of Rafa Benitez. The contrivance of a fan culture. Diego Costa. Taking prizes that were never earned. Living dreams that were never theirs.
The only redemption for them is that Manchester City have come along, and have maybe been even worse.
Just when it seemed impossible to be more gauche, to dope the competition even further, City rocked up.
What the kids of today won’t really be able to imagine is just how ugly Chelsea have always seemed. There’s something quite appalling in the DNA of that club. Well, that’s how it seems from the outside looking in.
OK, I’m sorry nice Chelsea people, that may sound very harsh, but still, maybe some of you don’t know or have forgotten your own history. Come with me.
When I first became aware of them, in the late 1970s, Chelsea were proper no-marks. The biggest thing about them was they had a John Terry-like figure of his day called Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris. Only he wasn’t very good. And that was it.
No cups, no crowd, no stars, just Chopper. He’d “chop ya legs off”, see. That was it. A hooligan on the pitch. A lad who could hurt other players. Legend.
In the stands, to be fair to them, they were quite a vocal crowd away from home. I despised and grudgingly admired their schtick in near equal measure. Their songs were masterpieces of irrelevance.
They would sing “one man went to mow” for an entire half. Then sing their “celery” song. There was a sense of humour there undoubtedly — albeit a very Cockney, “no-one likes us and we don’t give a fuck” sense of humour.
If you ever felt in danger of warming to them, they could always be relied upon to jolt you back to reality with their overarching appallingness. “We’ve got loadsamoney!” they’d snarl at us, waving fake wads of cash, in a crass — not getting it — tribute to Harry Enfield’s 1980s comic creation.
Let’s put this into perspective. It was a period of chronic economic decline in the UK, and the hardships and unemployment levels felt were most acute in the broken Northern post-industrial cities. Ordinary people in places like Liverpool, in particular, were genuinely suffering. We talk of inequality, increasing child poverty and the lack of sufficient living wages today in the UK, but this was different gravy. Liverpool had unemployment levels at around the 20-25 per cent mark, and in places like Liverpool 8 — Toxteth and surrounding areas — you were talking numbers north of 70 per cent.
You would see kids in Liverpool on wastelands making fires. It was post-apocalyptic stuff. Smack heads were on so many street corners, drug addiction was in the air, in the lexicon, in the culture. Don’t get me wrong, it was also a very exciting, vibrant and defiant time in the city, but things were very tough — the last thing anyone deserved was for the piss to be taken.
That was Chelsea, though. “In your Liverpool slums.” “Sign on.” “We’ve got loadsamoney.” That’s not tribal teasing, and God knows our lot were no saints, but it seemed to me, then as now, that resorting to those kind of insults just says everything about those provocateurs.
Then there was the racism. Ask Paul Canoville about that. Paul was a young black kid who came through the Chelsea youth system to the fringe of their first team in the 1980s.
One day he gets his chance. He’s told to start warming up by his manager at his home ground, Stamford Bridge. In front of his own fans. The men and women he dreamed of scoring goals for. They booed him. Berated their own manager for even daring to put a black man on their pitch in their colours. An extremely low point in the history of the football club.
Was it just a despicable minority? Not really. It was lots and lots of people. It took lots of other people to remain silent for it to happen.
Then there was their hooligan problem. Of course there were few total innocents in the British football-following fraternity back then, and I’ll try not to fall foul of blinkered hypocrisy here.
However, the worst men in football in the 1980s were those consistently making following their teams about seeking to inflict physical harm on other supporters. Those weird sociopaths, for whom the scrap became bigger than the game.
Chelsea, Millwall, West Ham. These teams had the nastiest hooligan attachments. We later came to learn that their ‘firms’ were populated by dickheads from all walks of life. Their violence wasn’t a cry for help, an escape from the economic ravages of blighted Britain. Many of these men had good jobs, good cars, nice homes, families. They just needed to hurt some people. For the buzz.
I hated them because they were spoiling something truly brilliant. Football. They were making it look like something that it wasn’t. Above all else, if I’m honest, I simply didn’t like the fact that they weren’t like me. That they weren’t really into the game, into their team. I wondered if they could even name every player in their side. They appeared to not care one iota if their team won or lost on the pitch, other than the context it might provide for the battles with opposing fans.
Once, me and my mate Giulio were out having a pint in a London pub. We must have been about 18. It was a Saturday night and the boozer was full of Chelsea fellas laughing too loudly. Giulio muttered to himself, “Chelsea are a bunch of wankers.” Unfortunately, one of the Chelsea lot hears this. Giulio had a pint in his system and was more audible than he had realised. The Chelsea man enquired: “Did you just call Chelsea a bunch of wankers?” And then time stood still. A lifelong second.
In those tenths of that second, Giulio was preparing a solid defence, of what on the surface might have seemed an unreasonable generalisation.
He wanted to say: “Ah, you see my good fellow, you need not take my quip personally. It was directed at a collective malaise I associate with your football club, but assuredly not with you as an individual. You have agency. You have choice. I respect you. I would not presume that you would taunt Liverpudlians about unemployment, nor berate a young man simply for the colour of his skin, nor be more likely to engage in meaningless violence than the next man, but…”
My mate Giulio never got to make his case. Unfortunately, his inquisitor was all that he might have given him the benefit of the doubt for not being. He was, in fact, exactly the sort of individual to mock the disadvantaged; to judge another man not by the content of his character, and to resort to the physical over the cerebral.
This Chelsea wanker nutted my mate Giulio. Brought his Chelsea wanker forehead sharply and decisively down on Giulio’s head. Giulio fell to the ground. Time was still standing still.
From nowhere the entire pub exploded into an orgy of violence that felt so intuitively choreographed that it was almost funny. The scene, was like when the Gauls and the Romans used to have those wild scraps in Asterix comic books. They were drawn as giant meatball-shaped clouds of dust with limbs and faces protruding from the mire — no-one really sure who was lamping who.
Then, all within these tenths of seconds, me and our mate John, see Giulio crawling out from beneath a mass of humanity. These stupid Chelsea wankers were all just fighting with each other. For no reason I could discern. It was like some pent-up sexual frustration. They just had to have that physical contact. To hit something. To roll around on the floor with anything.
John and I scooped Giulio up and whisked him out of the pub’s side door and out into the London night. We jumped on buses, off for a kebab and into the safety of the city.
Giulio was dazed, confused, pissed but largely unhurt. John and I looked at each other. “I was about to wade in there,” John says. “Yeah, mate,” I say. “Me too.”
Giulio scratched his head and mumbled: “Chelsea ARE a bunch of wankers.” Turns out in that instance he had been right all along…
He was vindicated, and so too will the Reds be this Friday night. I can’t tell you what will transpire, but I do sense that our boys will be bright and bold, as we were last time out at Stamford Bridge. I can tell you that we will brim with confidence and that we will make chances. Let’s make them, let’s take them, let’s keep onwards and upwards. Never, ever, let the wankers win.
The Reds 11 to take down those Chelsea wankers: Karius; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Coutinho, Mane, Firmino.
ODDS: Chelsea 13-10, Draw 13-5, Liverpool 23-10.
LAST MEETING: Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1, May 11, 2o16.
MATCH DETAILS: Kick-off Friday, September 16, 8pm. Live on Sky Sports 1.
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Brilliant. This may be Gutmann’s masterpiece. Wankers indeed. Can’t wait til the Chelsea lot get hold of this.
A mere dot in a despicable Cosmos, I know, but Suggs from Madness – who I personally rate – is/was a lifelong blue.
Proves nowt though.
I was up for the match before this, now I’m even more fired up! Great piece of writing Rob.
I would say someone born and bred in London skipping off to Liverpool(fed by littlewoods pools) to glory hunt as the wanker myself.Never mind supporting the local team through thick and thin,just skip the thin bit! ex qpr fan I’ll bet you are.Incidentally we won a European trophy before you(history)Think about your fans behaviour at football matches and the results before you make snide remarks about other clubs..
“Fed by Littlewoods pools” – there’s that phoney myth again, always trotted out by the bankrolled nouveau riche, to pretend that everyone’s the same as them. For the record, it was Everton whose chairman was Littlewoods owner John Moores, he who bequeathed the city its second university. Liverpool’s later chairman was his far less wealthy nephew David Moores, who rode the team bus to matches, and took the glory earned by others, eventually selling to Hicks and Gillett for a nice fat profit of about £70m. Fed by Littlewoods my arse. Liverpool earned it on the pitch, not via the dodgy appropriation of Russian oil assets. Liverpool’s success was built and grown, not bought.
Thanks for confirming Rob’s piece.
They’re definitely Tory, racist wankers who never deserved the success they were allowed to buy. Although I remember not minding them as a kid because Zola was great and sound.
Think your XI is spot on, Rob. Sturridge coming on with hopefully more more time than he was afforded at Tottenham would be decent. Hopefully we can put all this Simon Mignolet business behind us now as well and pretend he never happened.
Funny article, but just a couple of Chelsea based comments from one who used to go, but retired to the TV.
The social comment on economic deprivation in Liverpool is spot on. I’ve never chanted any of those stupid songs about Liverpool slums, Murderers etc..cant be doing with that.
Tories ?- sadly, but not me
Racists? – horribly so, but not all of us
‘ooligans?, absolutely, but one of our chaps got badly slashed by scousers (LFC) on the Edgaware Rd back when. I believe you have your ‘Urchins’ to this day.
Cockney humour? actually yes, but we’re not cockneys. That’s Milwall and West Ham. Do the geography
Not allowed to have dreams? Really, what’s football for then?
Finally, The glory of Istanbul v The glory of Munich
Two English sides beating better opponents on penalties. And the difference is…
we didn’t deserve it? Really?
Fair comments .
It’s a bit of a sensationalist hack job this isn’t it rob ? I think TAW needs decent editors if it’s ever going to be serious. No match preview just feeding hatred. Many of us have no love for a section of the Chelsea support but peddling subjective stereotypes hardly helps matters. Blessed are the peacemakers eh … Not classy !
Define serious. It’s been going for five years.
The Scum has being going a lot longer than 5 years but i wouldn’t call it serious. The length of time has no bearing on the issue,
Oxford dictionary :
needing to be thought about carefully; not only for pleasure
a serious article
a serious newspaper
It’s time to give serious consideration to this matter.
TAW produces some good stuff but dragging up subjective stereotypes and instilling hatred to an already charged relationship between the fans is hardly positive is it ? and undermines the reputation of our fan base.
I agree with you Aburas. Good shout mate! I’m all for a good rivalry matchup but thought this article is the exact kind of stuff that might incite the negative aspects of fandom.
Let’s please reel in the nonsense about other clubs and have a good look at our own first. All this “we’re the greatest fans” needs to be backed up by some class and lead by example.
Whether Chelsea has won or bought the trophies, I recall they have had some great players who were worth the game time and not all their fans are plastics as we so often baptize them to be.
On the note of singling out Paul Canoville and the racism towards this player, I was wondering if Rob or anyone from TAW or my fellow Reds know about this player: Howard Gayle?
Tough match coming up and I would be more worried about Willian and Hazard, besides Costa whom everyone else seems to be trying to stop. Chelsea are definitely going to bring it without Moureene’s negativity, so Reds and Jurgen better be prepared.
Up the Reds!!!
Oh lighten up for Christ’s sake. This is a football fansite, not The Guardian.
This article is brilliant; well-written and funny. Nice one Rob.
I don’t think we can just pin the economic taunts on Chelsea though. Lots of other fans did it and still do it. I mean, you sort of get the logic why cockneys in the 80s used this as the lowest form of abuse. We were suffering and they had it good and they were keen to rub it in our face. All fans have hit others were it’s hardest. what I’ve never got is the idiot mancs singing these songs, or even worse, teams in the north east, a region decimated by Thatcherism. Go figure that one. And why do teams – chelsea included – still do it ? Again, they have failed to move on and still have some old dinosaurs in their fan base and enough idiots to join in.
Tales of a headhunter
I lived next to a chelsea boy in the 80s in london. The bloke had scrapbooks of the group’s violent adventures around the country and lived purely for the ‘kick off’. He’d call round to ours whilst my mates and I would sit round in a haze of smoke trying to convert him into a more affable pot-head. We only succeeded in turning him into the can lad and he stuck to his strong beer and fervent belief in terrace violence. Weird really as he was an okay lad – not the sharpest tool but not really aggressive either. He’d start on his tales and we’d tell him to shut up and that was it . I used to play a mocking blues piece about him on guitar called ‘pasty man blues’ as he lived on pasties stolen from the local Indian shop.
‘ he’s eat so many pasties his skin is flakin, when the indians see him comin they stash their bakin,
they call him the pasty man….. ‘
Something like that .
We never minded him popping in and felt sorry for him in a way as his family had moved to Wales and he refused to go, instead living in a bedsit so as to be close to his beloved Chelsea. He loved the club and the tribal belonging above all else. His chelsea cronies were all he had.
One day he knocked and told me he had a spare for the cheslea v liverpool game in the shed and it would be fine for me to go. I would be ‘protected.’ The chance to stand in the shed proved an opportunity not to miss so against my better instincts I chanced it. Liverpool won 5-1 as i remember. It was a weird experience at first, thinking any minute i might be beaten to a pulp.
Throughout the game I was introduced to most of chelsea’s ‘top boys’ who would wander over to swap tales of what the scousers had been up to prior to the game. A skirmish here, a reported smash and grab there. But there was no hostility. They’d laugh when another Liverpool goal went in and look over mockingly to see if I would attempt to cheer ‘ you can cheer scouse if you want’ I didn’t. That would be really taking the piss. Maybe they wanted to provoke other chelsea fans into a mass brawl. Who knows? I just smiled as the goals went flying in. The game finished we said goodbye and that was it.
A tale to tell the kids – standing on the Shed in the 80s, albeit with a bodyguard of headhunters. Oh and mentioning no names, one of their top boys father was scouse, which he proudly told me.
Giving your comment a title is wool
I remember sitting at Stamford Bridge for the first match of the season in August 1980. I was with the Wrexham supporters although I supported LFC. We were pelted with every kind of rubbish imaginable. That was just the culmination of a journey to the Bridge where I had to ask for directions from skinheads who swore menacingly at me. Mounted police had to separate the away supporters from the locals but were not always successful in doing so. I vowed after that experience never to go there again and have not done so to this day.
Does sort of seem the bulk of your vitriol stems from your mate getting headbutted by a nutcase in a pub.
*deservedly getting headbutted
Brilliant bit of writing mate!
I enjoyed every bit of that.
Let’s maul these wanker, eh!?
I remember escorting two terrified teenage scouters to the relative safety of the away end at Chelsea many years back. They stuck out a mile with their Liverpool scaly style.
Didn’t want to see em picked off.
They told me I’d be welcome in Liverpool any time.
I actually visited Liverpool to see my LFC supporting brother back last year. Sat in a pub full of sxousers watching in disbelief as Liverpool dismantled Citeh on their own turf. Had a great weekend. Best not tell any of my Chelsea mates.
As for the big game on Friday, suspect you lot will be happier than me with the eventual result.
Yours in apparent wankerdom…
One of the most confusing times for me as a fan of the footie had to be the 12/13 season. Chelsea have Rafa as a manager and an attacking trio of Mata, Oscar, and Hazard. For a moment, I almost overcame a natural revulsion for the side.
But then I’d look at Lampard and Terry – Legends, both – and remember that they were the jackasses who “allegedly stripped, swore and vomited” in front of Americans who could not return home in the aftermath of 9/11.
Broad stereotyping. Expect better from taw
Normally like your articles and articulate contributions to TAW shows but you let yourself down here. I can’t stand CFC but the article is unnecessarily provocative and one-sided. If you were with your mates down the pub then fine, but you are a writing for a global audience. This piece lacks class. This article oversteps the mark (in my opinion)
I try to avoid internet comment sections, but Rob, this was a phenomenal piece! Everything about it really wonderful. A compelling leap back in time with a crazy personal anecdote, all while getting us up for the match? I’m in. Nice one!
Fantastic piece. Agree wholeheartedly.
Was on a northern Greek island called Thassos about 9 years ago. Pretty quiet as it was mid September but went out for a meal and a drink, as you do. Was in a bar when a fella in his mid 50’s came over on hearing my Scouse brogue and started talking football and more specifically Liverpool FC.
He had a Chelsea tracksuit on over a Chelsea shirt, Chelsea lanyard with his key on, Chelsea flip-flops, a Chelsea ring (?) and Chelsea key ring for his hire car keys. I said to him after a couple of minutes with my tongue firmly in my cheek “Who do you support then ?” and he said without a hint of irony “Fuck off, it’s fucking Chelsea isn’t it ?” I asked him his name and he replied that it was Chelsea. Just Chelsea.
On further questioning it turns out he was with his wife and grandson, the latter of which, similarly attired, came over at his call. “Tell him your name” he said. The kid went something like “Frank John Peter Ron Charlie Franco Ruud Chelsea”
I couldn’t believe it. The ‘arl fella was the spit of Barry Chuckle and now lived in Wigan although he was originally from London. He offered us a lift up “Cardiac Hill” to our hotel in his jeep which we readily accepted and when we got up to our hotel he stopped and we all got out.
I thanked him for the lift and put out my hand to shake his, only when I got hold of it I squeezed like fuck causing him to recoil and yelp in pain. “Fucking have that” I thought as he squealed in his trackie.
No love lost.
PS I have a photo to illustrate the hand shake but cannot post.
Nice one, Davey lad!
Sure it wasn’t Jeremy F Clarkson?
And I’m sorry Rob Gutmann but if you’re dumb enough to go to a rival pub and disrespect the local team then it is you who is the wanker in this situation. I’m no fan of violence but your idiotic friend provoked a response no matter how petty it may be deemed. It was said to provoke and it got an undesirable response… you should be chalking that up to a listen learn in street etiquette. Be respectful when at a rival pub.
“Ordinary to Chelsea” I wish that could have been preserved on the facade of Lime St station. As much cultural significance as a Banksy.
How a Liverpool fan from London has the gall to write any of that is truly astonishing.
You’re the wanker mate, if anyone is. Glory hunting, sanctimonious, smug prick.
You should hear his voice manc, the definition of smug.
Embarrassing article. And as for your pal, you should have berated him for being such a tit mouthing off.
Up the Reds.
Up the Reds!
Seems like the rabble are getting rattled.
Aside from anything else, this article is purposely incendiary and aims to demonise a group of people based on inaccuracy, conjecture and personal bias. When both the author and TAW have been pulled up about it on here and on Twitter, you seem to have taken pride in the fact that it has annoyed people. Mission accomplished, high fives all round!
So tell me, why is it you won’t buy The Sun again?
It doesn’t warrant a conversation.
but I can tell I don’t like your face.
I don’t even like Chelsea but I’m hoping for a repeat of April 2014 tonight.
You got a big Rambo poster on your bedroom wall?
Ask your mum.
That’s better – just three words as well.
This was an interesting piece Rob, tho’ not without a few real faults and a sense of uneasiness in the reading. I know it’s intentionally provocative but it does come across as a bit pious at times. I actually think you’re personally excellent on the show, the funniest and often the most poignant voice but with regards to this particular article I’d think it best to take a leaf out of Klopp’s book, let’s not think too much about them, let’s just support our own. All the best. Ps- No fan of Chelsea at all just feel that this edges a little too much into sanctimonious..er’ ‘ness’? sanctimonious-ism? (Not a clue – I should have restructured the sentence!)
Great article rob. Don’t you find it funny how by talking about the wankers in a match preview you’ve somehow upset a few mancs. I think it’s your magnum opus . Great article with nothing spared. Fuck Chelsea and the mancs.
Up the reds
Thanks Rob G. Youve made my afternoon after that read !!! Very Very funny …..and with more than a grain of truth
What a terrible article. Embarassing. And I’m not even a Chelsea fan
Not bothered mate.
How is this a match review?
I think reviews like this is what sets TAW aside from the other run of the mill sites.
Hits the nail on the head !!
As someone who has visited Merseyside regularly over the years as a city fan from the sophisticated end of the e.lancs road I can honestly say I have found most LFC fans to be complete arseezes!! This condescending rubbish written by a southern glory hunter is laughable , there are more far more foreigners around anfield on a match day than old Trafford (which is saying something) by far the worst away grounds for hooligans in the 80s were anfield and goodison – as for buying success Liverpool like yernited have been doing exactly that since the 60s !!! Pure envy from you lot towards Chelsea and city these days – probably because they have invested well and won league titles ….whereas your lot ? Well I suppose it could also be your year (again) !!
“scousers” calling others out for racism is pure quality in the hypocrisy stakes btw
Racists are everywhere unfortunately. And they’re all dickheads. What’s your point?
Not a review, we’ve not played em yet. Mind it’s not worthy of “preview” either. Post views of a Chelsea fan and then put this drivel up? Show some class will you
Thank for popping by.
I have to say I do know some really sound Chelsea fans. That said, the ones I tend to encounter socially in pubs etc do tend to confirm to the ‘classless wanker’ image Rob provides above, and even in my largely non game going life I’ve probably had more trouble off Chelsea fans than those of other clubs.
Me too, I once encountered a very angry Chelsea fan in a kebab shop in Oxford of all places in 2006. He wanted to fight me because I was a red. I never liked that lot and while this was just one fan, it sadly represents everything I’ve seen subsequently from their fans in all walks of life, including professionally. Great article Rob, profocotive yes, pretty much sound and spot on, yep.
You support a club that represents an amazing city – a city that pulls you into its beautiful warm embrace and makes you feel amazing, a city where community and family is everything, a city with heart and sole. You are supporting a club that has this in its DNA, a club that is the gold standard in world football with very few clubs matching its grace and might. So I would say don’t bother about the lesser clubs and continue writing articles about merits of our Mighty Reds for the 580 million fans that appreciate it. YNWA