E2K, that's a brilliant read - very evocative. But I think it's unfair.
It's easy to go down the "Liverpool Good, Chelsea Bad" road, especially when you've just seen Dropba act like vermin and say, Kuyt or Torres act like gentlemen. But saying things like:
is doing a huge huge disservice to many Chelsea players who were great men as well as great players. Zola & Desailly spring to mind and I'm sure older people on here could name many more from past generations.
As for tarring all their fans with the "trash" brush, I think that's out of order too. There's a thread in the Hillsborough forum about a cfcnet thread on the disaster. Amongst all the insensive comments, there are many Chelsea fans who wrote things like this:
That's written by Simon, a Chelsea fan. There are more like that.
Like I said though E2K, great article and I know it would have completely lost it's edge if you kept putting in disclaimers ("Theyíll never know what itís like to have men Ė MEN Ė like this playing for them. Never. Except for Zola, Desailly, etc" doesn't sound as good).
But I still think it's necessary for someone to point out theyre not all bad. There's a Charles Itandje thread too around here if anyone wants proof that we're not all good either.
Those are fair points mate, and thanks for the kind words (and to everyone else who have posted responses).
I certainly have nothing but respect and affection for Gianfranco Zola, a player I was a huge fan of since his young days doing a very good job attempting to fill Maradonaís boots at Napoli, and who has always been a real gent. Chelsea F.C has probably had others too, for that matter. You mentioned Desailly. They also had a manager not so long ago with a lot of class, Claudio Ranieri. Gianluca Vialli always seemed a decent sort too. I could probably come up with a few others if I had more time to think.
The problem is, those days are gone. Maybe not forever, but the days of Chelsea F.C. having players that you can admire seem more and more distant to me.
Iím sorry if the word ďtrashĒ seemed a bit offensive, as you might tell I was a bit emotional when I wrote it. I do realise that Chelsea probably do have some great supporters. There are two in my girlfriendís family that I get on great with, one of whom (her uncle) has been a supporter since the sixties and remained loyal even when they were bouncing between the top two divisions and suffered the ignominy of changing hands for £1 (or whatever it was) back when Ken Bates took over. Believe me, I donít want to tar all of their supporters with the same brush.
However, I will never understand anyone who cheers Didier Dropba, and every single person in that stadium was on Tuesday (away end excepted, obviously). I canít fathom that, and Iíve tried. In fact, my post that you mention was borne of an attempt, in the aftermath of last Tuesdayís result, to get my head around the fact that they cheer and applaud individuals that make my stomach clench, and find some crumbs of comfort after the defeat which turned into a feast as I examined the reasons why weíre different and my heart began to burst with pride.
They cheer him because they support their club, and therefore support what their club gives them. Dropba is a piece of human excrement, at least as far as how he plays on the pitch. They cheer for human excrement because he wears a Chelsea jersey. I wouldnít if he was in a red one. Iíd rather walk away from the game.
You see, I can take it that the most barren spell our club has endured since the sixties (in terms of league titles, at least) has occurred during my time supporting Liverpool. I can take it that the most successful period in the history of our greatest rivals has coincided with our drought, from the time I was 12 to present day. Iím 29 now. In other words, these events have marked the vast majority of my life watching football. But thatís normal stuff, part of what supporting a club is all about. Despite the blows and the disappointments, itís something you just deal with and continue supporting the club. Itís that simple. It isnít even a problem, really.
Outside of that, I can take the fact that money continues to be numbers one, two, three and four on the list of priorities of almost every player that takes the pitch nowadays. Fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth is winning, which is to be achieved at all costs. Ninth and tenth is money again. I can deal with that. I can just about stick the agents and the bureaucrats, the rampant hypocrisy and corruption, the lies, the bullshit, the ego, the greed. I can tune out when thick pundits with vested interests start yapping. I can shake off the frustration and the anger I feel at the blatant, pre-mediated cheating that takes place in almost every game I see. I can take the WAGís and all the other hangers-on. I can deal with all of it and still stumble back for more.
You know why?
Because of Pepe Reina, who plays with a smile on his face and an immense passion for the game, who played for the 96 on Tuesday and held his hands up over his mistake. Because of Sami Hyypia, one of the toughest and fairest players Iíve ever had the pleasure of watching, a legend on and off the pitch. Because of Steven Gerrard, who weíve all had the honour of watching grow into one hell of a man, and who along with Jamie Carragher embodies what is great and unique about our club and the city of Liverpool. Speaking of Jamie Carragher - what did he say it was like in Istanbul, hot tar running down his leg as he cramped after throwing himself at yet another Milan cross? Magnificent.
Because of Fernando Torres, who knows. He just knows. Everything he says and does, the way he carries himself, he knows this club. Heís one of us. He gives a shit to learn the history, to make the extra effort. Forget about the goals for a moment Ė heís just a gem of a man. Because of Xabi Alonso, who had the inner strength to recover from being touted around in the summer (and two below-par seasons) to become our best player this campaign. Because of Dirk Kuyt, who is the embodiment of what anybody would want their son to become Ė honest, hard-working, loyal, strong, good-hearted, someone you could trust with your life. Wherever his dad is, you can be damn sure heís proud. Because of Javier Mascherano, another who leaves it all on the pitch, every game, who doesnít just give you a performance but gives you himself. Fuck it, because of Lucas Leiva, a young man thousands of miles from home who gets booed by part of his own support but steps right back up every time heís called upon.
Because of Rafael Benitez. No explanation necessary, but Iíll say it anyway Ė a throwback. Almost a mirage. An honest, humble manager these days? Who deflects all praise onto his players? Who answers every question, no matter how thick or underhanded, patiently and with a smile on his face? Who the supporters march for. Who goes into a bar and has a drink with those same supporters. Who gets it. Like Torres, he gets it. A man whoís one of us. Who gives a shit. Where the hell would you find someone like that to manage your team nowadays?
Because he isnít the only one. Gerard Houllier told us to aim for the moon, and he showed us the stars, at least for a while. Roy Evans, a chip off the bootroom block, dignified and graceful, a mirror image of the club he loves. Graeme Souness, who failed as our manager but is a glittering gem in the history of our club, a man whose passion for Liverpool F.C. continues to burn brightly. Kenny Dalglish. Words canít describe the esteem in which I hold that man, not just for his efforts as player and manager of Liverpool F.C. but for the way in which stepped up after Hillsborough. That was truly inspiring.
Because of Shankly and his love for the people, whose heart broke when he gave up the reigns. Because of Sir Bob Paisley. Because of Fagan. Because of Barnes and Beardsley, Aldo and Rushie. Thommo. Crazy Horse. Kevin Keegan. Brucieís wobbly legs and Jerzyís cover version. Because of Istanbul. Not just because we won, but because of how we picked ourselves up and fought. Just like last Tuesday night. Each Chelsea goal was a hammer blow to our hopes, but we kept coming back for more. We kept getting knocked down and getting back up. We kept swinging. As always, there was not one ounce of quit in that team. That defines this club, and from what I can see, defines the city as well.
Do you see what Iím saying here? The only reason I continue to watch a sport with so many disgusting elements is because of this club and its people, the supporters, the managers and players that its been lucky to have over the years, and its spirit. I do not understand anyone who cheers for Didier Dropba and I never will. If he was a Liverpool player, I would be disgusted. As my earlier post said, you are what you eat, and weíre used to better. What kind of reaction would you expect from me if I had to eat shit? Iíd probably puke my guts up, and thatís what itís like watching this man throw himself to the ground.
Dropba is a cheat. He dives, he cons. He feigns injury, all in the name of winning. Gudjohnsen and Robben were the same. So is Malouda. Frank Lampard kisses his badge like he loves the club, just like he did at West Ham, then looks to up his already mind-boggling wages with the knowledge that he can always move on if his demands arenít met. John Terry intimidates referees and shamelessly comes clean about cheating on his wife on multiple occasions, his finest hour since being part of a group (which also contained Gudjohnsen and Jody Morris, I believe) who caused a scene at a pub on the day of 9/11. Ashley Cole, another serial cheat who acts like weíre meant to care that Arsenal wouldnít pay him an extra £5,000 on his wages. Theyíre called rent boys. Rent boys bend over for money. Ballack came for the money too.
They may have some good pros, some players who arenít cheats, but the aura of that club since Abramovich bought it has been ďwin at all costsĒ and if that means cheating, so be it. The truth is, if Roman Abramovich had bought Liverpool in 2003 instead, if he had installed Mourinho as manager of us, or if Terry, Lampard and their chums were somehow playing for us now and Stevie, Nando and Rafa plied their trade at Stamford Bridge, I would no longer be watching football.
Now maybe thatís just me. If you disagree, by all means file it under ďWell thatís your prerogative,Ē no problem. But to see the difference between those players over the last couple of games, well surely Iím not the only one to notice it? Surely Iím not the only one to be angered by it? Yes, we are great because we are great, but a flower stands out even more if itís surrounded by garbage. Football, largely, looks more and more like garbage to me these days, and nights like Tuesday just reminds me why I still watch the game. Itís because of Liverpool F.C. and nothing else.