sports

Chelsea Rising Star “Cole Palmer” Unmatched Admiration: A Lavish Collection of Lamborghini Supercars”

Cole Palmer’s impressive car collection, with the Chelsea star now driving a £190,000 Lamborghini Urus
Just 21, Palmer has already driven some amazing motors – but what was his first car?
For Chelsea, he has exploded into life and become a Premier League star since his £47.5million move from Man City last summer.
A hat-trick against Man Utd in a stunningly late 4-3 win for the Blues took his tally to 19 goals in all competitions.

In what has been a disappointing campaign for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, Palmer has been the one bright spark.

Ony 21, the attacking midfielder has also managed to build a steady car collection that belie his young years.

SunSport takes a look at what the England international has in his garage.
Lamborghini Urus, £190,000

The staple motor for any Premier League footballer, Lamborghini’s first foray into the SUV world is regularly seen at the training grounds of all the major clubs.

It genuinely is an astonishing motor, boasting all the finesse of a supercar – but offering a lot more leg room.

There once was a huge waiting list for the Urus, but top class athletes have seemingly jumped the queue.

The starting price is around the £190,000 mark, but can rise up to £240,000.
Powered by Lamborghini’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, it reaches 0-62 mph in around 3.5 seconds, while it has a top speed of around 190 mph.
Mercedes A-Class, £30,000

A starter kit into the Mercedes brand, when Palmer scored his first big contract at Man City he splashed the cash on an A-Class.

It can come as a hatchback or sedan, so is mostly seen as a family car.
But Palmer looked pleased as punch when he showed it off on social media as a teenage prodigy.

Depending on the model, it reaches 0-62 mph in between 4.8 or 9.3 seconds.

There are also hybrid models that offer a combination of petrol and electric power, with an electric range of around 44 miles.
BMW i4, £71,000

Launched in 2022, as Palmer’s began to integrate with the first team at the Etihad he upgraded his A-Class Merc to this classy beamer.

It is BMW’s first Gran Coupé electric car and is based on the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé.

Available in two versions – eDrive40 and M50 – Palmer had the latter.
With a base price of around £71,000, it wasn’t a cheap upgrade.

However, it is a zippy motor – able to reach 0-62 mph in a mere 3.9 seconds.
Volkswagen Polo, £20,000

Because we all have to start somewhere…

Palmer’s first car was a suitably sensible Volkswagen Polo, with new models starting at around the £20,000 mark.

Renowned for being the best budget car on the market, it’s perfect for city life.

Although it’s not a car for speed demons – managing 0-62 mph in 6.5 or 15.6 seconds, dependent on specs.
Still, you can trust German engineering to get it right, which Palmer seems to believe in given his car choices.

Thankfully, though, he’s English and plays for the Three Lions.

Chelsea vs. West Ham United

With my good friend Alan’s absence from the Chelsea vs. West Ham game due to Bromley’s participation in the National League play-off final at Wembley, there was an extra space in The Sleepy Hollow. Clive had originally given his ticket to Glenn, but it was Clive who picked up Alan’s ticket. Confused? Yeah, me too.

So, the upshot of all that is that there were now five heading up to London in my car for the second London derby in four days. I collected PD and then Glenn at 6.45am, Ron at 7am, Lord Parky at 7.20am.

By 9.20am, I had deposited three of the passengers near “The Eight Bells” and one at the gates to Stamford Bridge. I parked up and darted into the “McDonalds” for a bite to eat and a much-needed coffee. There was a quick chat with John and his son.

“Odd feeling today. I said to the chaps in the car that I was really confident today, but they were having none of it.”

I had a quick chat with Marco at the “CFCUK” stall, a few words with Steve at his programme stall, a brief chat and catch-up with a few former players in the hotel, and a drink with Donna, whose daughter Tallulah was one of the match mascots on this warm and sunny day in West London. I didn’t have my Canon SLR with me on this particular day; the baggage checks are getting more and more draconian and for reasons that I will keep to myself, I didn’t want to risk it. I would be making do with my smaller Sony camera and so, sadly, wouldn’t be able to take any close-ups of Tallulah as she made her way onto the pitch.

With the tubes kaput, I was forced to take the 414 bus down to Putney Bridge. I strolled into the pub just before 11.30am. The boys – joined by the Normandy Division of Ollie and Julien – were already getting stuck into some beers. It was Ollie’s birthday the previous day. To celebrate, I bought a round of shots. A few more rounds of shots would follow.

I, of course, was driving so nothing alcoholic for me.

I took a photo of the lads and posted it on “Facebook.”

I titled it : “Fooligans.”

My friends Aroha and Luke were in the pub, in the far corner, and they were with their two-and-a-half-year-old son Archie, who was bedecked in a blue Chelsea top. This was to be his third Chelsea game, and his first London derby. I have known Aroha and Luke for over ten years or more, and it was a joy to see them bringing their little lad to Chelsea.

At just after 1pm, we set off to catch the 22 bus to Stamford Bridge. Archie was hoisted on top of his father’s shoulders and he joined in with the chanting. I loved that.

However, the bus trip didn’t go as planned, and we seemed to take forever to reach the appropriate point on the King’s Road. Eventually we got off. Very soon, the support struts of the roof at Stamford Bridge could be seen, and I looked back at just the right time to see little Archie’s face light up as he pointed at the sight ahead.

Dear reader, it was such a beautiful moment.

The wonderment and excitement on his little face will be etched on my brain for a long time. We said our goodbyes as we opened up on to the Fulham Road and we made our way in. Lo and behold, nobody stopped me at the second, usually more thorough, bag check at the bottom of the steps to the MHU.

Oh well, I was in.

However, such had been the delay on the bus that I was only just in. As I walked up the final few steps to The Sleepy Hollow, “Liquidator” was booming.

I know I work in logistics, but this really was a little too “just in time” for my liking.

We had heard that Thiago Silva was starting, and the defensive line had been shuffled to accomdate him.

Petrovic

Chalobah – Badiashile – Silva – Cucarella

Gallagher – Caicedo

Madueke – Palmer – Mudryk

Jackson

The bench looked ridiculously stronger than against Tottenham on Thursday.

As the game began, I promised myself to make a note of the movements of comrade Cucarella, who – unbeknown to me – had been adopting a new position further infield once we were in possession in the past one-and-a-half games. The nerds were going wild about it on social media; plainly I had missed the email. I have to say how impressed I was with Cucarella’s scurrying back to his left-back berth once possession was lost, but I noted that even in the first ten minutes, his man was way clear on the right-hand touchline on one occasion. You would think it would be a high-risk strategy, but the wide man was only noticeably unmarked on one other occasion during the whole game.

The West Ham three-thousand started to sing about being “Champions of Europe” and we all guffawed with laughter. I am still unsure if their version is due to them being deluded or a nice effort at self-deprecating irony. For the future of mankind, I hoped for the latter but feared the former.

Fackinell.

In some ways, with no SLR, the pressure was off me to try to get a few killer photographs. The smaller camera was, in my eyes, simply not up to the task. I decided not to take as many photos. On this day, I would take just forty-five photos from the ninety minutes. I usually take three times that amount. I relaxed a little. I still made a note of a few key moments on my ‘phone, but this would be a different kind of game for me. I would be less of a photographer, more of a fan. If that is fucking possible.

There was a little light-jousting in the first quarter of an hour, but I was soon being gloriously entertained.

On fifteen minutes, Noni Madueke created just enough space to lift a cross towards the penalty spot. Nicholas Jackson took a swing but his effort was blocked and the ball came out to the waiting Cole Palmer. I think I inwardly relaxed. Did I expect a goal? Truthfully, yes. Our little diamond instinctively swept the ball in with a gentle swipe towards the far post.

The net rustled.

Areola must have felt a tit.

Chelsea 1 West Ham United 0.

Just after, the head of Jarrod Bowen got to the ball from a corner from Emerson – who? he? – down below us. The header flew in, but thankfully cannoned back off the bar.

Phew.

At around this time, I leaned forward and told Albert in the row in front of me about Clive’s teaser from Thursday. To my shock, Albert only took six guesses and about five minutes to guess the five England players, the “G-Men” from the ‘eighties. I slapped him on the back.

“Well done, son. Well impressed.”

With that, Clive managed to lose the grip on a cup of boiling hot chocolate and a large portion of it spilled onto Albert.

“Easy, Clive, no need to be like that.”

Unfortunately, there are no photographs of the incident.

We were all howling.

With twenty-five minutes gone, we were playing some lovely football. Everything seemed to be knitting together nicely. Efforts from several players rained in on the West Ham goal.

We spoke a little about the day in 1984, almost forty years ago, when West Ham, and more importantly the ICF, visited in vast numbers and despite Chelsea winning 3-0 on the day, it felt that we had been embarrassed a little. Clive took a few hits in The Shed that day. Glenn and I admitted that we were in the safest part of the ground that day; the benches. West Ham, at various times, were in all other parts of the ground. Shudder.

Forty years ago, Fackinell.

On the half-hour mark, a long move saw us creep up the pitch. It was begun with a firm first-time side-foot out of defensive from Thiago Silva, and it really pleased me. It was right on the money. The move developed, mainly down our tight, and although the ball was momentarily lost, it was soon regained. Palmer struck a low roller to the feet of Madueke, but when the ball was semi-cleared – a little similar to the first goal – it ran nicely to Coner Gallagher, who smacked it home on the volley.

Blue & Whites 2 Clarets & Blues 0.

A little knot of Essex Blues behind me were loving it.

Six minutes later, a deep corner in front of the away support from Mkhailo Mudryk was headed back into the six-yard box by Thiago Silva – a resounding leap and header, pure poetry – and the ball ended up in the net. I was a little unsighted, but that man Maduke, had got the final touch.

The Richardsons 3 The Krays 0.

I was up and celebrating with the lads behind me. That little walkway behind my seat has seen some exuberant celebrations over the years and here was another one.

I was up and celebrating another chance just after, as Gallagher smacked a shot from a Palmer cross, after more beautiful twists and turns on the right, against the bar. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t really know what had happened.

But – oh boy, we were purring.

Conor was through, one on one, but fell too easily.

Bizarrely, Bowen hit the Chelsea bar again, just before the break.

At half-time, the warm buzz of quality football. Bliss. A few West Ham fans had already left.

Just three minutes into the second-half, a magnificent ball from deep from Trevoh Chalobah – the sort of ball that I have been wanting to be played for so long – evaded everyone, but dropped into the path of Madueke inside the box. Rather than finish himself, he played the ball square to Nicolas Jackson, who coolly pushed the ball home. Jackson had been a constant worry to the West Ham defence and the goal was richly deserved.

Fulham Broadway 4 Pudding Mill Lane 0.

Up came a massively entertaining chant, slightly-altered from Thursday.

“West Ham get battered, everywhere they go.”

I spotted a little show-boating from Palmer in the middle of the pitch, and the match began to resemble a training game. I wanted more goals – “let’s humiliate them” – but I think that the intensity dropped, and that’s not surprising really.

West Ham threatened our goal with a few half-chances. There was a great save from Petrovic from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick.

Bowen gained an unlikely hat-trick by hitting the bar once again; this time via a slight deflection. Not with his right foot though, so not a perfect woodwork hat-trick. Must try better.

Substitutions took place late in the game.

Cesare Casadei for Madueke.

Christopher Nknunku for Mudryk.

On eighty minutes, Moises Caicedo won the ball and pushed the ball into the path of the raiding Jackson. To my eyes, it looked offside, and so when Jackson finished coolly, I was not celebrating with too much enthusiasm. There was a massive wait for VAR to confirm…no offside, goal. Kurt Zouma – who? he? – had played him on.

Joe Cole 5 Carlton Cole 0.

More substitutions.

Axel Disasi for Thiago Silva.

Malo Gusto for Chalobah.

Alfie Gilchrist for Palmer.

This was another lovely Chelsea performance and it was a joy to watch from the stands. In the end, my photos weren’t too bad and I include some here of course.

On the drive home, we eyed our last three games and we dreamed of three more wins, and maybe, Europe.

Next up, a solo trip to Nottingham.

See you there.

PS – Archie loved it!

Chelsea vs. Everton

After the game at Bramall Lane on Sunday 7 April, I was again treated to a two-game football weekend. But this was no Saturday and Sunday double-header. No, nothing as easy as that. With modern football being modern football, this was one that featured matches on a Friday and a Monday.

The reward for working my first five-day week for a month – what a slog – was a Friday evening at Frome Town with a game against Bishops Cleeve, a team from near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. After the dropped points at Exmouth Town the previous Saturday, this was a match that my local team just had to win. Thankfully, a Sam Meakes goal mid-way through the first half gave the home team a slender 1-0 win. However, it was a tough match, despite the visitors having a player sent off just before half-time. In the second half, the visitors enjoyed much of the possession, and everyone became more and more nervous with each passing minute. Thankfully, Frome’s defence were resolute and kept attacks at bay. The Frome ‘keeper Kyle Phillips, in fact, did not have too much to do. Frome, defending deeper than we thought necessary, took all three points, which kept the team at the top of the Southern League South. The attendance was a very pleasing 690, which took the home average up to 483 for the season. Frome have just three games left; if we win them all, we will be automatically promoted.

Saturday and Sunday came and went, but with some pretty hilarious football results along the way.

Newcastle United 4 Tottenham Hotspur 0.

Liverpool 0 Crystal Palace 1.

West Ham 0 Fulham 2.

Arsenal 0 Aston Villa 2.

I worked another early shift on the Monday. At 2pm, I set off from Melksham in Wiltshire with PD and LP. There was a little chat about the evening’s game with Everton, who last won a league game at Stamford Bridge almost thirty years ago. Did I expect us to win against the SW6-shy Toffees?

Yes. There I said it.

I dropped the lads off near “McGettigans” on Fulham Broadway at 4.30pm so they could enjoy a quiet drink with Salisbury Steve. My pre-match was spent at Stamford Bridge where I took a few photographs of the pre-match scene. Overhead, there was a clear blue sky, but despite the Spring sun, it was bitter. In fact, it was so cold, thanks to a raw wind, that I had to disappear inside the megastore for twenty minutes to keep warm. It’s a place that I hardly ever visit these days. I am still trying to get over the sight of a bloke, probably in his early thirties, with a small Chelsea crest painted on his face. Outside under old The Shed wall, I bumped into a few friends before I finally made my way inside the ground at 7.30pm.

As I walked up the steps to the MHU and made my way to my seat, I was serenaded – appropriately enough – by “Blue Monday” by New Order.

Perfect.

I wondered if there might be a Chelsea-themed sequence of songs, but no. However, the next three songs were decent enough.

“Going Underground” by The Jam.

“Echo Beach” by Martha And The Muffins.

“Call Me” by Blondie.

Ah, four favourites. Four classics. The person choosing the set list certainly knew his target audience; it always seems that the match-goers around me in The Sleepy Hollow are children of the ’eighties, in thoughts, words and deeds.

Then, “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits.

Ugh. Oh well, four out of five ain’t bad.

It was still light as the kick-off approached. The lightshow and the flickering flames did not have quite the same impact in the evening dusk.

The teams appeared.

Us?

Petrovic

Gusto – Silva – Chalobah – Cucarella

Gallagher – Caicedo

Madueke – Palmer – Mudryk

Jackson

Them?

A smattering of familiar names, a few young ones, and two old ones; Seamus Coleman, aged thirty-five, and Ashley Young, aged thirty-eight. Young always looks like he has his legs on incorrectly.

Just before kick-off, Tommie Senior and Tommie Junior – from Riverside in California and last spotted at Sheffield United – appeared twenty-yards away in seats to my left. It would be their first match at Stamford Bridge; I had managed to get them tickets via a mate. They looked ridiculously excited. Alan and Clive sat alongside PD and little old me, the first time that all four of us had been present at Chelsea for a while.

The game began at 8pm. I wasn’t keen that we were attacking the Matthew Harding in the first-half.

Everton, dressed in an all pink ensemble that reminded me of Daytona Beach in the late ‘eighties, began quite brightly. In front of the three thousand away fans, a cross came in from the Everton right – that man Coleman – but Beto thankfully stabbed his shot over the bar.

On thirteen minutes, a magnificent Chelsea move was played out in front of us. Cole Palmer received the ball forty yards out, nut-megged one of the young Evertonians – Jarrad Branthwaite – and adeptly back heeled a pass to Nicolas Jackson who quickly returned the ball to Palmer. I felt myself relax. Palmer’s body language reeked of self-belief and as he coolly and calmly slotted the ball towards the far post with a delicate flick of his left-foot wand, it seemed churlish for me to be worried about the outcome. The goal quickly came.

Chelsea 1 Everton 0.

Palmer again, ole, ole.

It was almost too easy.

Alan : THTCAUN.

Chris : COMLD.

Just after, Noni Madueke, who had begun positively, drilled a ball in from the wing. From our position high above the corner flag it appeared that the forward movement of Palmer had hindered the path of the ball into the net. Palmer looked momentarily deflated.

On eighteen minutes, we attacked again. Moises Caicedo to Mykhailo Mudryk and a burst down below us, and a pass to Jackson. The young striker’s shot was parried by Jordan Pickford, who used to be a goalkeeper. The ball sat up nicely for Palmer to nod emphatically home from just inside the six-yard box.

Chelsea 2 Everton 0.

Palmer again, ole, ole.

Alan had noted that his two goals had been scored by his left peg and his head, and so was already thinking ahead about a perfect hat-trick.

It was an open game. Chances were shared. Mudryk raced back well to hack away a goal bound effort off the line at the Shed End. Jackson, not shy to come forward, fired a blooter just over the bar.

On twenty-nine minutes, a terrible pass out of defence by Pickford was pounced on by Palmer of all people. He instantaneously accessed the situation. His GPS was spot on, as he quickly lifted the ball high over Pickford’s gurning face, and the flight of the ball immediately impressed me.

…thinking : ”this looks in.”

Yep, the ball dropped into the empty net.

A roar from the Chelsea crowd.

Chelsea 3 Everton 0.

Palmer again, ole, ole.

I looked over towards the Two Tommies; oh boy, they were loving it.

Alan : “was that his right foot?”

Chris : “yep.”

Alan : “Perfect.”

Stamford Bridge had taken a while to make some worthwhile noise, but now the place was rocking to one or two “Carefrees.”

We thought that the visitors had pulled a goal back but I quickly spotted a raised flag for offside.

Phew.

To their credit, Everton kept attacking, but they looked awfully exposed when we got on the front foot. On forty-four minutes, Marc Cucarella – most definitely an improved player from last season – sent over a cross towards the near post. Jackson brought the ball down with a really exquisite move, and swivelled smoothly before slotting the ball home. This was another beautiful goal. What a performance.

Chelsea 4 Everton 0.

At half-time, all was well in the world. I joked with the lads that I had not taken too many photographs of the game thus far, but 90% of them had been of goal celebrations. The actual breakdown was as follows :

Total photos : 58

Goal celebrations : 28

So, the actual percentage was 48% but never let the truth ruin a good line. In truth, we hadn’t exactly peppered the Everton goal with shots, but we found ourselves four goals to the good. In a season – or more – when we have bemoaned our lack of quality in front of goal, it was lovely to see our goals to shots ratio increase, if only for one game.

Baby steps and all that.

The second-half began and I was dreaming of a cricket score. I am sure that I was not alone. The new Chelsea midfield of Caicedo and Gallagher was performing well, allowing others to move forward to exploit the tiring Everton defence. We kept to the same script and were rewarded in the sixty-fourth minute when Madueke tumbled after a crude challenge by James Tarkowski. The referee quickly pointed to the spot.

The madness that then ensued caused unnecessary tensions in the stadium, both on the pitch and off it. While Palmer, who had fallen just before the foul on Madueke, gathered himself, there seemed to be a feisty altercation on the penalty spot between Madueke, Jackson, Silva and Gallagher. In everyone’s mind, Palmer was the obvious – and only – choice for the penalty. Madueke and Jackson seemed to have other opinions. Silva and Gallagher wrested the ball away from Madueke, who flounced off in a pathetic strop.

Palmer placed the ball on the spot.

Palmer scored.

Chelsea 5 Everton 0.

Palmer again, ole, ole.

Alan asked me to name the last occasion that we were 5-0 up at home in the league. I could only think of that magnificent game – better than this one – in November 2016 when we beat Everton 5-0.

(The correct answer was Norwich City in 2021 when we went in to win 7-0.)

Mauricio Pochettino made some changes.

Carney Chukwuemeka for Madueke.

Madueke had played well, but had blotted his copybook with his stupid tantrum on the penalty spot. I expected a few boos, but there were hardly any.

The Everton fans, wh had sreadfastly resisted the desire to return to Merseyside began to leave en masse.

More changes came.

Cesare Casadie for Palmer.

What a player this young lad is. Twenty goals for our number twenty this season, level with a certain Manchester City totem. The applause for Palmer was loud and sustained.

Ben Chilwell for Mudryk.

Not Mudryk’s best game, not his worst, he was applauded too.

Thiago Silva was serenaded on many occasions during the game, especially with him defending down below us in the second-half. I am sure that everyone wants to let him know how much he is loved in these last few weeks of his Chelsea career.

Two more late changes.

Alfie Gilchrist for Gusto.

Another decent outing for young Gusto, who was warmly applauded.

Deivid Washington for Jackson.

Jackson is getting there, there are improvements taking place, and he was applauded too.

In the ninetieth minute, a cross from the left by Chilwell eventually fell to Alfie Gilchrist. The youngster took aim and fired a strong shot past the hapless Pickford and a huge roar enveloped the stadium. It was, of course, his first goal in the first team. The scorer raced towards the corner flag and seemed to be accelerating as he ran on. I thought he was going to keep on running onto the West Stand forecourt and down the Fulham Road before eventually stopping at “Chubby’s Grill” or whatever it is called these days for a hot dog and onions.

Fackinell.

The joy in Alfie’s celebrations warmed us all up on a very fine night at a cold – Cole Palmer cold – Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea vs. Manchester United

But don’t hop straight to that. Every story has a start, then a build-up, and a back-story or two.

Fasten your seat belts though; I don’t want you to fall off at the end of the ride.

On the way home in the car after the Burnley game that ended in a disappointing 2-2 draw, we engendered a pretty intense post mortem about where the club is, where the team is, our strengths and weaknesses, the whole nine yards. It was an exhaustive chat. The closing thought was along the lines of “well, hopefully we will all be healthy enough to keep going to games for a while yet” with a deeply pragmatic “we can only show up and support, the rest is fluff” as a final word on the day’s events. Although we had been dismayed with a draw against a weak, and weakened, team we have all been going to Chelsea for too many seasons to let a draw get us suicidal.

On the Easter Monday, I travelled to my place of work, Melksham, to watch a local derby. In a tough game, Frome Town raced to a 2-0 lead early in the first-half, and withstood a late Melksham Town charge to eventually squeak it 2-1. The crowd was a very decent 1,103 and the win put Frome Town top of our division.

The next Chelsea game, the 8.15pm kick-off against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on the following Thursday, meant that I had to turn up at work for another 6am to 2pm shift. I was up at 4.45am and I dreaded to think what time I would be returning home. Before I left for work at 5.30am, I had a quick check on all of the previous Chelsea vs. Manchester United games that I had attended; across all venues, it currently stood at eighty-one This game would be number eighty-two.

There are four Manchester United followers in the office, though two were absent on this particular day. I set things up by saying that of the previous eighty-one games, few had excited me less. There was no banter in the office during the day. Oh well.

Only PD was travelling up with me for this game; the other two regulars were not able to attend unfortunately. Our friends from Jacksonville – Jennifer, Cindy, Brian, Tom – met us in “The Elephant And Barrel” on Lillee Road for some pre-match chat. I was reminded of the first time that Jennifer and Brian attended a game at Stamford Bridge; it was the game against West Ham United in April 2018, just a few days after Ray Wilkins sadly passed away. What an emotional game that was. And here we all were, six years later, on the exact anniversary of his passing. That Ray played for both Chelsea and Manchester United was fitting.

We called in at “The Cock Tavern” and I bored the Americans rigid with how I enjoyed my first-ever pint at this popular pub in April 1984, almost forty years ago. The boozer was packed when we arrived at about 7pm and I hoped that as we squeezed out to the beer garden the crowds would thin out. If anything, it got busier. We were packed in like sardines.

I said to Jennifer “this is when us English types stand around and look awkward.” But Brian had a different take.

“What could be more typically English than this? We are in London, in a pub, before going to the football. It’s raining and the Spice Girls are playing on the pub’s speakers.”

I smiled.

With rain threatening to get worse, we made our way along the Fulham Road.

I was inside Stamford Bridge just before 8pm.

We had heard the team.

Petrovic

Gusto – Disasi – Badiashile – Cucarella

Caicedo – Enzo

Palmer – Gallagher – Mudryk

Jackson

There were the usual three-thousand United fans staring us down in the opposite corner. They came with a few flags draped over the balcony wall, including one I remember from a few years ago.

“Levenshulme Reds : MUFC – No Mither.”

There were flags from up north – St. Helens – and down south – Patchway – and the away crowd were already in good voice. Before the game, the annoying PA chap shouted at us and obliterated any chance we had of building our own atmosphere.

Then came the dimming of the lights, the flames in front of the East Stand and a display of flags being waved in The Shed. Then, vertical “Keep The Blue Flag Flying High” banners draped down into the lower tier.

The fools who had paid £5,000 per seat took their places behind the Chelsea dugout.

The stadium lights brightened and the players strode onto the pitch.

The famous blue, the famous red.

The three visitors from Florida – not Tom, he is originally from Ireland, and not Chelsea, but Cindy’s partner, and watching his own team in a nearby pub – finally made their way into their seats front and centre of the Shed Lower. I easily spotted them.

Clive was alongside me, but sadly Alan was unable to make this one.

The game began.

And how.

After just four minutes of play, with us attacking both sets of fans in The Shed, Enzo played the ball out to Malo Gusto on the right with a fantastic pass. Gusto sent over a low cross, and the ball fell nicely for the onrushing Conor Gallagher. The captain quickly dispatched the ball towards goal in a way that was very reminiscent of Frank Lampard in his prime. To my eyes, the habitually mocked United ‘keeper Andre Onana appeared to dive over the ball. There was an air of disbelief, a slight delay, before everyone realised that the ball had rippled the United net.

Get in.

As the scorer raced down towards the corner flag in the South-West corner, I purred with happiness when I immediately thought back to the absolutely nonsensical abuse suffered by the player since the Burnley match.

Chelsea 1 Manchester United 0.

I shouted over to PD; “I remember Pedro’s early goal in 2016 against this lot” and wondered if there would be a ridiculous repeat.

Chances were exchanged as the game continued. United looked dangerous at times with Alejandro Garnacho looking particularly mischievous. Rasmus Hojlund looked as though he could cause us some trouble too. But we had decent spells of our own.

On nineteen minutes, Marc Cucarella played a one-two with Mykhailo Mudryk, and was upended in the box by Antony.

It looked a penalty from one-hundred yards away, cough, cough.

Cole Palmer took the ball and cleanly despatched the ball past Onana, and then celebrated with a trot right in front of Cindy, Jennifer and Brian.

Snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap.

Some good ones there I hoped.

Chelsea 2 Manchester United 0.

There was a magnificent Zola-esque bamboozle out on the right by the half-way line by Palmer that made us squeal with delight. But at 2-0, I felt we didn’t really push on as much as we should. Our play was a little too slow, a familiar complaint this season, and in others too. But the once buoyant United hordes were quiet. We had them on the ropes. It was such a shame that we didn’t really go for it.

There was a Gallagher free-kick from out on the right and an Axel Disasi header but not much else.

Sadly, on thirty-four minutes, an errant square pass from Moises Caicedo to Benoit Badishile was cut out by the raiding Garnacho. He sped away and tucked the ball home.

Chelsea 2 Manchester United 1.

Bollocks.

Caicedo looked devastated.

We looked second-best for a while and on thirty-eight minutes, Cucarella gave Garnacho too much space down below us and he had time to pass back to the unmarked Diogo Dalot. His cross cut out everyone, but was expertly headed home by Bruno Fernandes at the back post, the ball dropping in past Petrovic. I found myself muttering “good goal” to myself and immediately questioned my very existence.

Fackinell.

Chelsea 2 Manchester United 2.

Right at the end of the half, a screamer from Gallagher rattled against the near post, right in front of Cindy, Jennifer and Brian.

At half-time, there were comments about how loose the game at been.

“Woeful defending for our two conceded goals.”

“It’ll be 4-4 at the final whistle.”

Soon into the second-half, we were treated to two excellent tackles / interceptions by Disasi, one seemingly while on his arse.

We struck at the United goal via Nicolas Jackson and Enzo.

In the Fernandez versus Fernandes battle, things were tight.

The game was opening up, and Chelsea peppered the United goal with efforts. Onana made several dramatic one-handed saves during the evening.

Sadly, halfway through the second-half, a lightening break down our right allowed Antony to advance and play a spectacularly good ball with the outside of his boot into the penalty area. We were stretched, and the ball bounced up and allowed Garnach to stoop nimbly just before Petrovic could clear. It was an odd goal, quite unique, and it gave the visitors the lead.

Chelsea 2 Manchester United 3.

I imagined the four United fans at work preparing a few barbs for me.

The away fans bellowed “Who the fuck are man United and the reds going marching on, on, on?”

I grimaced.

This self-deprecating song always gets aired when they are on top.

Pochettino changed it around.

Carney Chukwuemeka for Caicedo.

Raheem Sterling for Mudryk.

Then Trevoh Chalobah for Disasi.

Onana continued to thwart us. What had happened to the woeful ‘keeper of the first few months of his United career? An angled shot from Palmer blazed over.

The final fifteen minutes was an increasingly odd period. We attempted to find gaps, and Enzo tried to create openings out of nothing. His prods into players helped keep the pressure on.

The United fans were in full voice.

“Red army! Red army!”

This was met with some Chelsea boos, but I soon realised that this was aimed at Mason Mount who was preparing to replace the impressive Garnacho on the far touchline. If I was honest, I was hoping that Mount would not play.

I didn’t boo. Why would I? Although the volume of boos was loud – and it surprised me – I looked around and behind me and I could not see anyone booing in our section. One suspects, if everyone had been booing, the noise would have been stratospheric.

Thanks for Porto, Mason. But you were shite last season, all of it, and that’s it, it’s over. He managed to get into a little spat straight away.

On the eighty-ninth minute, the last throw of the dice and Noni Madueke replaced Gallagher. I struggled to work out the formation, but we kept going.

“Come on Chelsea. Come on Chelsea. Come on Chelsea. Come on Chelsea.”

Ten minutes of extra time were displayed.

We kept plugging away.

I turned to Clive.

“We’ll score.”

Injury time continued. Sterling and Madueke tried their best. The game was being played out in the United defensive third in front of us.

The time ticked by.

With three minutes to go, we seemed to have run out of steam, and both Clive and I agreed that it looked a lost cause.

Clive left, as had Albert, who sits right in front of me, a few minutes earlier.

Then, a late and forceful run by Madueke the substitute. He drove at the United box and we gulped in the night air. It was already way past 10pm. He ran and run, and was clipped by Dalot. We gulped some more.

…thinking : “looked like a penalty.”

The referee pointed at the spot.

Then, surprise surprise, the inevitable VAR interaction.

We waited. The United players stood around the referee. There was a commotion.

We waited some more.

I had walked a few steps to my left, down to the front of the MHU for a better view.

This was so tense.

Penalty.

I did not cheer.

I took a few photos of Palmer as he waited to strike. Alas, the photo of the strike is too blurred to share here.

Palmer struck.

Low to Onana’s left.

Goal.

Bedlam.

Fucking bedlam.

I snapped as the scorer raced away, but the stand was trembling so much that all of the photos are magnificently blurred

Chelsea 3 Manchester United 3.

Fackinell.

I immediately thought of Clive, poor Clive.

I walked back up to my place alongside PD. I patted him on the back and we hugged.

“Bloody hell mate.”

After the re-start, United attacked – so much for killing the game, oh well, they are the great entertainers – and we won the ball back in our half. A flick from Enzo to Sterling, a touch to Madueke, who kept the ball well despite being hounded by three red shirts. He pushed the ball to Jackson who played in Sterling. There was a prod into the box. The low cross was cleared, but only to Cucarella. He passed to Chukwuemeka who shaped his body well. A curling shot, deflected, the ball just missing the frame of the goal. We grimaced.

But a corner.

I had taken ten photos of this move which had taken fifteen seconds to unfold. I was waiting for that one magical moment to capture for eternity.

Was there even time for a corner?

Our hearts were racing.

I flipped my camera up to The Shed to take a photo of the Jacksonville Three. Their cameras were posed too.

A short corner on the far side. Cole Palmer, unexpectedly free, received the ball from Enzo.

He took a touch.

I snapped.

He shot.

The ball deflected off Scott McTominay.

The net rippled once more.

Stamford Bridge erupted.

Chelsea 4 Manchester United 3.

My shot is blurred but I have to share it here.

I had just witnessed pure theatre, pure emotion. It was a moment that I will remember for years and years.

My head exploded.

Such joy.

Such ridiculous joy.

Such raucous joy.

For a few moments we all lost it.

“One Step Beyond” segued into “Freed from Desire” and then into a dancey version of “Three Little Birds.”

We all made arses of ourselves.

It was 10.20pm in SW6.

I quickly tried to think of a game at Stamford Bridge that had witnessed such a phenomenally quick – one minute and nineteen seconds I think – turnaround.

Not in my eight-hundred-and-sixty-six games anyway.

I certainly remembered the very late Wiliam Gallas screamer against Tottenham in 2006 that probably engineered similar feelings of joy, but there had never been anything like this.

Fackinell.

Game number eighty-two wasn’t so bad after all, eh?

We walked back to the car.

The night did not want to end. We had heard of the M4 being shut, so I diverted down to the M3. Then, that was shut, so we diverted onto the A322 to the M4 but then we were forced down onto the A4, the old Roman road.

I was philosophical.

“Not getting too downhearted about this late night, mate. Millions of Chelsea fans around the world would love to be in this car after what we have just witnessed.”

I reached Melksham just before 1.30am, and I eventually made it home at 1.50am. I would eventually fall asleep, after sharing the usual smattering of late night photos, at 3am.

4.45am to 3.00am, oh Chelsea we love you.

Chelsea vs. Burnley

Our last game against Leicester City seemed such a long time ago. In the meantime, there had been an international break, involving games that I almost completely ignored, an entertaining Frome Town away game, but also some very sad news.

At that Leicester City FA Cup game, as the match began, I had found it hard to concentrate. I didn’t draw attention to it in my match report that would follow, but Ron Harris did not travel up with us in my car for this game. During the preceding day, the Saturday, Ron’s daughter Claire had contacted me to say that Ron’s wife Lee had suffered a couple of strokes. That weekend took on a strange feel; throughout it, my thoughts were not far from Ron and his family.

Sadly, we were to learn that Lee passed away in the early evening of Monday 18 March.

Despite the sadness of the loss, Ron was keen to get back into his routine of attending games at Stamford Bridge, so it was lovely to be able to collect him at 7am for the league game with Burnley. We made our way up to London and we tried our best to get back into our own match day routines. Unfortunately, Parky was unable to join us on this occasion. He had a swollen ankle and couldn’t get his shoes on. His place was taken by Glenn, although he did not have a ticket for the game. Instead, he volunteered himself to chaperone Ron around for the day, from various parts of the stadium, and to be on call if he was needed; a very fine gesture.

I made ridiculously good time. I dropped PD near “The Eight Bells”, then I deposited Ron and Glenn outside the main gates before parking up. All this completed by 9.15am.

I trotted down the North End Road, stopped for a breakfast, then had a little chat with Marco and Neil at the “CFCUK” stall. I then disappeared down the steps at Fulham Broadway to catch the District Line to Putney Bridge station. It was the day of the Boat Race, and the busiest that I had ever seen the station at that time on a Saturday morning. Thankfully, none of the fellow passengers were headed for the “Eight Bells” which was resolutely and solidly Chelsea on this first Spring-like day of the year.

Ollie from Normandy was with us again – always a pleasure to see him – and we were also joined by a friend who first met Parky and yours truly at a Chelsea vs. Birmingham City game in April 2011. Mike was living in Seattle in those days, but has been living in Regensburg in Germany for two years or so. It was super to see him again. Back in 2011, I was able to search out three tickets for him, his fiancée and a friend. On this occasion, he had to go solo and had to pay through his nose for a West View ticket.

I toasted my friendship with PD which would soon be forty years in length; I famously met him in a train on the way back from the infamous 3-3 draw at Ninian Park on 31 March 1984.

Towards the end of our three hours or so in the pub, we were joined by Dave – from Swindon – and his Chelsea-mad daughter Aimee – now living in Los Angeles – and we enjoyed a good natter. Dave has recently started reading the blog and wanted to say “hello” and I think PD got a kick out of this stranger knowing who he was.

“Where’s Parky?”

“Oh – he can’t make it. His hand is swollen and he can’t get it in his pocket for his wallet.”

We were later than usual leaving the pub. I didn’t get to my seat until 2.57pm.

Good job I work in logistics.

There was a quick check on our team; Mudryk and Badiashile were in.

Petrovic

Gusto – Disasi – Badiashile – Cucarella

Caicedo – Fernandez

Palmer – Gallagher – Mudryk

Jackson

The game kicked-off at 3pm. However, there was another game kicking off at 3pm that would be on my mind too. My other footballing love, Frome Town, were at home to Bideford in a reverse of the fixture that I saw three weeks ago.

To be truthful, there was a part of me that wished that I could defeat the laws of physics and attend both of the day’s games at the same time. Last weekend, I drove up and over the beautiful Cotswolds to see Frome Town play at Evesham United. The visitors raced into a 2-0 lead in the first-half with two goals from Kane Simpson. It was an odd half, badly affected by gusts of wind and a bumpy pitch, and we were rather lucky to be 2-0 up. The second-half was a tight affair, but a better quality game with the wind less of an issue. Simpson scored his hat-trick and we held on to win 3-2. Sadly, the league leaders Wimborne scored a late winner in their game to remain top.

A possible season-defining visit to Wimborne sadly takes place on the same day that Chelsea are at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final, so I am rather annoyed that I will be missing that key game. However, our final league game of the season takes place in Frome against Bristol Manor Farm a week later on Saturday 27 April. On the same day, Chelsea play at Villa Park at 8pm. On the drive to London, I warned PD that I might be attending both games. Watch this space.

Back to London SW6.

I remember a Burnley away game from a few years ago, and making the point that most of the Burnley players had traditional Anglo-Saxon names, the team seemingly unaffected by the influx of foreign football players. The game in question was from 2016/17, that freezing cold afternoon, when the town of Burnley made an even bigger and bolder attempt to be the most Northern football town of them all.

That team?

Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd, Barton, Westwood, Brady, Barnes, Gray.

Was the 2023/24 model still containing traditional names, maybe traditionally Northern names, as before? Who was playing?

Bobby Crumpet? Alf Glossop? Eddie Vimto? Sid Clackett? Burt Blenkinsopp? Kevin Sludge?

No, Burnley has now officially entered the twenty-first century. Their team now contains such exotic names as Arijanet Muric, Lorenz Assignon, Vitinho, Jacob Bruun-Larsen, Wilson Odobert and Zeki Amdouni.

The club even threw us a curve-ball. On the bench was the much-travelled and exotically named Jay Rodriguez. But he was born in Burnley.

What the chuffing heck is going on?

Over in the far corner, around one thousand away supporters had travelled down from Lancashire to cheer on those Burnley players. However, their yellow shirts with a vertical stripe over the heart, combined with dark shorts and yellow socks, reminded way too much of Barcelona’s visit in 2008/9 and Iniesta, bloody Iniesta.

Gulp.

The game began and Burnley had the best of the opening few minutes. But we then came into the match enjoying a few efforts on goal. Our first real chance came from the boot of Enzo Fernandez, but his shot was incredibly well saved by Muric after taking a wicked deflection off a Burnley defender. There was then a fine save from Djordje Petrovic in front of the Matthew Harding.

Cole Palmer had four early shots on goal.

“Don’t mind that Al. At least he shoots. So many don’t.”

Nicolas Jackson was magnificently played in by Palmer but his dribble took him too close to the ‘keeper and the shot went awry.

Overhead there were few clouds, and the sun cast some strong shadows for what seemed the first time in months. The atmosphere was, of course, rather tepid. We couldn’t even rely on a noisy away following to generate some melodies that we would then steal for our own songs.

On twenty minutes, Mykhailo Mudryk sent in a cross that Axel Disasi prodded home. There was a delay, a predictable delay, for VAR to throw its murky shadow on the game. As Alan alongside me commented “if the mistake is clear and obvious, why is it taking so long to sort out?”

I felt my joy for football leave my soul with every passing second.

After a minute or so, VAR spoke. No penalty. Handball.

In Somerset, Frome were 1-0 up.

You beauty.

At Stamford Bridge, the game meandered on, with not a great deal of quality on show. On thirty-five minutes, a lightning move, stretched out wide on the right to Jackson, eventually gave Mudryk a chance but his shot was central and poor.

Meanwhile, Frome had gone 2-0 up and then 3-0 up.

Superb.

I whispered to Alan : “I dread getting to half-time because there are bound to be some boos.”

With a couple of minutes of the first-half remaining, Mudryk was upended by Assignon and the referee signalled a penalty. But VAR had to push its unwanted snout into the game again. Another delay.

Penalty.

It was Assignon’s second yellow so off he went. The Burnley manager Vincent Company was then given his marching orders in the resulting melee in the technical area. Palmer sent the ‘keeper to his right as he delivered a cheeky and crafty “Panenka” to give us a deserved lead.

Chelsea 1 Burnley 0.

Once the celebrations had finished, I checked my ‘phone.

Frome were 4-0 up.

Love it.

At the half-time whistle, I detected a few boos from the bowels of the Matthew Harding Lower.

I give up.

Going in to the game, without really broadcasting it too loudly, I certainly expected us to win against a team that had been haunted with relegation all season long. But although it hadn’t been a great watch, we were winning and could have scored more. With Burnley down to ten men, I hoped for more success in the second-half.

Oh boy. Our old problem of conceding early in the second-half resurfaced again. Just two minutes in, a ball from the right was knocked back into the path of Josh Cullen who took a swing – “fuck off!” – and the ball few into the net, Petrovic stranded. All our defenders appeared to be ball-watching. They were loitering like nervous teenagers at a youth club disco, unsure of how to interact with anyone.

It was a horrible goal to concede.

Chelsea 1 Burnley 1.

The team needed some backing from the home crowd but the response was virtually non-existent. With each passing minute, with Chelsea labouring to break through a packed defence, frustrations rose. However, our finishing was as collectively poor as I can ever remember. I don’t honestly think I can recollect as many shots that ended up being ballooned high over the crossbar. This affliction that had started in the first-half continued with increasing regularity throughout the second-half. It was horrible to watch.

On sixty-two minutes, after another high shot into the MHU, this time from Conor Gallagher. It was Gallagher’s worst game of the season. He was duly replaced by Noni Madueke.

We were now playing with three dribblers; Mudryk, Palmer, Madueke. I called them “wingers” for poetic effect.

Mudryk was trying his best to dance in and create but he was flummoxed by the lack of space. He was irritating PD and after a vigorous verbal attack on the Ukrainian, I leant forward and looked over at PD just as the five people sitting past him did exactly the same. At least he didn’t boo Mudryk.

But this was frustrating stuff.

On seventy-three minutes, the equally poor Moises Caicedo was replaced by Raheem Sterling. It was pleasing to hear applause for Sterling.

I looked over to PD and beyond.

“Four wingers!”

This mess of a game continued.

Shots wide, shots high, shots blocked.

The frustrations rose.

With a quarter of an hour to go, I made a mental note of the first “Carefree” of the entire game.

A minute or so later, Cath got going with a shrill “Zigger Zagger” down below and the crowd nearby responded.

“OI OI OI.”

On seventy-eight minutes, a fine move was enjoyed by us all. Palmer advanced and played the ball to Cucarella. He passed back to Enzo who had spotted Sterling on the edge of the box. A deft flick, not unlike the Palmer to Chukwuemeka flick against Leicester City, played in Palmer. He drilled the ball low across Muric into the net.

NOISE!

The scorer kindly ran towards The Sleepy Hollow where my camera was waiting.

Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap.

Sterling came in for a lot of love from his team mates and quite rightly. His flick was pure poetry. Axel Disasi faced the Matthew Harding and stabbed a pointing finger at Raheem.

Chelsea 2 Burnley 1.

Sadly, just two minutes later, a corner from Parkyville, and a free-jump at the near post for Dara O’Shea and the ball had too much velocity for Petrovic to parry. The ball seemed to go right through him.

Fackinell.

Chelsea 2 Burnley 2.

Alfie Gilchrist replaced Gusto late on. We had two last-ditch efforts. A shot from Noni Madueke rustled the near post netting, with half of the MHL celebrating. Then, a really intelligent run from Sterling to meet a beautiful dink from Palmer, but he got underneath the ball, and we groaned as it flew over the crossbar like so many other efforts.

Down in Frome, the game had finished with a fine 4-0 win in front of a very decent gate of 615.

Bizarrely, there was almost a late Iniesta moment via Jay Rodriguez, who had appeared as a second-half sub for Burnley. From a corner, his powerful header smashed against the post, but he could not convert the rebound.

There were the inevitable boos at the final whistle.

We sloped out, dispirited and disconsolate. The team is such a very long way from where it hopes to be. I still think, as I always have, that we will finish in tenth place this season.

Next up, Melksham Town vs. Frome Town on Monday and Chelsea vs. Manchester United on Thursday.

See you at one or the other.