Saturday, February 10, 2007

Chelsea, Chelsea

I was a small, full of curiosity young boy when my father first took me to the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur every week to watch Selangor played in the premier league games. Back then, the historic stadium was the home ground for the Red Giants of Malaysia. When the Saturday sun disappeared, I was so eager in looking forward to go to the stadium. My father never failed to disappoint me. I held my father's hand tight, as we walked in tandem of waves among the sea of people, the spirit was undescribable as parents held their children, notorious youths chanted the slogan of the team and we even sang the theme of Selangor towards the entrance. I could also remember how energetic my father was, and there was an incident one night when my father accidentally stepped into the drain and luckily he just suffered minor injuries. Even though I could see the blood running down on my father's ankle, his thrumpet of football never fade away. Deep in my heart, I always felt so passionate as the sea of people wore the same colours red and yellow, somehow I could sense that football unites the people, no matter whether we are young or old, malays, chinese, or indians.
"Merah kuning lambang kebanggaan, Selangor melangkah ke kejayaan"; these lines echoing in my mind whenever I watch football.

Today, I made my journey towards Stamford Bridge. This time, I was alone. Without the hands of my father. However, I imagined his wisdom eyes and voice shadowing me along the way. Today I took the Fulham route to support my childhood team Chelsea playing against Middlesborough. Like a sudden one clap, I vividly remembered those times when I watched football with my father. I took a black cab as I wanted to catch the blues' atmosphere half an hour before the kick off. There was a short silence in the cab but I had expected the driver's random asking as I told him my destination; "Stamford Bridge". The silence was broken when he opened his mouth and these question was directed to me with a smile; "Are you going to watch the football mate?". I nodded and yes was my answer without hesitation. I heated up the conversation as the journey continued and he told me he supports Crystal Palace, the derby team of Chelsea. I told him that my parents are very worried about me watching football in England as during their time in the late 70's and early 80's hooligans and fightings could not be separated from English football. He turned back looking at me with a baby-smile, assuring me that there are no hooligans anymore. He told me during those times the hooligans would always planned a fight during football match and Chelsea's hooligans were called 'The Headhunters'. However, he explained to me like a father teaching his child a moral lesson that it was during those times only and I should not be afraid of their presence anymore. I told him that it costs me around 45 pounds for this ticket and he said it was not a surprise to him as most of Chelsea supporters are the posh people. That explained why the Chelsea fans nowadays are 'well-behaved' compared to others like Man United or Liverpool. He even told me his season tickets only costs him around 300 pounds.

As the cab made its way through the faceless crowd in Oxford Street, I asked him what does he think about London. He answered me personally, and honestly he said that in London money is everything. If you do not have money, you are nobody in the streets of London. I listened with a deep interest like Dr. Watson listening to the narrative of case by Sherlock Holmes. He has one boy and a daughter and he really wants his children to be brought up in Spain, he wants his children to speak bilingual language, he wants his children to have the non-British upbringing, and he always dream of a home situated in the countryside surrounded by the green scenic and above are the flying birds, where they can play on the grass breathing fresh air, compared to the fast-paced, hectic Londonophobia. I told him I am from Malaysia and asked whether he has been to Southeast Asia and he said no. However, he always dream to go to the Southeast Asia countries and explore the exotic environment, and he believes one day he will make it as his wife's brother now is living in Thailand. As we passed by Harrods, I asked him since he was small and now, what are the differences between London in the 70's and to the present time. He answered,

"London is much more safer now mate".

However, he dislikes the current Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and he said the mayor is mad, he was expressing it by showing a mad man sign of a spinning head. I laughed upon his expression. He told me,

"There are more rules and lots more to be implemented here, as if the mayor is trying to convince us his obsession towards crime. The fin' is those rules only aim to curb petty crimes, not serious crimes. Nuffin'!".

I agreed with him as I told him the recent news about the plan to install CCTV in every traffic light around London, further justifying his point that the mayor is obsessed towards crimes. As the cab strolled along Fulham Road, he drove the cab to a halt. There was a sea of people walking up ahead the road. He told me he could not drive me any further. Before I handed him the money, he asked me,

"Do you know Sex Pistol?"

"Yes, I do. Is it similar to The Ramones?"

"Yeah yeah mate. When I was young, I used to be a punk rock youth. Me and my mates used to sleep along this road, and yes, during those times it was not safe".

He grinned with a cunning smile faded by his old age. "Now, it is safe mate. You just walk along these people and Stamford Bridge is on your right side".

I got off from the cab, we bid farewell with an ironic element of introduction;

"I am Harry, nice to meet you".

"I am Sharazad, nice to meet you too".

"Shhhaa.... what?".

"Shaaa raaa zaad".


"Yes Harry, till we meet again, maybe somewhere along the streets in London." ;)

I stepped into the Chelsea ground. All of a sudden, I felt like I have been lifted to the cloud of nine, as the blues' passion of Jimmy Greaves, Ron 'Chopper' Harris, Peter Osgood, and Gianfranco Zola blew into my heartbeat.

Dear Fellow Chelsea Fan,

You may be aware of a campaign that is underway to get the Shed back to its heady singing days. The aim is to get noise from at least both ends of the ground and improve the atmosphere all around. Hopefully, today will see the campaign taking effect. Please get behind the team in any way you can.

To mark this effort, we would also like to bring back an old song that was sung in the Shed in the 60s. The song is "Strolling". It epitomises Chelsea; "Cool, Traditional, very London and Carefree". It's particularly suitable nowadays as we have to put up with all this tripe about being soulless and having no history.

In the old Shed days it was sung with your arms out stretched above your head. The CHELSEA chant at the end is the same as "10 men went to mow".

So here it is. Sing it with all you might, wherever you are in the ground, and let's roar the boys onto victory. Do it well and it can become our new (old) anthem!

"Strolling, just strolling
In the cool of the evening air
I don't envy the rich, in their automobiles,
For a motor car is phoney,
I'd rather have shank's pony!
Every night I go out strolling
And I know my luck is rolling
When I'm strolling with the one I love"

CHELSEA, clap clap clap, CHELSEA, clap clap clap
(Keep the CHELSEA chant going as long as you want)

And we won 3-0. Jose Mourinhoooooo, Jose Mourinhoooooooo.

It was the Chelsea day and I took the bus at Harrow Road towards Knightsbridge. Before I paid a visit to a friend of mine in Knightsbridge, I bought a dozen of Krispy Kreme doughnuts at Harrods. The cashier was totally friendly, and we made a short acknowledgement; he is from Colombia and I told him I am from Malaysia. I asked:


"No, quite far away from Bogota".

It is true what the recent survey revealed in The Independent newspaper, London now is the most cosmopolitan city in Europe. Middle Easterners and Eastern Europeans are increasingly making the bulk of the proportion in the labour force. When you are on the red double-decker, it is like an informal multi-language class in the heart of London. Name it; Greek, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and even the languages of the eastern Europeans.

I arrived at Nottingham around quarter to ten at night, and I shook hand with a man whom I helped to find his seat on the train before I got off from the train. A simple greeting "You're alright mate?" with a courtesy of smile to a stranger, never fail to tie a bond of friendship albeit I will never meet the stranger again.

Teppan rice and toriyaki was my late dinner at Skinny Sumo Restaurant. I sat beside the glass wall which I could see the people walking arms to arms, battling the cold weather to satisfy the tempation to have fun and go out drinking on Saturday night. Out of the blue, there was a bunch of men dressed-up like pirates knocked on the glass wall and trying their Rum Rum skills to scare me. I was smiling like mad and not to miss this unexpected pirates of the caribbeans wannabes, I hold up my forefinger asking them to wait as I took a photo of them. They were so happily lost in happiness, and they entered the restaurant making the other guests surprised as they told me,

"You're awesome mate!!!".

I just laughed at them. Shaking hands ended the night.

A simple lesson that I learned in this English land, greetings and manners.

Whenever my feet step into the foreign land,

I smile, and speak the language of its people - Sharazad

ps: I saw this banner "Cyprus Blues FC" in the stadium. Hmm... kala kala. Efharisto (Good good. Thank you in Greek). Courtesy of an informal teaching by my university mate, Nayia Nicolaou ;)


Anonymous said...

just dropping by to say that ur mother was touched, and ur dad had tears in his wisdom eyes when he read this. Oh, and also to say that Kak Juju read ur blog and was impressed. But, she said u might have to tone down on the vocabulary. Not all of us study in Notts, u noe. ;-p

munirah18 said...

Been there. Done that. Eyeing for another game before summer. Chelsea is the ONE!

Anonymous said...

wow.. nice,lahh sharazad.. :) :) :)