The karma gods were shining on us as my friend Jane (four days prior), had just moved to London from her home in South Africa. We used to work together on Maui and it had been seven years since we'd seen each other, I think it's safe to say only she has aged!
Meanwhile, (when in Rome) Jules and I were determined to see a footy match and as luck would have it Chelsea V QPR were playing in the Carling Cup. While we couldn't get decent tickets on line, we went with the high intention of scalping good seats, which we did. The elderly chap who sold us our contraband not only got his cash but grateful kisses (he warned Jules not to slip him the tongue) and we joined the heaving masses to watch the beautiful game.
A couple of things struck me. Stamford Bridge holds 42,500 people, but if we hadn't glanced to our left whilst going to dinner the night before, you wouldn't even know a stadium was there. No signs, no shops selling merchandise, no indication in the tube station and I loved that lack of advertising. Upon exiting Fulham Broardway station on game night the contrast to the previous evening was insane. Streets were blocked off, police were everywhere in riot gear and on horse back and yet, one block off the main drag we stood and drank a beer and short of peeps wearing Chelsea kit, you wouldn't even know a game was on.
Inside it was a sea of testosterone, fueled by passion and rivalry. I felt the need of a hymn sheet as the singing was non stop, coupled with humorous gesticular goading. Waaaaaaay fun and with the lure at half time of a pie and a pint for six quid, the experience just kept getting better. Oh....and not to mention the ladies loo was not only empty but had Dyson airblades, bloody luxury!
We stayed until the final whistle and figured the journey home would be interesting (to say the least). In a exiting wave of people we surfed down to the tube and squashed ourselves on to the first train which arrived in minutes. We stood armpit to armpit with other library quiet, civilized and extremely well behaved fans and then changed lines at a heavily policed Earls Court. Our next train also arrived within minutes and was half empty and to our total astonishment we found ourselves putting the key in our front door not 15 minutes after leaving the stadium. The staggeringly well organized crowd control that gave me hope the Olympics won't be a complete balls up (no pun intended).