Three months ago, I was wondering whether I would give this year’s season review DVD a miss.
It was a pretty serious consideration for me at the time as I have collected all of the season reviews since they first came out in the format in 2002 along with a few other Chelsea-related titles that sit proudly on the top shelf of my DVD cabinet.
But after the abject displays and results against Birmingham, Napoli and West Brom, I had to ask myself if I really wanted to watch those games again. Or worse, remind myself of the game at QPR that we should not have lost despite playing with only nine men for most of the game.
Needless to say, it really isn’t a consideration anymore for me (or just about any Chelsea fan for that matter) after what has transpired since March and I am eagerly looking forward to the release of the new DVD on June 26.
I know that my first viewing will probably involve skipping through the first six months to the juicy bits at the end – the Napoli comeback, the 5-1 destruction of Spurs, the 6-1 annihilation of QPR and the magnificent backs-to-the-wall displays against Barca, not to mention, of course, the two finals.
Those highlights will certainly get plenty of repeated viewing but I’ll (eventually) watch the rest of it because you can’t really get the gist of how dramatic a season it was by viewing only the good stuff and completely ignoring the narrative of what had happened beforehand. It would be like skipping straight to the destruction of the Death Star without watching the rest of Star Wars.
Having said that, the victory over Bayern has allowed me to finally confront my painful memories of the 2008 Champions League Final.
It was my second worst experience as a Chelsea fan (the 1988 play-off against Middlesbrough takes a lot of beating) and it left me numb for days afterwards. After switching off the TV as soon as Anelka’s penalty was saved, I didn’t want to watch or read anything about the game. And I certainly didn’t want to get the season review at that point
But I eventually relented and got the DVD (not in June but in November, mind you) and watched most of it. Admittedly, it was very well produced (certainly better than the woeful 2007 effort when the production company completely left out all of the FA Cup highlights before the final) but it was pretty painful to watch us concede the late equalisers against Everton, Villa, Spurs, Wigan and Bolton that ultimately cost us the league by two points.
As for the game in Moscow, I sat through all of the highlights until the end of extra time. And then I turned it off and put the disc back on the shelf.
It remained there, largely unwatched, for much of the next four years. But after the events of May 19, it took on a different resonance and I took it out again a week later and watched the shootout through to the end for the first time since that dreadful night.
But now, it was no longer the tragedy that it had seemed to be on May 21, 2008. Instead, it was simply a setback and part of a much longer narrative (or a saga, if you like). One that encompassed so many other disappointments in the competition over the past decade which only we, as Chelsea fans, could truly appreciate.
Perhaps we should have won the Champions League sooner – much sooner. But those past failures only made it that much sweeter when we finally saw Chelsea lift the Cup in Munich.
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