Without resurrecting the, ‘When does a new decade begin?’ debate that raged at the turn of the millennium (or a year early, depending on your point of view), I guess some people considered last week the end of the first decade of the new century. Coincidentally I’ve been in a reflective mood as well recently.
My mum bought me The George Best Collection DVD box-set and that put me in a nostalgic funk, even if some of the Belfast Boy’s most mercurial moments – and his favourite all-time goal in fact – came against the Blues. My wife meanwhile got me the book Decade, the follow-up to Century, which features photos highlighting the major news stories from the last ten years. Us clinching the Premiership in April 2005 takes up a page.
So I was thinking: Has there ever been a more momentous decade for any football club in history? A ten-year span which was as tumultuous and action-packed as what we’ve just experienced as Blues supporters?
I don’t mean using the number of trophies won as a benchmark. Manchester United swept all before them in the nineties and won the Double and the European Cup and were without peer domestically. Liverpool had a similar spell before that, and of course there was Real Madrid and their string of European victories in the fifties. But they were all success built on success, whilst our stratospheric rise came (more or less) from out of the blue.
What I’m talking about is the absolute sea shift, the “game changer” as they say in the States, when Roman brought the team. Literally overnight being a Chelsea fan radically altered. Sure we were a good side when he arrived and had won a few cups and made a decent fist of challenging for the title a couple of times. But even us long time optimistic supporters knew we were never going to win the league, never mind the cup with the big ears.
But suddenly we were buying everyone in sight, attracting world-class players and coaches and kicking in the door to grab a seat at the very top table of world football. Recall life then and it really was unprecedented. Sure Manchester City are doing it now – and no doubt another owner will come in somewhere and do it again – but it will never have the same impact it did that first time.
Think what it’s been like. We won the league and then defended it. We clinched every domestic trophy, we were a penalty kick away from lifting the Champions League, we had top class managers come and go, and more European drama than a 24-hour Fellini, Bergman and Polanski marathon. It hasn’t been boring, though I would have been delighted if December had featured a series of extremely boring 1-0 wins.
The only comparable period I can think of would be what happened to Nottingham Forest in the late seventies. Then Brian Clough took them from being an anonymous Second Division club to being champions of England and then European Cup winners, a trophy they defended the following year. Totally unheard of before or since and it will never happen again: Not organically anyway, maybe if hundreds of millions of pounds are injected into Doncaster Rovers or something.
This time ten years ago I was a travel agent in Belfast freezing my way through an Ulster winter. Today I’m a stay-at-home dad in shorts and t-shirt on the other side of the world. A decade ago Chelsea were a good side fighting for a top-three finish but nobody had them favourites for the title.
Sometimes the more things change…
Please note : the views in many of our blogs are written by fans of Chelsea FC and are not necessarily the views of the club