1 Leg On The Cup: The 5th Round
Our friends Tony and Johnny have now made it through their FA Cup adventure all the way to the 5th Round. Here’s the latest update on their experience of Chelsea v Birmingham. We’ll keep you updated on their trip to the Second City for the upcoming replay…
Saturday 18th & 5th round day. 5am my alarm went off… 5am! What’s that all about? our train was leaving Manchester at 6.10am and i have to hope the big fella got to bed at a reasonable hour last night, he did & for 5.45 we’re on the platform with bigger bags under our eyes than the ones we were carrying! But cheap tickets mean shite train times and loads of different tickets so after the big fella had sorted out all the outward tickets we set off on time at 6.10.
There wasn’t that many people on the train and I managed to stay awake for the whole journey so the Rhino couldn’t take any photos of me sleeping! It only takes just over a couple of hours so for about half 8 we were once again in that London. I was in urgent need of a caffeine top-up so we went to a little hut just outside the station who boasted ‘the best coffee in the UK’ remembering a scene from the film ‘Elf’ i complimented the coffee seller on having such a prestigious product but it went right over his head & he just looked at me with a puzzled look on his face!… well it was a bit early i suppose.
Onward to the tube network and there was a bit of maintenance work going on which had a knock on effect all over the network so all the trains were packed out with standing room only on most of them, standing room for normal people that is lol lol the further we went along the Victoria line, more & more people were squeezing their selves into the tiny space & as i was feeling like the proverbial sardine. I then hear the big fella’s voice from across a crowded train…. “Tony, i shouldn’t of had that curry last night, my arse is rank!” suddenly there was lots of room in the compartment and we got off with ease at Victoria to find somewhere open for the first beer of the day & make sure i had remembered the match tickets!
We spent about an hour in the pub just outside Victoria station before get back on the tube to Earls Court. “that wiring is worse than mine at the back of the TV” looking across the platform to where the Rhino was pointing i remembered a TV programme i had watched last week about the underground being run on a wing & a prayer and with the mass overcrowding today this spaghetti wiring just made me even more nervous!
We got to Fulham Broadway for about 11-ish, perfect timing for a couple of beers before kickoff and we fell into the nearest pub. £4.30 for a pint of flat beer had the Rhino retching with disgust and tells me if we get drawn in that London again we will bring our own beer & sit on a park bench
The barman offers the Rhino a choice of Fosters or Heineken and after looking at the pints of both that people were already drinking & he tells the barman “it’s a bit like asking which sexual disease do i want?” lol lol it’s a bit of a Northern thing when it comes to beer down south!
We ‘mingled’ with a few of the Chelsea fans and asked them for predictions for today’s game, 3-0 & 3-1 were the popular results predicted by the faithful with lots of them adding that today’s game would be the kick-start their season needed to get back into winning ways. None of them predicted anything other than a home win.
Right in the corner of the pub & close to the door we met 3 Brummie’s who were down for the game. Carol, Dave & Steve were of the same opinion about the beer and Dave was well qualified to comment as he’s a pub landlord back in Brum! “you could very well be my new best friend if this goes to a replay” the big man tells him on finding out this information.
The 3 of them all said they would be happy with a draw on the day & were confident of doing the job back at St. Andrews with a stronger team and home advantage, so for the first time on this road to Wembley, after panicking on the terraces in previous games at 1-0 with 5 minutes left, the Rhino actually wanted us to need a replay! lol lol nothing at all to do with the fact that Dave had told him “i’ll look after you guys at my place” moments before!
Off down the Fulham Rd. with 20 mins to go until kickoff. We follow the crowd & turn the corner to get our first view of Stamford Bridge, we make our way to gate 7 to find a huge que all lining up for the same gate, if we joined this que we would probably miss the start so i found a steward & played the ‘1 legged card’ and he let us go in through the disabled entrance one i proved my missing limb & told him i needed the Rhino with me for ‘support’….. lol nice! It was a good job too as we could hear the ‘Liquidator’ tune by Harry J Allstars playing with the home fans chant of ‘Chel-Sea’ thrown in at the appropriate moment meaning the teams were coming out.
Step 12 gets underway and the atmosphere is buzzing, probably the best we’ve come across to date, the Brummies were playing their part as well away to our right & they had already began the ‘sacked in the morning’ song at AVB lol you have to love good banter. The shed was also in full voice with a song prompting you stand up if you didn’t care for Tottenham that much for some reason but it all added to the day for us.
Chelsea were attacking the goal to our right and didn’t really get off to a flyer, all a bit too slow & indecisive apart from Ivanovic who had lots of room on the right to get forward and feed Torres & Sturridge. City were making the most of Chelsea not turning up and on 20 minutes David Murphy smashed the ball home to give the visitors the lead after Chelsea had failed to clear from a corner! 0-1. The Brummie fans went mental & were still celebrating when Wade Elliot brought down Ramires in the box and Mr. Atkinson pointed to the spot. Juan Mata stepped up to take the kick & it was a bit far away for me to video but i did my best and left the camera running on the away fans as Colin Doyle saved.
Chelsea did pick the pace up as the half went on, Luiz had a 20+ yard free kick saved & Sturridge hit a sweet volley that went just wide but City were holding on. The first 45 came to an end and the home fans were booing! Not only that we could hear a certain chosen one’s name being chanted from parts of the ground… oh dear, was this to be our cup upset? Could Chelsea get beat at home by lower league opposition? We went for a pie while we thought about it & my beer monster pal reviews our half time treats as ever on the pie-ometer page. HT. 0-1.
The second half is about to start & Torres is off for Drogba! This seemed a strange move from our point of view, nothing wrong with bringing the hit-man on but why take off Torres if you’re a goal down in a cup game? But what do i know, i didn’t see much of Torres in the first half anyway. Kalou was also on for Mikel for the re-start & after a quick check he had brought all his tackle with him he was good to go!
We decided to watch the second half in 3D! We had heard so much about how football is so much better when you watch it in 3D we just had to find out for ourselves. I still had the glasses in my pocket from the Star Wars film i had been to see recently & It doesn’t make it any better at all if you ask me! if anything it just makes everything darker so we ditched the idea & went back to analogue.
Birmingham’s packed midfield were doing their job breaking down anything Chelsea was trying to conger up & Adam Rooney’s constant running up front was impressive for the visitors to say the least. But the home side were growing stronger & just after the hour they got their breakthrough when Ivanovic delivered the perfect cross for Sturridge to head home. 1-1. We were now expecting City’s heads to drop & Chelsea to turn the heat up but it didn’t really happen, apart from an effort from Mata going wide and a Meireles shot was deflected over the bar the home side played like they would be happy with the draw! If anything Birmingham had the best chance to progress to the next round when Nathan Redmond went in on goal only to hit a soft side-footed shot that was easy for Cech to block. FT. 1-1.
We’re back in the pub on Fulham Rd. straight after the game for the lesser of the 2 evils we’re faced with. 1, over priced shite beer or 2, being squashed on a tube station platform waiting for a train on a disrupted service day. The Chelsea fans in the pub are not happy, as we talk to a few of them they reckon it should have been a nice easy game for them today winning comfortably & the conversation turns to the manager, everyone had varied opinions about AVB but when i asked if they would like to see Mourinho back in the dug-out ALL of them answered a very resounding ‘YES’ apart from one guy who suggested that Drogba is a perfect candidate to be a player-manager! Hell, why not? I’ve not seen one of them for a while, the guy also wanted Ray Wilkins back as his No. 2 also. Would that be the shakeup Chelsea need? Ya never know….
We’ve got a few hours to kill because our train home isn’t until 7.40. (Seems like a while since we had an overnight trip) so we go to a pub closer to Euston to watch the other results come in and wait for the Sunderland game on TV. The barman at the George was a Gooner and he wasn’t that impressed when i told him i wanted Sunderland to win so we made a quick exit at full time!
A few rowdy Bolton fans on their way back from Millwall were on the train but i suppose they don’t have that much to be happy about these days & it was only for a couple of hours. Our lift let us down at the last minute so we had to get a taxi back to the Sweaty Spaniard and we got our first Real beer of the day about half 10 and it looked even better in 3D!
A feast of football on Sunday along with the quarter final draw on the TV. Another home draw for us but we have to find out who we’re with first! Off to St. Andrews on Tuesday the 6th March & then either back to Brum again, or the Bridge on the 17th for Leicester City. So it looks like Chadderton, our 1st game & it’s only about 5 mile away, will be the furthest North we travelled to on this journey as the semi’s & final are of course at Wembley, how mad is that! but the bigger question has to be ‘who will win it?’ the big boys are out, Spurs & Chelsea are struggling and with Arsenal now gone who knows?