I can recall clear enough, even though I was just ten at the time, the day my sister and her boyfriend returned home from a football match armed with a gigantic glossy poster of Chelsea Football Club. You know the type. The whole squad including the coaches, the reserves, the backroom staff and the management neatly arranged in three rows with the front row kneeling, the middle row somehow rising above them and the back row standing tall and proud. 

I'm sure that football clubs still produce those standard set piece posters, no doubt at ridiculously inflated prices for their globally marketed fan base. Anyway, it was a present for me, though I never thought to enquire on whose initiative the present materialised, the boyfriend or the sister. I don't ever recall my sister engaging in anything remotely resembling sisterly love so I guess it was down to the boyfriend. Either way, I loved that poster and even now, some forty four years later, I can name at least a half dozen of its star studded cast. Peter Bonnetti, Peter Osgood, Chopper Harris and his brother, Alan Hudson and the bloke with the amazing throw, Ian Hutchinson. There was a Dempsey and a Bobby Tambling I recall, but it all starts to fade after that. As for the manager, it was probably Tommy Docherty, though he may well of come on the Chelsea scene some years later.

Should I be eternally grateful for that poster or simply regard it as just another piece of ammunition in my life long feud with my elder sister. I can say without hesitation that it was that poster that hooked me into a lifetime of Chelsea addiction that even now, with all that I know about sport generally and Chelsea FC in particular, it is an addiction I am unable to break.

The point of all this, is the increasingly random nature of football affiliation. Long gone are the days of local families following their local team. Why a youngster in Indonesia or Thailand or Australia should choose to follow a Liverpool or a Man United or a Chelsea only the gods may know. And if not the gods, then the marketing department of these increasingly global conglomerates. And that is the unpalatable truth. Top flight football is just a commodity with player loyalty increasingly to their obscenely fat pay packets. A player sitting on the bench may earn more in a week than a nurse may earn in five years. Where is the humanity in that. And where does the money to pay such morally corrupting amounts come from. In the case of my beloved Chelsea, the case against is very compelling. The trail goes all the way back to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the privatisation of their once nationalised resources by a process commonly referred to as gangster capitalism. Workers in each of the former State industries were given shares at the time of privatisation but the workers were hungry and you can't eat shares. Unscrupulous agents swapped food hampers for shares and before you could say Boris the shares had found their way into the hands of a handful of oligarchs. Get the picture. A lot of shooting also went on behind the scenes as a way of reinforcing the new political order. Russia today is still an extremely dangerous place for those that oppose the new status quo.

Yet knowing all this I still cannot break the addiction. When we lose I feel mortified. When we win I am euphoric. Getting the results is like a shot of caffeine in the morning. I need the hit to kick-start the day. I can be twelve thousand miles away in the Central Australian deserts yet still I hunger for results. I crave Champions League success. I yearn to be triumphant at Wembley. I pine for another Premier League title. And all the time knowing that I am complicit in a gigantic corporate scam with its tentacles reaching across the globe.

As it is for Chelsea Plc so it is for an increasing number of English clubs. US money, Arab money, East European money and even Thai gold. British Football up for sale to the highest bidder.

Things will get worse. Soon there will be no national football leagues worthy of the name. Only the Champions League will count. That may even involve a fixed number of teams with no promotion or relegation. Some of the big clubs are already pushing in this direction. Corporate sponsors would love this scenario. So too would the big twenty European Clubs. Financial security guaranteed for life. Yet still I will follow my beloved Chelsea. Can anyone out there help me with this crippling addiction. I need help.


Last Updated ( Sunday, 27 May 2018 15:26 )