The lazy, mustard on your tie, old-styled media journeymen pump out stereotypes about Russian men being harsh and full of hubris. To be fair, the state sponsored fake-hooligans who were all sober ex-military types and who executed Operation ‘Bash Drunken Englishmen’ at the last World Cup didn’t help their image much. It’s probably Russian crudeness that puts people off. But growing up in tough poverty in -40 temperatures may make one a little grumpy and intolerant at times. No time for platitudes when you’re freezing your nuts off. Brief salutation, one quick vodka shot ‘’Bawe’’ and see’ya later.
But Roman, Our Roman, who looks down on us from his exalted perch with that big Cheshire cat grin when we are ‘going bloody mental’. No one can tell me he is in that Russian mould any more than Suggsy is. Maybe, one time long ago, but not now. His kindness to those not his kin may currently only be reserved for those clad in Royal Blue but its glow is peeking through the gaps. He is the Overlord of two Provinces now – one in the remote Russian lands up near the Bering Sea and one in SW6 that stretches out beyond Surrey and Sussex and down through Hampshire.
Chelsea being in Russian hands has become a cosy place to be – The unfairly maligned Bates did a proper job for us – He swatted away the grubby little hands of greedy developers and set us on a path to safety. Harding was one of us and we trusted he would have done the right thing. But Roman has built that trust – he has earnt it the hard way. His stewardship has faltered at times and questions have been raised but over time, like the best of relationships, we have grown comfortably into our roles. He deserves our adulation. Our respect.
One of the warmest memories I hold dear was seeing his boys unbridled joy when we lifted the Champions League Trophy for the first time. The opinion I formed watching that unravel aged me instantly – I thought to myself, ‘our future, the Blues future is secured’. One of those boys will one day ask their Dad to take over the reins at The Bridge. Where their father’s original intention for Chelsea was pure business, somewhere in the journey it was altered to caring and caring became passion and passion became love. His acumen weathered well down the years to ultimately become something even he couldn’t control. In contrast his boys, like me, discovered Chelsea at a tender age when you discover who your family are and who loves you and who you will love. Aunt Kate, Uncle Jack, Chelsea FC, Nanny Mary, Grandad Bill. Roman’s boys grew up with The Blues and it is in their blood. That will never change. They may get distracted and they may become super busy in the other Province but they will always return to their roots at SW6.
Chelsea fans are truly grateful for everything we receive. We remember back in the days of 2nd division with Dixon and Speedie all happy all joyous being led by the ‘middle of’ The Shed ‘‘knees-up mother brown’’. We remember the barbed wire fences and singing out to the North bank to do their job. We remember hard times fondly. And we are grateful for the success we now share in this new century with our friends along the Broadway. The Roman era has lifted our spirits even higher. And so, with the echoes of past glory’s and expectant future glory I salute Roman Abramovich for embracing us as his own. And, as the Russians say when they toast….. ‘May we always have a reason to party’.