Our US-based blogger is hoping the Blues will be back Stateside soon having enjoyed the show in Boston last week…
Chelsea are back in England, and their Stateside fans have spent the last few days trickling back to their hometowns after descending on New England for Wednesday’s charity match.
Every time I see the Blues in the USA, I experience culture shock at the matchday experience. It’s been three years since our last visit to this side of the Pond, and I’d forgotten how different things are when you watch football here.
I’ve been to MLS fixtures all around the country in the last decade, but unless it’s a vital game or a derby, there’s not the same atmosphere or sense of event. Usually nothing immediate is riding on the result other than three points. But when the Londoners come to America – and I’ve missed very few contests in the last 15 years – it’s always a festive occasion.
And it’s not only Chelsea supporters who show up. At Gillette Stadium I spotted Arsenal shirts and Manchester United scarves and Manchester City jackets, among others. It would never happen at home – a spectator at the Bridge wearing a Liverpool top to watch us play Spurs.
But it’s not the only difference between the USA and the UK. The headquarters of the local Chelsea in America branch, the Boston Blues, is a 45-minute drive away from the stadium. On the day of the Final Whistle on Hate match, the buses left FIVE HOURS before kick-off!
The fans arrived more than four hours early so they partake in that most important and traditional of American past-times: tail-gating at the ballpark. The Boston Blues brought beer and hamburgers and hotdogs for their fellow fans and set up tents and grills in the car-park. For those of us who live in the sultry South it seemed a chilly and windy afternoon, but for these hardened Yankees, used to alfresco drinking and eating in the dead of winter during NFL season, it was perfect spring weather.
It’s something that’s never been part of the British football-watching culture. Supporters are more likely to squeeze every last minute out of their time in the pub, no matter the weather. The coaches left the ground an hour after the final whistle, meaning fans had been there more than seven hours. I’ve been going to professional games for more than 40 years and have never been at a ground that long!
With three years between visits, you have to make the most of it I guess. Hopefully it won’t be another three years before the Londoners are back in the States.