Tangled Up In Blue - Last Night In London

Tangled Up In Blue - Last Night In London
By Hal LaRoux
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[Words - Rory Keenan]

This wasn't a footballing pub. And this certainly wasn’t West London. This was South. No top-flight football club down here. Poor transport links. Even the weather seems duller. Every reason under the ‘sun’ to begrudge the West Londoners even a pop at a Champions League Final.

Something peculiar was happening approaching half-time. Andres Iniesta found himself alone and isolated in the bar. The Barcelona fan in question, with the famous no.8’s name across the back of his replica shirt, had declared “So long Chelsea!” after his namesake had beaten Petr Cech. Under any other circumstances audible anti-Chelsea sentiment down here would be cheerily welcomed. Practically encouraged. This was South London. But it was met with an eerie silence. A kind of rejection by the masses.

It became clear that what was unfolding was an odd kind of Chelsea-charm-offensive. They were making us like them. Despite John Terry.

When Cech had practically escorted JT off the pitch, it was almost like he was taking the initiative to disbar the captain from the team. “You cant play with us anymore John. Please leave, we’ve work to do.”

Then Ramires did something Braziliany.


It was all very strange. Even Didier was a good boy. The challenge which bred the penalty was honest in intent, if a little clumsy. Messi had already missed two penalties this season alone and hadn’t scored against Chelsea in seven games. How English of him. The hysteria in this South London pub as his spot kick ricocheted off the bar defied geographical logic. It wasn’t so much that we were temporary converts, as it was we were fanatical converts. Including the United fans to my left. I'm a Villa fan, so have no cause to dislike anyone, just our own mediocrity. And even I was losing interest in the vital clash with Bolton.

I've watched and loved Barcelona for years, particularly the current stable of liquid footballers. I've been hypnotised by their exaction of movement, like the rest of us, on Sunday evenings. And watched Messi play with infinite juvenescence and refuse to grow into a man. But nothing was pleasing me more than seeing the hard bodies and iron-clads of Chelsea throw the Spanish cogs off axis.

It was a very precise, brilliantly executed destruction of beauty.


The only thing missing was Fernando Torres. Not last night, but for the last 18 months. And the only odd statistic left to lay down was that no Spaniard had scored against Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions League. My 2-2 aggregate bet with Paddy Power was looking good right up to the point Torres received the through-ball. I didn’t care. The pub went delirious. The South Londoners were genuinely over the moon for him. It almost made you wish his goal was actually the one to send Chelsea to the finals.

An odd, odd night. I don’t know if it was Roberto di Matteo’s endearing baby cheeks, which look like he’s chewing something, even on the rare occasions when he’s not chewing something. Or Raul Meireles’s face the moment he realised he’d have to wear a suit to the final, but the sense of goodwill towards Chelsea was palpable.

Jose Mourinho had said when the draw was made that Real Madrid would not be playing Chelsea in the finals. Be careful what you wish for, Bayern Munich may yet prove him right.


A bizarre night in South London. And Aston Villa are slip sliding away..

Rory Keenan is an Actor, recently seen in The Guard.

Find him on twitter here.


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