I’ve been a soccer fan for a few years now and have followed Chelsea for that same amount of time. I have always considered myself one of the Chelsea faithful but have not been so convinced of that fact until today.
Growing up around sports I find it is easy to follow your team when the going is good and the wins are easy. Living in L.A. I may have become a Dodgers and Lakers fan regardless of winning percentage. But the fact that my developmental years were spent watching around the back passes from Magic to Worthy and shutout innings being thrown by Orel Hershiser made it easier to fall in love with those teams.
Yet you never feel quite complete as a fan until your team loses a big game. You never truly understand what the rooting did to you emotionally and physically. You back a team through the thick and stick with them through the thin because that is your conviction and that is who you choose to trust. When the people you trust break your heart you know you are invested for life.
I remember 1989 and the Piston’s sweep of the Lakers in the finals. Being nine at the time I don’t mind telling you I cried that night. I remember the ineptitude of the early ninety Dodgers teams. They had me holding onto the dream that we could repeat the miracle of ’88.
At almost thirty years old, I had the same experience yet again. Nil-nil going into today’s second leg semi-final, Chelsea lost in injury time to Barcelona. They finished ninety minutes as the assured finalists in this years Champions League final match. They came within a minute and a half of completing something worthwhile to a lackluster season. As does happen so often in sport. The unexpected happenened.
Barcelona scored with little time left in injury time allowing them to go ahead in the tie breaker scenario. When Iniesta connected with the ball my heartbroke. In so many of these events in my life. I know when the inevitable is about to happen. As the ball swept passed Cech’s outstretched arm I buried my head in my hands in disgust.
I can take refuge in the fact that I am part of a faithful of Chelsea fan that felt the same way today. I can take soalce in the fact that we will have no alternative but wait until next season to root again. I can take pride in the fact that there is nothing more I can do about the pain. I am a Chelsea fan after all.