Chelsea was going to be a big one. With our goalkeeper, left back, and captain having all signed from Chelsea certain scores were bound to be settled. Additionally, with our number seven in a very serious relationship with their twenty-three, things were about to become interesting.
For once I didn’t have a 5 am start as I had managed to sweet talk Emma into giving me a lift. Foolishly she had let slip that she was at a house party In Manchester the night before and might be driving down to the game on Sunday, I took that might and turned it into a definite I mean how can you turn a London Derby down.
So that’s how I found myself waiting outside the Stockport Travelodge, looking very conspicuous on a cold November morning. Emma looked even less excited by the prospect but hey this road trip was going to be fun. Enforced fun, is the best kind of fun.
After having my second breakfast of the day ( I ate before I left but then Emma offered me food. Would be impolite to say no, my mother raised me right 😏.)
We were on our way. For once not on the M6 as we had decided the via Sheffield route would be more entertaining. My sanity was grateful for the change in scenery.
Travelling with Emma, compounded what I already knew. I missed travelling with people. I missed the banter, the singing and general conversation. I realised how lonely solo travel had been. I genuinely go 6-7 hours without talking to anyone, 90mins of football, then another 6-7 hours on my own till I get home. I love my football and I would, never, not do it. However, being an away home fan is a lonely life when you have no one to share the excitement with.
But I now have you, faithful readers, to share my exploits with. So thank you for restoring my rationality. 😏
One key conversation was about the phenomenon of the randomly appearing player. The women’s game has such a small interconnected community that it is of no great surprise to see famous faces, within the game, amongst the crowd.
Mine include Faye White who has greeted me at Arsenal, I believe she is one of support liaison officers now. Lucy Bronze has sat next to me at a Manchester City game. I have also been randomly stood near Laura Bassett for a whole Birmingham match, completely unawares.
However, I have one player who has appeared more than most. Which has led to the genuine belief that I am being stalked by Siobhan Chamberlin this season. Skeptics hear me out!
The first instance was at a Manchester City friendly. During half time Crick asked the all-important question if I thought it offended Shiv that City‘s chant for Karen Bardsley was about her being England’s number one.
’Random, no idea, Never really thought about it. Why?
I didn’t get an answer.
It wasn’t till midway through the second half I noticed half the newly formed Manchester United squad were two rows in front, which included their new number one.
A few weeks later at our away match at Everton as we were leaving I saw someone who looked familiar. Took me a minute to work out it was Leigh Moore, Shivs other half. Which meant that Shiv could be that far… Oh yup, there she is up in the stand behind me.
Even more randomly a few weeks after that, I was at a Manchester City men’s cup game against Fulham. I was in the fancy seats thanks to a contact of mine. When I look along the row, low and behold its Siobhan and her dad. Seriously, Shiv we need to stop meeting like 😏
Legal disclaimer I have never actually met Siobhan, maybe Shiv we should say hi next time our paths cross.
Emma’s random player seems to be Katie Chapman the ex-Chelsea captain. Low and behold who was going in right before us, I swear randomly appearing players is a real thing.
This was another game I couldn’t predict. Based on Chelsea’s form last season, we would get steamrollered. Based on their current form we might actually have a shot.
Having started the season with a lot of 0-0 draws and a crushing defeat at the hands of Arsenal. There was no way to know which Chelsea would turn up.
We actually played superbly first half. We pegged them back from coming forward. Becky made some world-class saves against her old club and we narrowly missed some chances. Ria Percival once again tremendous down the wing, who’s crosses our forwards couldn’t quite get on the end of. More importantly, we managed to keep Fran Kirby at bay.
Chances came from both teams, on the other hand, both goalkeepers were in fine form to keep it all level at the break.
Tensions did seem to be running high. Maybe it’s because of the history of our players with the club or because we didn’t want to roll over on the current champions.
For Chelsea was out because they had had such an unremarkable start to the season, they couldn’t show weakness to a newer team. All this energy ended with Gilly getting a yellow, for a bad foul. See it’s not just Kate.
Armed with the traditional scolding yet weak tea. I stood observing the crowd, the biggest we had had for a while. Though home fans seemed to be outweighed by the away ones. Seriously either West Ham fans don’t show their colours, or we have issues. I am hoping it’s the former.
Beside me and Emma I can see a little commotion going on. Lots of little girls squealing and a flurry for autographs. I think, ah yes flash of the infamous ponytail, Raff has been stood next to me for the entire half. Told you surprise players were a thing.
Note from my editor: You need to clean your glasses – not seeing people nearby.
More importantly, Raff had brought the newest member of her family. A French bulldog called Pea. I wander over to her on my way to get rid of said tea.
Seriously why do I do it to myself, life is too short for bad tea.
’I am going to pretend I have to come to say hi to you, really I am here for the dog.’
She laughed and I got a cuddle. From the dog, not Raff. Actually, that’s a lie, she hugged me after the match was over on our way out.
Oh, I lead such a hard life. Also, you can follow Pea on Instagram, totally worth it for cute pictures on a bad day. Pea raff
We were less fortunate in the second half and of course, it was Bachman who was going to score. Both goals were outrageous which most, if not all keepers would not have a chance at saving. We countered, pushed, pulled and tried everything to get back into it. But alas It wasn’t our night.
Though my highlight was seeing Millie Bright and Brianna going head to head. Told you there wasn’t a player she wasn’t too scared to take on.
We end the game losing 2-0.
But I felt positive from the performance, it hasn’t been another 7 goal drubbing and we had played well as a unit. I have to keep reminding myself we are a new team that is just cementing the foundation to become great.
And with that thought, I left Rush Green to go home. Back on my own, the lone wanderer. Ah well, it had been nice for some company for a while.
Next time it’s down to the South Coast to watch them take on the Seagulls, Rich you finally make an appearance and I officially meet our very formal German.