Munich, Royal Weddings and Wembley: Happy 19th May
No doubt on every calendar up and down the country, all over the world, in fact, there will be numerous significant dates saved for the year ahead; highlighted in bright colours, underlined multiple times and other various individual methods, in which helps us remember a significant date in our everyday lives.
The usual suspects will be there of course – birthdays, doctor appointments and dentist appointments – but perhaps the one date that catches, even the most organised among us out, and one that causes domestic disputes when forgotten – anniversaries.
It is normally the last task before thoughts of heading back to work, when the hangover of New Year’s Eve is still fresh in the memory banks and the Christmas tree is still hanging around as long as the mother in law; the calendar, which was purchased in September in preparation for this yearly ritual, is nicely laid out and your year begins to take shape when the dates start to flow in – personally speaking, the World Darts final would be a finer way to spend the evening but needs must and sacrifices have to be made.
The one date for Chelsea supporters, players, ex-players and perhaps everyone who has blue blood coursing through their veins, that does not need an entry in the calendar, an entry highlighted or a ring around the date is – 19th May.
For this date will be enshrined into the memory of everyone connected in Blue, there is no requirement for it to be yearly updated on to a nice flowery decorated calendar that matches the kitchen attire; the memory of that evening, what it meant, how it made you feel and what was witnessed, will never be forgotten – large portions of the 120 minutes will fade over time – but for the most significant parts of the match, most of us can pinpoint where and what one was doing when events were unfolding.
For instance, the gut-wrenching moment on 83 minutes when Thomas Mueller seemingly struck to give Bayern Munich the dream scenario, a Champions League victory on home soil in front of a passionate German audience – but if Chelsea’s Champions League campaign in 2012 taught us anything, then it was that this was far from over, the emotions had yet to be fully reached, an emotional rollercoaster which was Chelsea’s European campaign continued.
A corner, Chelsea’s first of the entire contest, deep into the latter stages of the match – 88th minute to be precise, was met by the one man who you wanted to meet it the most – Didier Drogba. Mr Wembley, Mr Scores in finals, legend or whatever you wish to call him – rose highest to bring Chelsea level and send supporters into raptures, the lucky 20,000 or so inside the Allianz Arena, outside in bars and every Chelsea supporter worldwide.
The goal had given Chelsea a chance, a lifeline and a way back to reach the holy grail – the full-time whistle blew to give us time to catch our breath and prepare our bodies, our mental state of mind for extra-time, and the next 30 minutes that unfolded were perhaps some of the most nail-biting and emotional that Chelsea fans have ever or will ever experience.
You could feel the tension building with every passing second, and then it happened, a penalty given for a foul on Arjen Robben in the box – and a double take given to see who had committed the offence, Didier Drogba could be going from hero to zero in less than twenty minutes – we need not have worried, for there was another hero to emerge on a night of eleven heroes – the top end of the Chelsea spine, none other than Petr Cech – who duly kept out Robben’s penalty and kept the dream alive, what couldn’t be foreseen at this point was that penalty save was a glimpse of what was to come.
The full-time whistle blew and Chelsea now faced a penalty shoot-out, against a German side, in Germany nevertheless, and with Chelsea’s record in penalty knockout competitions, the omens were not exactly with Roberto Di Matteo and his players; and when Juan Mata stepped up and missed the first Chelsea spot kick – it seemed that this was one step too far.
Fate, divine intervention or whatever paranormal source you which to quote from was not for wanting, it hadn’t jumped along with Chelsea, taking in the 4-1 home leg with Napoli and both semi-final legs with Barcelona to come this far to fall at a penalty shoot out – it was riding a crest of a wave, and it intervened once more when Ivica Olic stepped up, usually a more than reliable penalty taker, struck his effort far too close to Petr Cech – a 3-2 shootout deficit quickly became 3-3 after Ashley Close cooly placed his spot kick beyond – when Bastian Schweinsteiger stepped up, fate seemingly played its part once more – for it is well known that football is a game of twenty-two players and in the end the Germans win on penalties! But as Ashley Cole stated in his post-match interview ‘they don’t now’ – Schweinsteiger’s effort was pushed on to the post by Cech and it was now left up to Didier Drogba to put his penalty away and give Chelsea their greatest triumph in the history of the football club – we all know how this ends up!!
This weekend, and more fittingly on 19th May, Chelsea are once more in a final on a date that is fast becoming synonymous with the football club – if Chelsea can add the FA Cup to the Champions League victory on this significant day then the legacy of this day will be cemented into the club’s long history.
There is something else happening a little earlier on in the day, and I’m sure that, on the turn of every year, once the calendar has been purchased – the day will be the first that both Harry and Meghan will place on the calendar – one of the newlyweds may even underline or put a ring around the date.
One thing is for certain, no matter if we win or lose at Wembley come Saturday – 19th May will be forever remembered by everyone who has a place in their heart for Chelsea Football Club.
Whether it will be at the forefront of Harry and Meghan’s minds in years to come remains to be seen.