Get Off My Land!

Posted: July 19, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, Guest, Legends, Random

Back in 1995, aged just 13, my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday. As a young boy I had so many ideas. Would it be the new Chelsea kit, new football boots, a computer game or just money? The biggest challenge was choosing the right present. However, my dad was on hand to offer an alternative suggestion.

“How do you fancy owning a bit of Chelsea’s pitch?” my dad asked. Wow! What a great idea. I had so many thoughts running through my head. I remember thinking I would ban Ryan Giggs from stepping on my bit of the pitch, or owning a penalty spot and refusing the opposition penalty taker to kick the ball. That was years ago but I’m sure many of you would think the same.

During Chelsea’s dark days the freehold to Stamford Bridge was sold to Marler Estates plc (later to be owned by Cabra Estates plc). The club was in financial ruin and property developers had threatened to build on Stamford Bridge. In 1993 Cabra Estates plc went into liquidation and Chelsea acquired the freehold to the ground again. The club decided to sell ‘shares’ in the ground to fans in order to keep Stamford Bridge safe.

The big question I was asked was whether I wanted the share on my birthday or whether I wanted to wait and have it presented on the pitch by one of the players. Er… I think I’ll have it on the pitch if you don’t mind!

I was told that I would be going on the pitch at half time in the Wednesday night Coca-Cola Cup 2nd round game against Stoke City. As a Chelsea member I was attending the game anyway but turned up early to find out what I needed to do. I headed to the old ‘Football in the Community’ building opposite Stamford Bridge but was told that I couldn’t go on the pitch that night.

I was gutted. I had waited 4 months for this experience only to be told I couldn’t do it. My parents had already paid the extra £25 for the privilege and were understandably not happy. Apologies were made and I was promised that I could go on the pitch at half-time in the next home game. That just happened to be Manchester United in the Premier League. Perhaps that was better than a cold Wednesday night against a lower league club in the Coca-Cola cup.

On the day of the game I headed up early excited about my experience. To put your mind’s at rest, I was given a pass so that I could go on to the pitch.

The game started but it wasn’t long before Man Utd scored. Paul Scholes got the first goal after 3 minutes and added a second 6 minutes later. I don’t remember much else of that half, but I remember getting excited about walking from the West Stand benches towards the players tunnel in the East Stand with my dad. I was told that I would be going on the pitch for the presentation in a short while and would have my photo taken. I was so nervous yet excited. I think the biggest thrill was the thought of walking on to the hallowed turf!

The time came for me to go on to the pitch. I remember looking at my dad with a massive grin on my face. I was then introduced to Nigel Spackman and Peter Osgood who were presenting the certificate. I don’t remember looking into the crowd or realising what else was happening in the ground. I remember having my photo taken and was told it would be sent to me in the post shortly afterwards. True to their word, the club sent me a lovely photo (which is in the loft somewhere).

It was great experience, but it got a little bit better. A month later Chelsea played Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. In my school (60 miles away from Chelsea) there were only two people that went and watched their club; myself and a friend who supported Spurs. The game ended 0-0. I saw my friend on the train home. After an initial chat about the game I asked him to look at a particular page in the programme. Why did I do this? Well, the photo they had taken was featured in the programme. Not bad, eh. On the pitch against Man Utd and in the programme against my favourite opponents, Spurs.

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If you liked this story then follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder

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Comments
  1. What a really lovely story and bit of history! And what a birthday present! It’s my birthday coming up, wonder what I could ask for!

    C4G

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