Since I do know Chelsea season ticket holders who never go to an away Premier game but consider themselves proper fans, Gill Brown* must be ultraproper. Saturday found her in Hull, ready for the game that was sure to be played – but wasn’t. Gill, who is also a useful badminton player (well, a lot more useful than me), offers refreshingly honest answers on Toon Doon (oddly sympathetic), cheating (oddly sympathetic), club & country (tightlipped but gives it away) and Gareth Hall (“who?”). Can she be serious in thinking we might get a draw at Stamford Bridge this weekend? …
Salut! Sunderland: Top of the Premier with many people tipping you for the title, winning in the Champions League, likely to put in a strong FA Cup challenge and yet still some Chelsea fans complain. What more do the boo boys – minority though they may be – want?
I think perhaps some of the fans get very frustrated by the style of football being played and the way we tend to grind out results. I hate the “boo” culture, I don’t see any point in booing your own team, it is totally counter-productive. I would never ever boo my team no matter what and it makes me feel sad to hear it.
What is it like supporting a team you expect to win practically every game, something no living Sunderland fan has experienced except in the Championship or even below?
It brings added pressure because you expect to win everything, and even if you draw it feels like a loss, and if you lose then you’re suicidal.?
And were you at the Bridge when Chelsea were a lot less successful?
Yes I was, and I remember feeling really happy that we came 11th in the league one year. When we lost games it was OK because there was always another chance next week. If we drew we were happy, but if we won a game we’d throw a party!
What do honestly expect to collect by way of trophies this season? Would one title – be it the Premier or Champions League – suffice?
I think if we only get one trophy this season it would have to be the Champions League or the Premier League because if it was the FA cup again – whilst it would be great to retain it – we really need to win something else as well otherwise it would seem like a poor season as we have to improve on last year’s achievement.
How would you describe the matchday atmosphere at Chelsea?
Mostly I would say there is a great atmosphere. It varies a lot depending on the competition but usually, as least where I sit, I would say it is noisy, supportive, funny but can also be very tense if things don’t seem to be going our way. It will go very quiet momentarily if the opposition score but it soon picks up again. The atmosphere at Champions League games is always very different but I think this is caused more by the noise that is created by our European friends who tend to chant continuously and stand and jig about for the entire game.
All fans, if they are honest, want their teams to succeed and most would probably welcome Abramovich-style m(b)illions as the means of achieving that success. But is money ruining the game??
No I don’t think money is ruining the game but it has definitely changed it and rather than regarding it as a problem it should be seen as an opportunity to improve the quality of English football. Also the influx of large sums of money should not allow some clubs to disrupt players in other clubs and this wouldn’t happen if contracts were more binding on both the clubs and players.
Do you have strong memories, good or bad, of any past encounters between Chelsea and Sunderland, and of players/staff associated with both clubs, eg Ian Porterfield and even, dare I mention him, Gareth Hall?
I have memories of two matches I think in the 1999/2000 season. We played Sunderland away and won 4-0 and then on the return we lost 4-1 – that wasn’t good (Oh yes it was; 4-0 up at half time! – editor). Last year was a close one too 3-2 I think at the end of the season. I don’t have any memories of Ian Porterfield or Gareth Hall. Before my time perhaps?
Who are your current and all-time favourite Chelsea players and why?
I never like this question because as soon as I mention one player I feel guilty about not mentioning another! However, I will say Zola as my all time favourite Chelsea player. He was very exciting to watch and you always felt if he had the ball something special was going to happen. He is such a loyal, honest and humble person. Current players? Well can I have two please – John Terry and Frank Lampard – oh and Essien, Ashley, Cole, Drogba, well can I say the whole team? OK I’ll stick with John Terry who is amazing, he reads the game so well, is consistent and such a great team player and leader, and Frankie who is so solid and reliable, plays some superb crosses, scores great goals and seems always to keep his cool and be so supportive of any new younger players in the squad.
Did you laugh when Newcastle went down?
No actually I didn’t. I always feel very sorry for fans of all teams that are relegated. I have never experienced it but can imagine how devastating it must be. I always think of Newcastle as a team that should be in the Premier League, and it seems strange that they aren’t. Some teams tend to go up and down a bit and I guess I don’t feel quite so sorry for them, but no I don’t think I would laugh at any of them – unless of course it was Manu,or Arsenal and may be Liverpool, just a bit!
The Eduardo question: last game of the season and you need three points for the title or to win the Champions League final. In the last second, Drogba goes down in the box and everyone in the ground except the ref knows he dived. Chelsea get the penalty and win. You take it gladly, you take it guiltily or you’re so ashamed you almost wish you hadn’t won?
I would take it gladly and justify it in my own mind by telling myself or anyone who cares to complain about it that you win some and lose some and we have certainly had our share of unfair and unjust decisions in very important games: Champions League – a non-goal by Liverpool, Barcelona last year – so yes I would accept it and party on!
And given his magnificent gesture, funding a new hospital in the Cote d’Ivoire, should Salut! Sunderland wash its mouth out with soap and water for using his name in that question?
Yes it most definitely should! The trouble is that mud sticks and whatever Drogba does or has done to him (which is plenty because players know that the refs give him nothing) he will always have to live with his reputation of being a diver. He gets pushed and shoved and tripped up all the time, it must be very frustrating for him – I bet Sunderland wouldn’t turn him down if he was offered as a free transfer!! Or even a paid transfer!
What is the one thing the football authorities should do to make the game, or the lot of fans, better?
Make referees more consistent and change the offside rule back. Maybe bring in video replays for certain decisions like to see if the ball has crossed the line, etc. Sorry that’s two!
Will you be at our match? What will be the score?
Yes I will most definitely be there. I think it will be a tough game, perhaps 2-1 to Chelsea, or it could even be 1-1, I do hope it’s not!
And please name this season’s top four, in order, and bottom three.
Chelsea, ManU, Arsenal, ManCity, top 4 and West Ham, Burnley, Portsmouth for relegation. Not 100 per cent sure about the top 4 though!
Club versus country: can’t wait to cheer on England in S Africa or too concerned about the Blues to care too much?
My heart sank when I started reading this question because I thought it was going to ask me to choose between club and country but as it doesn’t I can honestly say that I can’t wait to cheer on England in S Africa and my only concern about the Blues would be that none of them get injured. But if you did ask me to choose between the two I would probably lie and have my fingers crossed – but I’m not telling you my answer.
* Gill Brown on Gill Brown: I am PA to the headmistress of a junior school in London. I have been supporting Chelsea for about 20 years as an interested supporter to start with, then as a member and finally a season ticket holder for the past nine years. I tend to use the official Chelsea web site if I want to know anything, although I do check out the sports news pages as well.