I have always had a vivid imagination.
Stood on the steps of Camp Nou, home of the greatest footballing club in the world, my mind wandered. I wonder how Chesham United will get on against Banbury United today?
Not even visiting the home of FC Barcelona, the greatest football club in the world, could distract my attention from the well-being of a little football club that stole my heart as a kid, and now won’t give it back. No matter how much it hurts me, saddens me and frustrates. Chesham United and I are in it for the long run. For better: and for worse.
So what’s this all about then, another blog by a football fan who wants to share his passion for his club? Well, yes, but with a difference.
Like most football fans I want to know what is going on at my club – What does the Chairman really think? What goes on in that Boardroom? Is the manager’s job safe? How did that stranger get to become a majority shareholder and owner? It is the nitty-gritty, the bits your typical fan does not get to see, but will always scrap around for a morsel of information, or gossip.
I have lived that dream. Thirty years ago I was a young kid going to watch his local football team. I enjoyed it, the joy turned to love and the love became an addiction. Today I have seen it all. I have been involved at every level, even spending just short of two years as the Chairman of the club I love… Was it a dream come true?
In many ways it was, but it was also a fairly horrifying eye opener to the way football operates, and the reality that the idyllic world that football supporters envisage simply does not exist.
My wife, Heather and I, left the Camp Nou area of Barcelona, and headed down to the Park Güell where we strolled the gardens in confused admiration, ticking off the box of another tourist hot spot before returning to our H10 Montcada hotel in the Gothic Quarters, and near the seafront.
It was my 40th birthday celebration – given the choice of a party or a weekend away without the kids, it became a bit of a no-brainer; a wise decision confirmed as I sat on the roof top terrace, fresh from my first ever massage, a stint in the Jacuzzi, and now sipping Preseco watching the sunset over Barcelona; a crisp yet sunny December evening…watching the Chesham United score notifications pop up on Twitter.
As a student I used to write a diary style account of my experiences watching Chesham United, It was disjointed, uninformed, biased and full of tales of drunken away days; but it was passionate, honest and a very real account of how I was feeling, as a supporter, about my club at the time. At the end of each season I used to compile them in one long article, photocopy them into a fanzine style booklet and sell them on the terraces. It was a good read, never a bestseller, and only appealing to a relatively small audience.
Twenty years later, as my 40th birthday approached, I had been writing a blog for a couple of years, but it was never the same as the fanzine – Chesham United Travels. A regularly updated blog is almost too instant, each article individual, not a rolling story. I called it Chesham United Travels because, well, I liked the name and it was effectively about travelling around watching Chesham United, which is what I do.
So, nearly 40 years of age, three-quarters of them spent watching this little football club, I have chosen to re-ignite the Travels and keep an account of my first 40 weeks of being in my forties, travelling around, watching Chesham United: Warts and all. Twenty years ago that meant admitting that I got drunk at an away match and got on the wrong train home; today I am privy to all that goes on at the club, and whereas my intention will always be to maintain integrity and abide by the unwritten rule that “what is said in the Boardroom must stay in the boardroom”, at Chesham, not a lot really stays in the Boardroom. This is not about dishing dirt, but I want supporters to understand the role they play in a club, and appreciate that crossing over to the other side does not always open the door to a life of champagne and strawberries.