Game 3: Chelsea Away

Tuesday 23rd August 2016

Or: A Rolls Royce performance well beyond the end of the game

The Journey

I felt, at 10.45, that I had better just check the oil in my 18 year old Ford Focus. The Power Steering fluid needs checking from time to time so; at the same time, why not just do the same for the oil. Filler caps off, oil in, fill with a little bit to get to top, rather than bottom, notch, engine cover down and off we go.

I Filled up with petrol and arrived exactly at 1 to wait for the tardy two to clock off and stroll around the corner to cadge a lift. We had a plan and all was well with the world. We parked up in Ealing just around the corner from the Broadway Station. We must remember this for the future.

Pre match Pubs

North Star, Ealing (7)

Coca-Cola for me as I didn’t want to waste my limited drinking options to a pint of Doom Bar or Tribute. I left that to Ronnie and Bob as we settled for a quick catch up conversation with the others of the usual group  to find out where they had headed. They called in and we had to decide whether to join the masses of Gasheads congregating at Earls Court. Not this time. We would head to the river. Tube to Ravenscourt Park and a walk to to bank of the Thames it was then. The chaps agreed this pub was better in the winter. They had visited when watching Bristol Rugby at Ealing. I was on a first visit and in my opinion the pub was pretty standard but it did have an interesting covered garden.

The Dove, Hammersmith (11)

How do those beers look?

Beer: Fullers ESB 5

This is a special and very popular pub. It is always busy and this can be a problem. We couldn’t get anywhere with a river view table so sat in the cool and very dark bar. This in itself was pleasant. The beer choice provoked a common conversation about what makes a good selection. The pub had five Fullers ales and I think that can make for an excellent selection. We agreed that many pubs offer too many beers and quality suffers. The beer here is exceptional. I commented to the bar man that it was the best pint of ESB that I have had in a very long time. I drink a fair bit of it for comparisons sake. Then followed a short and informed conversation about the vagaries of ESB cellarmanship. The pub was racking up points by the second. We settled under the celebrity wall chart and considered whether to stay or go. In duty to you the reader we decided to move on.

Blue Anchor, Hammersmith (6)

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And how does this look?

You cannot beat a bit of contrast when on a pub crawl. The beer choice was interesting, quite independent and having some novelty. The Nelson Blue Anchor was decidedly grim, not off or badly kept, but at a stage where it wasn’t at its best. We managed to share a table on the river side and watched the world walk, skate, jog and sail by.

Beer: Nelson Blue Anchor (1)

The Swan Hammersmith

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I was back on the Coca-Cola. The others sampled a cider and a bitter of some sort. We quite liked this pub for its space and, more importantly, location. The numbers was building up, with Chelsea fans and commuters heading home. We had to make an option from a choice of 3. Option One. Tube to Earls Court and change to line for Fulham Broadway. Ronnie had a £12 ticket so obviously favoured this option so as to justify the non-Oyster Card choice. You would think a chap that likes what he knows will work for him; at the forefront of the British Hi-Tech industry; could sort out an online ticketing system and invest in one. Option Two was to exercise our Oyster card flexibility and get a bus direct to the ground. The traffic looked a bit heavy but it was worth our £1.50 worth of card expense. The third option was to take a taxi. This had certain advantages but would open all of us to accusations of being big time Charlies. So it was that we went for the first, sticky, smelly and uncomfortable first option.

The Match

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The view before everyone arrived, stood up and the crossbar became a pitch level obstruction

I will say this early on. I was expecting to be ripped off, subjected to patronising Premier League arrogance and resent the Chelsea experience. It was brilliant, comfortable, well organised, and reasonably priced making for a thoroughly entertaining evening. A street burger outside the gate that was cheaper and better than many bought in Divisions 1 or 2. Tea for £2, stewards that were helpful and downright welcoming without the excruciating use of sir and madam when inappropriate. I took my £3 programme and quickly found the seat of allocation. This problem I encountered could be seen was Bristol Rovers fault. I had arrived within an hour of the seats going on sale. They sell them from row one of the lower stand onwards, there was no option for my preferred upper tier seat. My seat had a view so close to the goal and low down that the nets and posts obscured two thirds of the game. If I stood with the masses then the cross bar rendered the players to headless of legless chickens in the far distance, I had an option of watching the game on the big screen. The noise was too loud to go to sleep. After about 20 minutes I had enough and went to watch the game in the concourse on a big screen. There I talked to the stewards and the kind Emma sorted out a seat near the corners where at least I could watch the game without hindrance. I sat and watched the game form a similarly low spot but at least I could see something of the game.

Chelsea 3 Bristol Rovers 2 Attendance: 39,276 (approx. 4000 Gasheads)

The Stats didn’t lie. We could easily have been thrashed if their 28 shots had hit a more appropriate ratio of success.  After the first half hour the team found a bit of space to start to play and I think the Chelsea side resorted to giving us the respect of being a better side than we actually were. Chris Lines started to get the ball and choose longer options and chances came. From 2-0 down and heading for a thrashing the Gas were now looking creative and threatening. Eventually Ellis Harrison ran out of steam. I hope he remembers the day when at times he gave the England centre halves of recent years a decent work out. The gas were in full throated volume. Stuart Sinclair played like the man possessed but for once with passing and positive intent . If only we could have got the usual performances form our two full backs and a shock might happen. I sat back and just enjoyed the Chelsea style. They play really wide and looked comfortable with our later huff and puff. I got the impression that the final minutes were played out with an agreed feeling that 3-2 would do for both sides.

Rovers Ratings: /10 New for this season. Players with more than 7 or less than 5 will get a comment as to why.

Mildenhall 7, Leadbitter 4, Lockyer 5, Hartley 6, Brown 4, O. Clarke 5 Lines 7, Sinclair 7, Harrison 7, Taylor 6. Subs Gaffney 4, Easter 6

The laudable

Mildenhall. – Made a string of good saves in a crowded goal area.

Lines – was patient and would make several; short passes befor looking and picking out the evr running front and wide players

Sinclair – Got involved on the ball and was controlled in filling the centre3 of midfield. I might suggest this was his best ever game for the Gas. As my friends know, I am not a Sinclair fan.

Harrison – Took time to get involved or, more importantly, to be found. He ran at their defence with success and had a very good hour.

The lamentable

Leadbitter and Brown– skinned on a regular basis and appeared flummoxed as to how to get closer to the man they were facing. They were not helped by having someone to fill in behind him/ it would be a game for them to forget. Nah, forget that, they will remember it foe a very long time The Chelsea wide players were a bit tasty though.

Gaffney – Not able to make a difference when it was needed,

Entertainment Value 4

Man of the Match: Stuart Sinclair

Best Pub: Dove

As Best Pub for the day it scored 11

Beer choice 5 (out of 5) 3

Beer Quality 5 (average score of beers chosen, out of 5)

Staff and service 3 (Out of 5)

Total 11 out of 15

It did not beat the leading Pub of the year so far which is the Sheffield Tap, Sheffield with 11.5 but was the best of the day.

Best Beer: Fullers ESB at the Dove.

We returned to Ealing via well organised and efficient queues at the tube station. A quick food stop and drive home leaving at 11.15 Ron had commented about the car burning oil. I had dismissed it as spilling a bit earlier on and perhaps it would be fine now. By the M4 the fug was noticeable and I went through my memories from the morning in my head.

“Filler caps off, oil in, fill with a little bit to get to top rather than bottom notch, engine cover down and off we go.”

Something is missing here.

Membury services. I will just check whether I had left a rag in the engine. Nope, there was something much worse. I had left the filler cap off. We had driven for 175 plus miles with no oil filler cap. The engine oil  was almost all gone and the cap most certainly had gone. The garages were closed and I had an audience of coach loads of fellow Gasheads in the service station car park to witness my stupidity. The petrol station sold me three cans of oil. The engineer and draughtsman of the British Engine Industry went in to problem solving mode. Tops of cans were cut to size, no luck. Thoughts of tape and improvised cardboard tops were tried and rejected. Eventually the engine top was stuffed with a large sponge and we left with a resolution to keep the revs down to 2000rpm. So it was that we arrived home at 3 and Rolls Royce would no doubt have some workers clocking in late in the morning. Cheers chaps and I am really sorry for being so stupid. Resolution made. Leave oil checking to the garage once a year in future.

Next up: Swindon Away Saturday 27th August

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