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Boys in Blue in Division Two

On the 40th Anniversary of Chelsea's second division title winning game at Grimsby, Chelsea Heritage Partner Mark Meehan recreates an article he wrote for CFCUK in February 2020.



7.00 am. Saturday May 12th 1984.


Cricklewood Broadway. I look across the road. All the chippies, sparks and builders waiting for a van to turn up. A day’s hard graft and then in 8 hours back in The Crown for the craic. Glasses flying, Biddies crying, Paddies going to town. In 8 hours, I will be at Blundell Park for the last game of the season. I walk down The Broadway and escape the cold by heading into the cafe.


We always meet at Robert Delligrotti’s (Dell to his friends) mum and dad’s café. Trattoria Italia. Every away coach trip. Always meet here for breakfast. Bacon and sausage sandwiches. Full English. Chelsea away. Where else would we be on a Saturday?


We are on Liam’s Dirtbox coaches. Liam always does the coaches. I organised Cardiff away. Mad day, 3-3 draw. Stressful as anything getting everyone back on the coach after. Never again. Leave Liam to it. He is better at it. Gets the money up front the week before. If you get drunk and don’t get up, you lose your money. Liam’s coaches always leave on time. No time for stragglers. We always have to be in the pub by opening time any away game. It’s the rule.

At 7.30 am the coach pulls away from Cricklewood Broadway and heads for Staples Corner and the long road north. Everyone is on board now. No one is missing today. No one has gone mad on the drink last night or has gone clubbing to the early hours. Everyone on board has a ticket to the match. No one is going to miss this one. Everyone who matters is here. The two Neils from Crawley. Tall Paul. The two Nicks. Davies and Winter. Cousin John. Eamonn O’ Eamonn. Simon. Chris Crighton. Des. The Silver Fox. Gary Hanks who looks more and more like Bob Seger. Then the Willesden/Cricklewood crew. Dan. RJ. Kev Rock. Bill Byrne. Delboy to name a few. And yours truly.


It has been five years since relegation at Highbury. Many journeys made. Maine Road. Ninian Park. St James Park. Baseball Ground. Fratton Park and Hillsborough. Now, Blundell Park. No better group of people to be with and no better place to be either.


We beat Barnsley last week. Wednesday dropped a point against Manchester City. Wednesday today are at Cardiff. We only have to match their result and we will be champions. It’s in our hands now. Win at Grimsby. Win the title.


The coach is soon alive to the sounds of cans being cracked open. Fosters and Heineken are the drinks of choice for most today. Songs are sung. Beer is drunk. More songs. More beer as the coach driver eats up the miles in front of him.


My role on away trips has always been to provide the video entertainment. Its four hours up to Grimsby today so I have come armed with a bag of VHS videos. The credit is never all mine. I am usually out most Friday nights either working or drinking so my younger sister usually does the home recording for me for most away games. Away day videos follow a familiar path. The latest Friday night episode of ‘Cheers’ has been recorded. A couple of ‘Auf Wiedersehn Pet’ episodes are always popular. Some former Chelsea games and a bit of music. Something from ‘The Tube’, ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’, or ‘Entertainment USA’. Usually get some decent American bands on there. Job done. Today, it’s the Manchester City away game from the other week. What an away trip and what a game that was.

Soon the football, Sam Malone, Oz, Neville, Dennis and Moxy are done. The music video goes on. A bit of metal. A bit of punk, new wave and, some up to date compilations. First U2. Live from Red Rocks. Dennis Sheehan their tour manager pops up on screen. I know Dennis through his younger brother, Anthony, who plays in our Sunday league football side. Dennis has worked for Iggy Pop and The Pretenders but this U2 management gig is looking like his biggest job yet. They might get bigger and bigger this lot. Everyone loves U2 on the coach. We are all up in the aisles for ‘I will follow’ and ‘Celebration’ and everyone shouting ‘Shake, shake’ and ‘we dance out of time and everything goes round and round’ as we start a conga and Bono gives way to Frankie’s ‘Two Tribes’ and ‘Relax’. Beers and songs. Songs and beers. Chelsea away.


Then the next track. Mr Springsteen has a new single out. ‘Dancing in the Dark’ which has only been out a couple of weeks but the video is everywhere on TV. It’s now on our bus. Chris Crighton is in his element. Chris is a big a Springsteen fan as he is a Chelsea supporter. No Chelsea away trip is complete without a Bruce song or two. Chris usually sticks to stuff from ‘Born to Run’ or ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ but already he knows all the words to Bruce’s latest 7 incher. He proudly bursts into song:


I get up in the evening

And I ain't got nothing to say

I come home in the morning

I go to bed feeling the same way

I ain't nothing but tired

Man, I'm just tired and bored with myself

Hey there, baby

I could use just a little help

You can't start a fire

You can’t start a fire without a spark

This gun’s for hire

Even if we’re just dancing in the dark.

 

Yes, he already knows all of the words. He probably knows the words by now to the B side Pink Cadillac as well.

 

We make it to Cleethorpes by lunchtime. More beer. More songs. Johnny’s Neal’s Blue and White Army. Come Along and Sing this Song. Boys in Blue Division Two. Kick off looms on the horizon. We head to Blundell Park. There is a spring in everyone’s step. We are going to win the league. Chelsea. Champions. Match programme 50p. Chelsea Special Edition. Special price too?

“Chelsea are back. Chelsea are back”.

 

It takes an eternity to get into the ground. The away end is jammed. Packed to overflowing. It soon gets dangerous. People are getting crushed now. Too many people packed into one terrace. Something has to give.

 

Soon it does. We are climbing onto the pitch over the fences. Not our fault. Not our fault. The terracing in the lower tier of the main stand is empty. Several thousand Chelsea fans soon cross the pitch and fill it up. We are now on the half way line. We have the best view in the house now. 

The game. A Kerry Dixon headed goal. Ten thousand Chelsea go mad. Another Pat Nevin penalty to forget. Everyone loves Pat though. No one is going to dig him out for that penalty miss.

 

‘Come along. Come Along. Come Along and sing this song.

Boys in Blue in Division One. We won’t be here for long.’

 

The second half goes on forever. Sheffield Wednesday are winning 2-0 at Cardiff. We need to hang on to this victory. We cheer Chelsea home. We win. The final whistle goes. Everyone goes mad. At this moment in time nothing else matters. Everyone is on the pitch now. Fans and players. Players and fans. John Neal’s Blue and White Army. The Boys in Blue in Division Two.


As we are celebrating beside the pitch one player emerges. Dale Jasper. He rushes over to greet someone. A mate. A brother. We know his brother is Chelsea. We all join the on-pitch celebration and congratulate Dale. Supporters and Dale Jasper. Dale Jasper and supporters. Come Along and Sing this Song. We won’t be here for long. Your Chelsea. My Chelsea. Dale Jasper’s Chelsea. A bright long future ahead of him at Stamford Bridge.


Dale Jasper. Croydon born. Chelsea supporter. Living the dream. Supported the team since he was a kid. He was now in the side that has won the Second Division title. He will be playing at Highbury next season. I can imagine Dale a few years earlier. Getting on the rattler at East Croydon. Change trains at Clapham Junction. Platform One for the Overground to West Brompton. Then one stop down to Fulham Broadway. He was probably part of Eddie McCreadie’s Blue and White Army and there when we were relegated so soon after returning to the top flight. Dale Jasper. Chelsea through and through. Living the dream. Living every fan’s dream. Now a Chelsea footballer but he looks like you and looks like me. The George Michael meets Purdey hair style. Half of the Shed boys on the terraces look the same. Off field no doubt in Lacoste or a Sergio polo shirt. Levi 501s or Stone Island. Royal Blue Adidas trainers. The boy in blue. Division Two.


 

Fast forward to January 30th 2020. News comes through that Dale had passed away at 56 years of age. I dig out and look at that Hugh Hastings colour photo from the Grimsby dressing room and there sitting in the middle of the photo is Dale. I have had that photo for years and gradually I have been getting members of the 1983/84 promotion squad to sign it for me. By the time you are reading this I should have everyone in the photo’s signature bar one - Dale Jasper. We started working on this book in 2019 and Colin Pates kindly gave me Dale’s mobile number and I never ever made that phone call. Now I never will.

 



         

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