Well, what a weekend it has been! After a very busy week in Edinburgh for the Wool Festival last month, I have had a very enjoyable few days break in London what could be described as an unexpected football bonanza; something I have dreamt of since I was in my teens.
Football has always been the other great passion of my life (besides wool, of course) and I have been an ardent Chelsea fan since the mid- 1960s. My home island, Burra, in the Shetland Isles formed a football team, our father was one of the stalwarts of the move to create it so it was always close to home, and as we were a small community of perhaps 500 people there were not many football facilities. Despite this, when I came home for the summer of 1966, my dad had written to Chelsea football club and obtained a second hand Blues training football kit. I had the honour of playing for my home island that summer and, in subsequent years, donned that famous blue strip. At that time I also played for Lerwick Spurs and a teammate of mine, Jeemie Tulloch (who had been at Aberdeen F.C. as a youth), would tell me stories of his sharing accommodation with the famous Chelsea and Scotland football legend Charlie Cook, so it would be fair to stay I felt connected to the Blues!
Come Christmas last year, imagine my surprise when our son, Adrian, and his wife, Sarah, presented me with a 2019 Chelsea calendar for my Christmas present- attached to a match-day museum package including tickets for a Chelsea home game in April 2019! It is difficult to explain how this felt; other than it was like being a child again and receiving my first ever Christmas present from my parents.
Arriving in London, we were staying in a hotel attached to Stamford Bridge. Words failed me (which is most unusual) and the next morning Adrian announced we were meeting Sarah’s cousin and uncle at Wembley stadium where would be their guests at the English F.A.Cup semi- final between Wolves and Watford. I was stunned again as another great desire of mine was to someday get to go to Wembley; home of the English national team. It is, perhaps, unusual that someone Scottish would be interested in the national team of our arch rivals; however I, like many millions, supported them when they won the world cup in 1966. Plus, my Great Grandmother came from Gateshead, England. The England captain Bobby Moore was someone I admired greatly for his football abilities. So, it was surreal that I should meet up with Sarah’s family beneath the statue of the great man.
After months of anticipation, the day finally arrived! We spent the day visiting the pitch and receiving a tour of the grounds; as well as seeing the museum at Stamford Bridge and receiving a great meal. Kick off was at 8 o’clock, and Chelsea did not disappoint. They put in a tremendous performance and I am thrilled to have seen Eden Hazard score perhaps the goal of the season! Chelsea came away victors 2:0 against West Ham; the perfect end to my trip!
I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Sarah’s family for their kindness and hospitality, which was beyond belief and a day that I will treasure always. Finally, I would again like to thank Adrian and Sarah for taking me on this journey, and Adrian for taking care of me in the capital city and showing me some of the famous landmarks and special places in one of the most vibrant and finest cities of the world! It was an unforgettable experience I am forever grateful to you both.
Now, back to reality! I shall be publishing the next chapter in my journey with Shetland wool soon.