So it has taken me a couple of days to recover from an exciting, entertaining and thoroughly exhausting rollercoaster trip to Indianapolis. Michael and I got checked into the Canterbury just after finding out its bar was rated as one of the top five sexist bars in Indianapolis. Naturally we were mildly fearful of being objectified, but we knew we could take it in the name of Chelsea.
So we dropped our bags in our room, pulled on our game shirts and set off on a brisk mile long walk to the Chatham Tap, home of the Idianapolis’ own official Chelsea supporter’s group, the Indy Blues (who I can verify are indeed full of booze). We bumped into many a blue shirt along the way and Chelsea TV’s Neil Barnett who was wearing a cheeky hat and equally cheeky grin. Clearly he was enjoying himself as much as we were.
Upon arriving at the Tap we got some beers and a decent BLT (with REAL bacon) in and started meeting the locals and visitors. It’s a great pub with a nice atmosphere that reminded me of our own British Bulldog. I met with the Indy Blues and traded one of my RMB scarves for an Indy Blue shirt and then met the Ohio Blues, who were clearly enjoying themselves just enough for Michael and I to join in. Michael had met them before in St Louis and it was clear that we were going to have a bit of fun. Here’s a local news package highlighting the Chatham Tap and the Indy and Ohio Blues:
We met fellow RMBs Kyle and Danielle Geordan and Roy Hobbs, who brought a good number of his mates with him and we got tickets dispensed and more beer in. We then made arrangements to meet up at the next pub, but Mike and I needed to leave to find a suitable pole for that charming and discreet flag of his. This turned out to be a tomato plant pole that was just right for the job!
From there it was off to McNiven’s that the Ohio Blues had squarely taken over. We had a swift pint of pure mashed hops (Flat 12’s Half Cycle). While we were there more blues joined in, hypnotised by Michael’s demure flag, that included a proper geezer in full Cech get up. With a decent group gathered together we made our way to the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument circle for a group shot. On this route we explained to the locals that we weren’t hooligans but rather are merely boisterous.
This shot includes: Josh Baney, Rafidah Ramli Brewster, Reid Shoop, Michelle Vélez, Sarah Wolfe, Nathan Haas, Jake Wolfe, Steve Roy, Susan Reck, Neil Jaye, Katie Peyton, Ryan Garland, Gilbert Kanyongo, Tatenda Kanyongo, Ruvarashe, Kanyongo and Kudakwashe Kanyongo, Justin Gifford and John P. Nerone from the Ohio Blues, who also fully understand the importance of minimalism regarding standard bearing. (If anyone can add names please let me know and I be happy to get everyone mentioned!)
It has to be said here for my English brethren that the Indy and Ohio Blues get it, really. Both sets of supporters are well informed, enthusiastic and not an ounce of plastic in sight, I promise. Even better than that, they know the importance of knocking a few back, taking the piss out of Spurs, Arsenal… well, everyone at any given opportunity and if they don’t know a song, they learn it right away. Enough horn blowing… we made our way to the Claddagh Irish pub, passing the very vocal CIA clan who were on their way to the circle for their group shot, for another few before kick off.
It was packed there and it took a good while to get the first beer in, but the weather was perfect and the company exceptional. This included Indianapolis’ only Newcastle and West Ham fans who were terrific sports and joined in with all the banter like the gentleman and scholar he was. I admit here that names came and went in a blur, even though I won’t forget a face.
I will leave things here with a photo reminiscent of my childhood Chelsea games. I must say that I did at no point encourage and pint supping by minors* as that would just not be cricket, but it was great to see some kids down the pub with us and we did our best to look after them in full.
In Part three we’ll head over to the stadium for the main event.