Our trip. We got back last night.
First game of the knock-out stages, we hope. I manage to get the exact date of the game from a contact before it’s on the Chelsea website, so am sat on the BA.com website ready to book our flights. The call comes in and I secure two flights at £100 return plus the tax. I’ll take that. Better than easyJet and one can book your seats the day before and reserve the return seat nbrs for a tenner. Free beers on the aeroplane. Yep, that’ll do. We book a hotel right near the port. I am recommended the Vesuvius hotel , which is a ‘proper’ 5-star job and the team will probably stay there, but it comes out at €200 a room from the off and we’re starting to budget the trips more now. So we go up the road, still on the front, but for €85 a night for a double. We reserve 3 rooms as the other guys we go with will want accommodation too. We then hear that everyone will need ID with their tickets to get into the stadium. That doesn’t affect most of us, but 3 of the 7 tickets are being used by others. I have collected 7 tickets from the box office and each one had the person’s name written on it in black felt pen. This could be awkward. Shame. But we’ll sort it out. Everyone is sensible so hopefully we’ll all be ok as a group.
The day comes. My mate night stops at my house the night before as we’ll be off to the airport early in the morning. He’s round early so we sink 3 pints at my mate’s pub and back for some grub. My missus makes us a nice big dinner. The morning of the game we’re out at 5:15 for LGW. We’re thru’ security by 6:15, nice and early. A breakfast upstairs is called for – and we meet a few others up there. A decent enough flight to Naples. Queue for a taxi outside then 4 of us to the hotel. Others took the pre-arranged fans’ buses. Not for us. Check-in the hotel then out on the beer. Off to a nice place a few blocks from the hotel. About 18 of us there. Then all round to a restaurant that has been booked by one of the other guys. He found it on the internet with loads of good reviews. A table for 10 and a table for 8 at 2pm. We have a few hours of excellent Italian food and lots of decent lager. Back to the hotel – pick up the flag and then off to the port for the buses to the game.
Buses to the game – what a nightmare. A 10-minute journey is not taken as the buses would get too much attention through town to the stadium, so we go round the outside. Yep – 80 minutes to the ground. A joke. We all walk into the ground. Treated like penned animals again. All pushed up the back for no reason. The stand was completely empty at the front. It becomes obvious that the 2,836 tickets allocated haven’t all been taken up. There’s about 900 Chelsea there. There is lots of arguing with the stewards over standing at the back. We eventually get nearer the front. Lucky one or two stewards were sensible. Most certainly weren’t, and it makes you realise why there can sometimes be the odd incident. The Italian police were there with a presence. We are pelted with plastic bottles as the game goes on. They all just land in the netting that surrounds us. We are constantly taunted. We score, which was nice, but the joy is short-lived. When they score some of the police celebrate! Would that happen in London? Then they score again – same again. Some actually walk down the stairs to celebrate out of our view. Then they get the 3rd goal and we are then getting the police holding up 3 fingers to us. You couldn’t make it up.
We’re kept in for 30mins or so. When we’re all down by the big main exit gate we’re all held back. This one guy, who was in charge of the big exit gate, was taunting one of the Chelsea fans with the keys. He was waving the keys in the guy’s face – winding him up that the gate wouldn’t be opened. One of the other Chelsea, just to my left, looks down and sees this massive padlock hooked on the gate bar. It wasn’t locked. It was the main padlock for Napoli’s stadium’s exit. The guy picked up the padlock and took it with him. I was laughing so much. After we all exited the gateman would soon realise who had the last laugh. I wonder how long he was looking for his big padlock?! Did he sleep by the gate all night? Did they get to lock the stadium that night? It serves him right. The padlock had been on there forever. It was well-battered around, but the portion that closes was very shiny. It was obvious it had been used for years. The guy took the padlock back to town and was showing it to us at the bar. All quite funny, really, as the gateman was an a**ehole. The guy who took it said it was going back to London as a souvenir – and a nice reminder of this idiot gateman. A photo of it should be sent to Napoli with an explanation why it was taken.
We go back to the buses and take the 90-minute route back to the port. Another joke. It is a 10-minute ride if we went straight there, and not around their own M25. We all retire at around 3.30am. A nice day awaits us tomorrow. I organised the cab driver for the day. Three of us can go and do the tourist bit. We’ll have a nice day.
The cabbie collects us at 10:30. Our return flight to LGW isn’t until 7:50pm. We have all day for tourist stuff. We went to Pompeii for 3 hours. Walked around the ruins and took some photos. The flag even came out in the theatre area of the ruins. We then went on to Sorrento, about 30mins further south. It’s a lovely town with beautiful views of the Island of Capri. We had a wonderful lunch and the best lagers ever tasted. We bought some local Limoncello to take home – it was n hand-painted bottles. The cabbie came and got us at 4.30 as he was worried about the traffic back to the airport. It would be an hour and 15 mins to get back to the airport. We’d reserved seats, but couldn’t be too clever as traffic would be unknown. The trip back to the airport was uneventful. Time for another couple of bottles of lager there before boarding the buses out to the aeroplane for another uneventful flight home. 2-0 for the home leg isn’t impossible, but we doubt Boas will get the best from the players. They obviously don’t want to play for him. Will he last until then, even?