Media volunteer Bron Jenkinson provides his thoughts after attending the Emirates FA Cup clash with Chelsea in the press box…
Where do I start? Saturday was one of the biggest games in our history and certainly one of the biggest days of my life. Every Spireite near and far will remember that day for a long time, no doubt about that. You can be sad that it’s over, or you can be grateful that it happened, and I certainly am the latter and so should everyone.
I’d firstly like to say what an incredible amount of praise Chelsea FC deserve, from the moment we walked into that stadium we were treated with an unbelievable amount of respect, but most of all, we were given everything we could ever have needed and more. They looked after us from minute one and I will be forever grateful for that, and I will almost certainly have a soft spot for Chelsea going forward.
The day started off with me picking up Liam Norcliffe (Derbyshire Times reporter). He jumped in the car and we both looked at each other and just laughed… “off to Stamford Bridge then” he said. We’ve travelled across the country together to the likes of Dover and Bromley, and it’s fair to say that those long car journeys can be a bore, but somehow, getting in the car to head to the ground of the European champions definitely wasn’t that. We were absolutely buzzing.
Before we arrived at the ground, we were told that the press area at Stamford Bridge is one of the best. When we arrived at the ground, I found it hard to believe that there is anywhere better. I suppose like the on the field matters really… I knew that it was going to be a better standard than we were used to, but it really took me back at how good it actually was. To put it into perspective, when we first walked into the room there was a humongous buffet with a drinks fridge that had every single drink you could ever imagine, all complimentary. Meanwhile, on a normal day in the National League, sometimes getting a tea or coffee can be a task! It really was a phenomenal set up.
I’ve never been to Stamford Bridge before, not even as a spectator, so the moment I walked out into the stands the size of the stadium totally took me back. My face was probably a picture, and it was only when a member of the opposition press said, “You’ve never experienced this before, have you?”, that I realised how big my smile must’ve actually been! There was a small TV screen in front of every seat in the press box that showed the game live on BBC and I have to say that was a real bonus, it certainly makes the Twitter commentary a lot easier when you can look back at the replays within a matter of seconds!
The Chelsea media were incredible with me and the rest of the team. It was great to speak and put some questions forward to them, asking them how they got to where they are now, and listening to the stories on where their careers all began. It was a great insight to the ‘admins’ who are at the top!
Again, I look at it in comparison to the players, they were playing against opposition at the top level of their career, where they themselves would eventually like to be. Well, it was the same for us in the press box, we all love the Spireites, endlessly, but the end goal is to reach the top of your game, whether you’re a footballer, teacher, accountant, or a journalist – everyone wants to work at the top level, and we got the chance to do that alongside the journalists and admins that are already at that stage in their career.
From the moment I started perusing a media career, it was always the goal to report on a game involving a Premier League club, so, doing it with the club I have supported for many years was just breath-taking.
Being able to go on the pitch at Stamford Bridge when the final whistle was blown, in front of 6,000 Spireites, was seriously up there with the most ‘pinch me’ moments of my entire life, there’s no doubt about it. The comical thing about it is, I wasn’t even expecting it until we arrived at the ground. I was filming some arrival posts for our social media channels, when Nick Johnson (head of media & communications at the club), gave me a call and asked me to come back outside the stadium as I’d been offered a red zone pass, which allows you access to the entire stadium, including the tunnel, changing rooms, and pitch. I was absolutely delighted, until I was told that I would only be given a red zone pass if I took a Covid-19 test.
Now, it’s fair to say that the wait for my negative result was the longest 15 minutes of my entire life! The thought of it being positive and having to go home before the game had even kicked-off was eating me up inside! I had no symptoms and had absolutely no reason to believe I may have been positive (especially after having Covid twice already and all three of my jabs!), but the ‘what if’ anxiety was really kicking in! Thankfully, as expected, I received a negative result and was granted access to all areas – exhilaration.
The first thing I did was go into the players tunnel to film some content, naively expecting it to be empty, I walked into the tunnel and the first person I saw… Romelu Lukaku. The 100-million-pound striker was stood less than two metres away from me, and it’s fair to say I was a little starstruck. Seconds later, I then bumped shoulders with someone by accident, only for me to turn around to apologise and see that it was Timo Werner. Again, starstruck!
The Chelsea players couldn’t have been more welcoming, not one of them walked by me without a fist bump, smile, or a hello. It was nice, to be honest. You see a lot of negative stereotypes in the media around footballers and their ignorance, but not one of Chelsea’s players walked by me without a smile. It really was surreal.
The game itself was magnificent. The lads dug deep and gave it everything, but class showed on the day. The Spireites really did give a good account of themselves and showed everyone watching on TV, in the ground, or listening at home what Chesterfield FC is all about.
The goal. Well, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t watched the clip back over 100 times, because I certainly have. It was a brilliant moment, the score line was irrelevant on the day, it always was. To be able to celebrate scoring a goal at Stamford Bridge, the home of the European champions, was all anyone ever wanted. Even the Chelsea fans were applauding the goal, which was a touch of class. The away end erupted and so did the Chesterfield side of the press box, what a moment for everyone associated with the club. We were all so happy after that, it topped off a great experience and gave us all something to cheer about.
The final whistle blew, and I went out onto the pitch to film the celebrations. It was one of those moments where you don’t have time to think, as all I was focusing on was capturing the incredible celebrations in front of the fans, I didn’t even think about the fact I was on the pitch at Stamford Bridge for a minute. All the players had smiles on their faces and to be that close to them in that very special moment was truly an honour.
Once the players had finished applauding the fans, I stopped recording and realised where I was. I’m a Sheffield Hallam University student, volunteering at the club, and I really was stood in front of 6,000 away fans on the pitch at Stamford Bridge. It was sensational to view the away end from down on the pitch and I didn’t want to leave. However, the moment that really got to me was when I looked up to the top tier and saw all my best friends, looking down and cheering me on. Incredible. I can’t lie, I was emotional and close to tears. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live.
I then conducted interviews with James Rowe and Akwasi Asante pitch side, which was another special moment to be the first person to speak with them both about the game. Both seemed delighted with the day and rightly so, they did Chesterfield FC extremely proud.
I couldn’t leave without a few selfies, obviously, so I whizzed back down the tunnel and caught Tino Werner, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Thomas Tuchel for a picture.
The journey home I couldn’t stop smiling, no one could, the realisation was slowly kicking in at what had just happened. We certainly re-lived it all in the car together, reminiscing on every single moment throughout the day.
When I finally got home, the smiles didn’t stop there, and to be honest they still haven’t fully stopped now. I think myself and every other Spireite across the globe will be reliving that day in our minds for years to come.
Chesterfield FC, Nick Johnson and anyone else that has helped me get to where I am today, I will be forever grateful to. I love this club from the bottom of my heart and volunteering in the role I do is a privilege and something I will never take for granted. I really do hope that in the future I’m lucky enough to say that this role is my full-time job, but there’s one thing for certain and that’s that Saturday gave me even more passion, hunger, and desire to work harder than I ever have before, so that one day I can officially say I work for this incredible club, and then eventually go on to achieve my long-term dream of working for the England media team. It seems crazy, but Saturday proved that anything is possible, dreams do come true and no matter what I go on to do in the future, I will always look back at my time with the club as a special one.
The most important thing is that while we have all enjoyed this moment, we now turn our attentions back to the real stuff on Saturday, an away trip to Barnet awaits and the Blues will need our support to bring home those all important three points. A promotion push is almost certainly on, so strap in tight and enjoy the ride.
I will once again finish with this…
We Are the Famous CFC, and this club is on its way back.