We knew he was one of us

FAN'S EYE VIEW: No 158 Chelsea
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The Independent Online
We've had our share of gloomy times at Chelsea - who can forget the years between '78 and '83 - and, for those of us who lived through them, the arrival of Matthew Harding and his golden vision represented a quantum leap forward. Money is honey, oh yes indeed, but there was always much, much more to Matthew than a lot of dosh.

We first came across him as a subscriber to the Chelsea Independent fanzine, where we knew him as a frequent letter writer. Even then we knew he was one of us, a true supporter of the club.

As he became well known we soon realised that in him we had the sort of supporter every fan dreams about: rich, generous and one of us. It wasn't long before he was baptised by the majority of fans with the heavily loaded title, "The Fans' Saviour".

Once he became famous, he loved to hold court at the Imperial Arms. Regardless of the millions he had accumulated, nearly everybody that came into contract with him was left with a lasting impression of a self-deprecating man who loved a drink, loved a joke, but above all loved Chelsea Football Club. When he was in the pub, you would never guess who he was, or how much he was worth.

His devotion to the team, and especially to the players, was unquestionable. What made him unique - at least as far as I was concerned -was that he never criticised the players (and I mean never) no matter how badly we had played. Sometimes this used to horrify me, but that was Matthew and we loved him for it.

As a Chelsea fan, which is how he should be remembered, he was second to none, always cheering the team on through thick and thin. "Chelsea first, last, always."

The fight goes on, Matthew.

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