Battling to Stamford Bridge on Monday night was a struggle. The problem wasn’t the icy winds, it was the heavy wintry drifts of ticket touts.
Official ticket sales for the Brazil versus Russia friendly at Chelsea’s stadium had ended at lunchtime on Monday, leaving scores of people turning up through the afternoon in search of a way into the match.
It was a field day for the touts, and it also meant that only 35,206 were at the game, instead of a potential 42,000 full house.
Despite the bitter cold, there was a carnival atmosphere, with scantily clad Brazilian dancers braving hypothermia to entertain the crowd.
The match itself started slowly, prompting Mexican waves as the crowd opted to entertain itself.
Blues players David Luiz and Oscar were in the starting line-up, and using their familiar pegs in the home dressing room.
Although Ramires was missing with a thigh injury, other faces from the past were present, with Felipe Scolari back in SW6 for the first time since his 2009 sacking, and former full-back Yuri Zhirkov also returning for Fabio Capello’s Russia side, although his evening ended prematurely with a hamstring tweak.
It finished 1-1, thanks to Fred’s late equaliser cancelling out Viktor Fayzulin’s opener for Russia.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect to the game was the revelation that Chelsea possess a new sprinter who could give any player a run for their money.
He’s a steward, with impressive dreadlocks, whose task it is to intercept anyone who dares invade the pitch.
On the hour mark he had his first challenge – a teenager wrapped in a Brazil flag, who was flattened by the hi-vis Exocet and arrested. A minute before the equaliser, another chancer was despatched.
The mystery steward intrigued Rafa Benitez, watching from the shadows of one of the luxury boxes.
Sadly he isn’t eligible for the Blues’ Southampton game or the Man Utd replay over Easter.