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Over Land and Sea

Discussion in 'Fanfics & Writing' started by Wessexbrony, 19 January 2019.

  1. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Chapter 37

    Chasing Former Glories

    Thursday 12th April

    “Welcome to the Sport Show on Radio Canterlot, and to quote today's Football Daily front page, are Chelsea on course for the Treble?”

    “No they damn well aren't!” came Belladonna's voice from the other side of the door.

    “Rattled, are we?” Autumn muttered, as Big Match and Kick Off discussed the previous night's match.

    “...as well as Mikel,” Kick Off continued, “Especially how he kept Gerrard and Alonso quiet all game.”

    “Well, Chelsea did suffer a blow last night as Carvalho limped off injured; he faces at least two weeks on the sidelines…”

    With the feeling that she had done this far too many times, Autumn turned the radio off and dialled the visitation office.

    Saturday 14th April

    As the weather was getting warmer and Chelsea weren't in action until the following day, I'd taken Dinky to a tour of the newly rebuilt Wembley Stadium, which would be hosting the FA Cup Final in May. The semi finals were taking place this weekend; Everton would face Tottenham at Villa Park, while Chelsea's opponents at Old Trafford would be Aston Villa.

    The two of us got back to the apartment (following a stop at Goalato) just as the league results were coming in.

    “Manchester United cruised to a comfortable win over struggling Middlesbrough this afternoon. The result sees them open an eight point lead over Chelsea, who are in FA Cup action this weekend and play their fixture at West Ham on Wednesday...”

    Man Utd 2-0 Middlesbrough (Rooney 32, Giggs 55)

    1 Man Utd P34 79pts
    2 Chelsea P33 71pts

    Sunday 15th April

    Once upon a time, Aston Villa had been a great team. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, they'd collected a number of trophies, culminating in the European Cup in 1982. In the early 1990s, they'd challenged for the title and won the League Cup in 1994 and 1996.

    However, the trophies had then dried up, and all they had to show since then was an appearance in the last FA Cup Final at the Old Wembley in 2000, in which Chelsea had beaten them 1-0. In the past six seasons, they’d flirted with relegation as often as they’d flirted with Europe.

    This season's FA Cup, however, had given them the chance to rekindle their glory days. A surprise victory over Man Utd in the third round had been followed by wins over Nottingham Forest, Reading and Middlesbrough. Now, they faced Chelsea in their bid to get to Wembley and have a chance of winning their first trophy in eleven years.

    Of course, Chelsea were still fighting on three fronts, and had their own eyes on the FA Cup; the last meeting between the two sides had been that final in 2000, which was the last time Chelsea had won the cup.

    “So, half time here at Old Trafford,” Big Match said, “And we still have no idea of who will join Everton in the final; they beat Tottenham 3-1 in yesterday’s semi final at Villa Park…”

    The score stood at 1-1 at half time, with both sides having traded blows. Midway through the first half, Agbonlahor had cut inside and scored from an angle with a shot which beat Cech at his near post. Then, six minutes before half time, Joe Cole, deployed behind Drogba and Gudjohnsen, had run onto a pass from Drogba to fire a low shot past Thomas Sorensen to bring Chelsea level.

    “Well, Aston Villa have a chance now to show that they are still up there,” Kick Off said, as the teams emerged from the tunnel for the second half, “But Chelsea have shown this season that they can really turn it on in the second half.”

    And turn it on they did. Four minutes into the second half, Joe Cole played a through ball to Gudjohnsen, who turned Phil Bardsley before unleashing a shot which was saved by Sorensen. Three minutes later, Drogba was fouled just outside the area by McCann, who was booked for the challenge. Lampard stepped up, but sent the free kick just over the bar.

    The match then went quiet, as Villa looked to frustrate Chelsea in midfield; with Makelele seeing a cross caught by Sorensen.

    Three minutes later, Sorensen was called into action again, saving a Drogba shot from a tight angle, and then saving Ballack’s header from the resulting corner.

    As the match entered the last fifteen minutes and extra time loomed, Lampard looked to get his name on the scoresheet, but again Sorensen was on hand to save his shot.

    Then, in the 78th minute, Bouma looked to clear the ball out of defence, but his clearance was blocked by Essien. Drogba pounced on the loose ball, and ran into the area, holding off Gareth Barry, before letting fly with a shot which beat Sorensen at his near post.

    “Chelsea’s persistence has paid off at last!” Kick Off exclaimed, “And once again, it’s Drogba who scores a vital goal! Twelve minutes to go, and Chelsea lead in the FA Cup semi final!”

    Now, it was Villa who looked to attack, but it wasn’t until the 86th minute that they looked like creating something. McCann passed to Agbonlahor, who played the ball on to Bardsley. Bardsley looked to cross from distance, but Ballack was there to intercept.

    Chelsea finished the match stronger, and could even have doubled their lead in the final minutes. With a minute to go, Drogba was played in by Gudjohnsen. He let fly from a tight angle, with his shot being saved by Sorensen. Then, in the second minute of added time, a cross by Ballack was headed clear by Mellberg. Makelele intercepted the ball and passed to Gudjohnsen, who saw his shot tipped wide.

    Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa (Joe Cole 39, Drogba 78; Agbonlahor 22)

    “And the final whistle goes, and Chelsea are going to Wembley!” Kick Off said, “They won the last FA Cup Final to be played at the Old Wembley, and now, they will be playing Everton in the first FA Cup Final at the New Wembley! Aston Villa, meanwhile, see their hopes of a first FA Cup in over 50 years dashed; a season which started so brightly will now only deliver a mid-table finish…”

    In the stands, the Chelsea supporters were in full voice, singing a song which had not been sung for six years.

    “Que sera sera, whatever will be will be, we’re going to Wembley…”

    A/N: Between 2000 and 2007, domestic cup finals were played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff while Wembley Stadium was rebuilt.

    From the 2007/08 season onwards, all FA Cup semi finals have been played at Wembley.

    “Goalato” is the football-themed ice cream parlour which appeared in “A Time to Bloom”.
  2. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Chapter 38

    Relegation Crossfire

    It’s getting tickly now - squeaky bum time, I call it.” - Sir Alex Ferguson, 2003

    Wednesday 18th April

    As the title race heated up with five matches to go, things were no less tight down at the bottom of the table. Whilst Watford looked doomed, lying eight points adrift of safety, only six points separated Fulham in 15th and West Ham in 19th.

    “Chelsea travel to the Boleyn Ground tonight looking to cut Manchester United’s lead back to five points,” Breaking News said on Autumn’s radio, as the Foal Protection Services caseworker filled out a request for yet another visitation form, “United currently hold an eight point lead at the top of the table, but Chelsea’s league match at the weekend was rearranged due to the FA Cup semi final. Alan Curbishley has said that his side must get a point to bolster their hopes of staying in the Premier League…”

    Football could be incredibly ironic sometimes. At this time last season (and just under two months before Dinky’s unexpected arrival into my life), Alan Pardew had been manager of West Ham and Alan Curbishley had been manager of Charlton, with both sides comfortably in mid-table. Now, the two had switched clubs, and both sides were fighting relegation.

    Unfortunately, while the fixtures against the bottom five clubs looked easy on paper, this was when sides fighting relegation began to fight tooth and nail for their survival. Aston Villa could attest to that; during the very first Premier League season in 1993, they had lost 1-0 at home to Oldham Athletic, thus handing Manchester United the title. Last season, Manchester United had suffered a 0-0 home draw against Sunderland which had all but handed the title to Chelsea.

    “Well, these teams are the last teams you want to play against at this stage,” Kick Off said, as a shot by Carlos Tevez flashed wide of the post, “This looked like a mismatch, second bottom against second, but West Ham are playing as though their lives depended on it!”

    “Well, their recent form has been telling,” Full Time added, “They’ve really put a good run together recently.”

    Five minutes into the second half, there was just one goal separating the two sides. After an extremely scrappy first half, the deadlock had been broken three minutes after the break. A shot from Drogba was tipped behind by Green and, from the resulting corner, Essien had headed the ball down to Mikel, who volleyed it past Green to give Chelsea the lead with his first ever goal for the club.

    West Ham looked to get back into the match, but Chelsea’s back four held firm. The next attack took place ten minutes later, when Lampard got out wide and crossed the ball in, with Ferdinand clearing the cross ahead of Drogba.

    Five minutes after that, Shaun Wright-Phillips took off down the right, sending in a cross which Drogba connected with, only to see his header saved by Green.

    The home side had barely threatened, but with twenty minutes to go, a long aerial ball found Tevez, whose first time volley went high over the bar.

    This proved to be a wake up call for Chelsea, who looked to put the result beyond doubt. Four minutes later, Lampard played the ball to Joe Cole, who got out wide down the right and swung in a cross. Ferdinand headed the ball clear, but Lampard intercepted and sent a shot just wide.

    With just over ten minutes left, Yossi Benayoun sent a cross into the area, but it was caught by Cech. Chelsea then closed the game out to collect another three vital points.

    West Ham United 0-1 Chelsea (Mikel 48)

    Friday 20th April

    There was something about the carriage parked outside her house that made Diamond Tiara highly suspicious - possibly the tinted windows. She tentatively entered the front door, and noticed, in the sitting room, her mother and Belladonna Nightshade. She was too far away to hear their full conversation, but she definitely didn’t like what she did hear. As quickly and quietly as she could, she hurried up to her room, turning on the radio to hopefully allay any potential suspicion. She quickly looked at her alarm clock - it was ten past three, meaning that there was still time.

    “Jose Mourinho has said that Chelsea must stay focused with four matches of the season to go…”

    She grabbed a quill and her letter-writing set and quickly wrote down what she had heard.

    “...Sheffield United are still struggling in seventeenth. In this weekend’s big match, however, Manchester United host Arsenal…”

    She quickly hurried down the stairs as Breaking News announced that the Old Firm Derby could decide the winner of the Scottish Premier League and, ensuring that neither pony in the sitting room saw her, quickly exited the house and bolted off in the direction of the post office.

    “I’m sorry, but Ms Hooves is busy right n-” Lyra said to Diamond Tiara a few minutes later, having answered the door.

    “Actually, this needs to get to you,” Diamond Tiara replied breathlessly, “This could be important, but Belladonna must not see it.”

    Lyra raised an eyebrow, but took the envelope anyway and then went back to her meeting with Derpy.

    Saturday 21st April

    “Over to you, Wenger,” I said, as the final whistle blew and Blue is the Colour sounded from the tannoy.

    Compared to the West Ham game, the home match against Sheffield United had been a lot easier. Chelsea had dominated from the start, and midway through the first half, John Terry had risen highest to head the ball into the net from a corner. Seven minutes later, Lampard had doubled Chelsea’s lead, with a powerful shot which gave Kenny no chance.

    Chelsea hadn’t got out of second gear, but the visitors had visibly wilted once the second goal had gone in, which Neil Warnock hadn’t been at all pleased about. With just under twenty minutes left, Eidur Gudjohnsen had made it three, and Chelsea had then closed the game out, conserving their energy for the upcoming match against Barcelona.

    Chelsea 3-0 Sheffield United (Terry 22, Lampard 29, Gudjohnsen 72)

    “By the way,” I said, as we made our way home, “Here-” I handed Rainbow Dash an envelope “-are your tickets to the second leg against Barcelona and the FA Cup Final.”

    Sunday 21st April

    “...now it’s Fabregas for Arsenal,” Martin Tyler said, as the Man Utd-Arsenal game entered its last five minutes, “Plays it to Van Persie out wide. Julio Baptista taking over, now, and it’s played to Rosicky on the left. Rosicky sends a low ball into the area, here’s Adebayor, goes for a low shot, and it’s in! Arsenal have pegged Manchester United back again! It’s a vital goal for Arsenal, but it’s an even more vital goal for Chelsea!”

    Eight minutes later, the final whistle went, and as a furious-looking Sir Alex Ferguson shook hands with Wenger before storming down the tunnel, Dinky jumped into me, attempting to pull me into a hug, while Derpy and Rainbow Dash whooped with joy in the Traveller’s Rest.

    Manchester United 2-2 Arsenal (Scholes 21, Rooney 64; Henry 48, Adebayor 86)

    As the end of the season loomed, Manchester United’s lead over Chelsea had been cut from eleven points at the beginning of February, to three points with three matches left.

    Premier League Table

    1 Man Utd 80pts
    2 Chelsea 77pts
    3 Arsenal 72pts
    4 Liverpool 68pts
    5 Tottenham 58pts
    6 Everton 54pts

    16 Wigan 35pts
    17 Sheffield Utd 34pts
    18 West Ham 32pts
    19 Charlton 31pts
    20 Watford 27pts
  3. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Chapter 39

    The Toughest Test

    Tuesday 24th April

    “Ahead of tonight’s Champions League semi final match against Barcelona, Jose Mourinho has said that the Treble is not on Chelsea’s minds…”

    “So who are you backing?” Lyra asked.

    “Barcelona,” Autumn replied. “I backed them for the Champions League before it started and I’m sticking to it.”

    Although, any of the semi finalists could win it,” Lyra responded, “After all, Milan against United is bound to be just as tasty.”

    “...John Terry has said that Chelsea are not scared of Barca, although the Blues will be without Ricardo Carvalho for the first leg…”

    “To be honest, if we were scared of Barca, they’d pretty much be through before the ball was kicked,” I said, as the two of us prepared to leave for the match, “And it’s like I said before the first group match-

    “-if you want to win this competition, you have to be able to beat the best teams in Europe.” Dinky finished, “Or in this case, the best team in Europe.”

    That wasn’t an exaggeration. Barcelona had won the Champions League the season before and were still top of La Liga, despite having been beaten 2-0 at Villareal at the weekend.

    “A real treat in prospect for you here tonight,” Kick Off announced, “Chelsea against Barcelona, in the semi finals of the Champions League. Jose Mourinho pits his wits against Frank Rijkaard for a third consecutive season, and Terry, Lampard, Ballack, Joe Cole, Robben and Drogba go toe-to-toe with Ronaldinho, Messi, Eto’o, Deco, Xavi and Puyol over the two legs for a place in the Champions League Final…”

    “We’re going to need a good start here,” Rainbow Dash said as we took our seats.

    And a good start is exactly what happened. Four minutes in, a pass from Makelele found Robben, who sent a diagonal ball into the area for Joe Cole to fire into the net.

    However, Barcelona were the Champions League holders and favourites for a reason, and got back into the game, with Cech having to be alert to keep out Ronaldinho and Eto’o.

    Just after the half hour, however, a pass from Xavi set up Ronaldinho, who played it on to Deco. Deco raced into the area and slipped the ball under Cech to give Barcelona the equaliser.

    “If you’ve just joined us, there’s ten minutes of the first half left,” Kick Off said, as Messi was forced into touch, giving Chelsea a throw-in, “And nothing separates the two sides, except for that Barcelona away goal.”

    “Indeed,” Full Time agreed, “Chelsea know that they must take a lead back to the Nou Camp if they’re going to stand a real chance of going through.”

    Neither side was looking to sit back, and in the 38th minute, Lampard played in Ashley Cole, who set off on a run down the left. He sent a cross in which was too high for Puyol to head clear, and Drogba beat Rafael Marquez and Edmilson before seeing his shot tipped wide by Valdes.

    Four minutes later, Barcelona went on the attack, and a long cross from Deco was headed clear by Ashley Cole. Xavi picked up on the loose ball, and passed it to Messi, who got into the area and went for goal. His shot was parried by Cech and Ashley Cole tried to clear, but the clearance was deflected to Messi, who fired over the bar from a tight angle.

    From the resulting goal kick, Edmilson lost the ball to Drogba, who set off on a run into the Barcelona half. As he bore down on goal, however, he was brought down just outside the area.

    “Free kick to Chelsea,” Kick Off said, “And now, what’s De Bleeckere going to give here, he’s calling Sylvinho over...and it’s a red card! The former Arsenal player was deemed to be the last man, and Barcelona are down to ten men!”

    Frank Lampard stepped up, but the free kick struck the wall and was cleared. As the half entered stoppage time, however, Makelele entered the Barcelona half before passing to Robben on the left. Robben took the ball down the wing before sending a cross into the area, where Joe Cole, holding off Marquez, raced in to connect. His shot was parried by Valdes, but Drogba pounced on the rebound to restore Chelsea’s lead.

    “So, Chelsea a goal up and a man up,” Kick Off said, as the half time whistle went.

    “The first ten minutes of the half are going to be so important,” Full Time added, “Barca need to resist Chelsea, and keep it at one goal while looking to catch Chelsea on the break.”

    However, Chelsea, and Joe Cole, had other ideas. Seven minutes into the second half, Ballack fed Joe Cole in, and he set off down the right, leaving van Bronckhorst behind, before whipping a cross into the area. Drogba beat Puyol in the air and headed the ball past Valdes at the near post to give Chelsea a two-goal lead.

    In the 55th minute, Joe Cole once again marauded down the right, before passing to Drogba. Drogba fed the ball on to Robben, who was tackled by Zambrotta before he could cross.

    On the hour mark, Drogba looked to turn provider, passing to Joe Cole. Marquez, however, was able to clear before it got anywhere.

    Four minutes later, Barcelona launched a rare attack. Messi got down the right before crossing into the area. Ronaldinho connected with the ball and volleyed goalwards, but a diving save from Cech kept the ball out. The ball looked to be falling for Eto’o, but Ashley Cole headed the ball clear before Essien was able to blast it up the pitch.

    Barcelona were now beginning to grow frustrated, and with just under 20 minutes left, Eto’o was booked for a tackle from behind. From the free kick, a cross by Joe Cole was headed clear by Xavi. Ballack took control of the loose ball and passed to Joe Cole, whose cross was cleared by Puyol.

    Joe Cole was giving van Bronckhorst a torrid time on the right, and four minutes later, he sent in another cross, which was caught by Valdes.

    The match then entered a quiet period, giving the home crowd a chance to catch their breaths. With a minute to go, another Joe Cole cross was cleared behind by Marquez, with the corner being cleared.

    Chelsea 3-1 Barcelona (Joe Cole 4, Drogba 45+1, 52; Deco 32, Sylvinho s/o 44)

    “There’s the whistle, and Chelsea pass their toughest test so far with flying colours!” Kick Off exclaimed, as Derpy leapt about a foot in the air in the Traveller’s Rest, “They take a two goal lead to the Nou Camp next week, and only Puyol and Marquez prevented it from being a rout; once Sylvinho was sent off it was all Chelsea. All eyes on the San Siro for tomorrow’s semi final, but tonight belongs to Joe Cole, he was instrumental!”

    “I’d say that this edges the 4-2 from two seasons ago,” I said, as we made our way back, “The 4-2 may have been more exciting, but it was in the second round. To win a semi final match so convincingly, even if it is just the first leg...well, after that, we fear no one.”

    Thursday 26th April

    “Just as tasty, you said,” Autumn said, as Lyra entered her office.

    After the Chelsea-Barcelona game, the first leg of the other semi final, between AC Milan and Manchester United, had ended in a drab 0-0 draw.

    “...with the two sides all square after last night’s match in the San Siro.” Breaking News said on the radio, “Meanwhile, there is a growing sense at Chelsea that this will be “third time lucky” for the Blues; before they go to the Nou Camp, however, they travel to Wigan on Saturday...”

    “Is Dinky being taken to the second leg?” Autumn asked.

    “Yes,” Lyra replied, “Her guardian offered her the chance barely two hours after the end of the quarter final and she said yes. Shame that they’re only there for the match, though. Barcelona’s a fantastic place, I went there on holiday a few years ago. Besides,” she added, to allay any potential fears Autumn might have had, “Rainbow Dash is going as well, and the three of them will be together.”
  4. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Chapter 40

    Title in Sight

    But I'll tell you - you can tell him if you're watching it - we're still fighting for this title, and he's got to go to Middlesbrough and get something, and…and I tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them, love it!” - Kevin Keegan, 1996

    Saturday 28th April

    With three matches of the Premier League season left, the title race was wide open. Many eyebrows had been raised back in the summer when the fixture computer had pitted Chelsea against Manchester United on the final day of the season, but it seemed that the season was lining up for a grandstand finish.

    “Final away league match today,” I said, as Dinky cuddled up to me, “Wigan away, 5:30 kick off, but you knew that when our tickets arrived,”

    “So if United drop points…” Dinky said.

    “As long as we win our next two, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with United until we play them,” I said, “We can’t do anything about them until the final league match.”

    After finishing her breakfast, Dinky trotted through the sitting room, where Sky Sports was explaining what each side in the relegation zone needed to do to stay up, and went to the table next to the door. She picked up the postcard that had been left for her and carried it into her room, where she’d read it that night.

    “Welcome to our final live match today,” Big Match said, as Sport 1 began its coverage from the JJB Stadium in Wigan, “Firstly, a reminder of how the table looks at the top…”

    1 Man Utd P36 83pts
    2 Chelsea P35 77pts

    “...and at the bottom.”

    16 Wigan P35 35pts
    17 West Ham P36 35pts
    18 Sheffield Utd P36 34pts
    19 Charlton P36 31pts
    R Watford P36 27pts

    “...West Ham’s win at Watford condemned the Hornets to relegation this afternoon, but Wigan aren’t out of the woods by any means. Defeat today would keep them nervously looking over their shoulders…”

    Wigan seemed to know this, as they dug deep from the beginning, looking to grind out a point that would move them clear of West Ham. Chelsea dominated the opening 40 minutes, looking to get the win which would keep them hot on the heels of Manchester United, but it seemed that the home side would hold firm.

    A minute before the break, however, a shot by Kalou was tipped wide by Kirkland. Lampard’s corner was met by John Terry, who powered a header into the net to give Chelsea the goal they needed.

    “So, Chelsea know that their fate is in their hands,” Kick Off said, as the teams came out for the second half, “As it stands, they are on their way to another win, to set up a mouth-watering final day showdown.”

    “Yes, but they can’t get ahead of themselves,” Full Time added, “They have to take it one game at a time, and of course they face Barcelona on Wednesday night so they’ve got to factor that in as well.”

    Chelsea, however, seemed fully focused on the task at hand. Three minutes after the break, Salomon Kalou broke away down the left, sending in a cross which was volleyed wide by Shaun Wright-Phillips.

    Wigan had barely threatened all match, but now they had to go forward to get back into the match. In the 52nd minute, Haested looked to send a lofted ball into the area, but it didn’t reach anyone and went out for a goal kick.

    As the hour mark approached, yet another scrappy midfield battle saw Lampard get forward, playing the ball into the area for Gudjohnsen. Gudjohnsen then played in Wright-Phillips, who saw his shot saved by Kirkland. Mikel was the next to try his luck, volleying the ball wide from a cross by Ashley Cole.

    “Well, this is not the most memorable game by any means,” Kick Off said, as Makelele came on to replace Boulahrouz, “But Chelsea are on course for three points.”

    However, Man Utd had a superior goal difference, and as such, getting at least a second goal was vital. And, with just over fifteen minutes left, Terry tackled Emile Heskey in the centre circle and played the ball through to Lampard, who looked to pass forward. Lampard’s pass was intercepted, but David Unsworth lost the ball to Gudjohnsen. Gudjohnsen needed no prompting, and took the ball into the area before sliding it past Kirkland into the bottom corner of the net to double Chelsea’s lead.

    “There’s the second,” Kick Off exclaimed, as Gudjohnsen wheeled away to celebrate, “A terrible defensive error there by Wigan, and you just can't do that against Chelsea, especially with the form they’ve been in of late!”

    Gudjohnsen was withdrawn shortly afterwards and replaced by Danny Doyle, who’d suffered a spate of niggling injuries throughout the latter half of the season.

    Wigan did start to come forward a bit more as the match entered its final stages. With around three minutes left, a cross into the area was cleared behind, forcing a corner, which was also cleared behind for another corner. The second corner, however, was cleared up the field.

    In the final minute, Ashley Cole was penalised for handball, giving Wigan a free kick around thirty yards from goal. Former Sunderland player Kevin Kilbane went for goal, but couldn’t get it on target.

    Wigan Athletic 0-2 Chelsea (Terry 44, Gudjohnsen 73)

    “There it is, it’s another win for Chelsea,” Kick Off said, “And they keep the pressure on Manchester United. Two matches to go, and the two sides meet at Stamford Bridge on the final day of the season in what looks increasingly likely to be a showdown for the title. Chelsea host Charlton next Saturday, in a match that will have huge implications at both ends of the table…”

    Premier League Table

    1 Man Utd 83pts
    2 Chelsea 80pts
    3 Arsenal 75pts
    4 Liverpool 69pts
    5 Tottenham 61pts
    6 Everton 54pts

    16 West Ham 35pts
    17 Wigan 35pts
    18 Sheffield Utd 34pts
    19 Charlton 31pts
    R Watford 27pts

    “What we need to do now, league-wise, is put as many past Charlton as we can next Saturday,” I said, as the train headed south, “If we’re going to go into the last match three points behind, we need to almost match United’s goal difference. However, before that, Rainbow Dash will be arriving on Tuesday morning and we’ll fly out to Barcelona in the afternoon.”

    A/N: The chapter quote comes from an infamous interview given by Kevin Keegan, then Newcastle manager, to Sky Sports at the end of the 1995/96 season.
    #44 Wessexbrony, 9 March 2019
    Last edited: 9 March 2019
  5. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Chapter 41

    The Toughest Test, Part 2

    Tuesday 1st May

    “Welcome to Barcelona,” I said, as the three of us disembarked from the British Airways flight.

    “You’ve been here before?” Dinky asked.

    “Champions League Round of 16 second leg, last season,” I said, “But this time, we’re the ones with a lead from the first leg.”

    “So where are we staying?” Rainbow Dash asked.

    “The Senator hotel,” I replied, “Ever been in a rooftop swimming pool?”

    “That’s where we’ll be tomorrow,” I said, pointing towards the gigantic stadium as the three of us stood on the rooftop, looking out over the city lights of Barcelona.

    As we headed to our room after a drink at the rooftop bar, Dinky cast one last look up at the night sky, as if sending a silent message somewhere.

    Wednesday 2nd May

    Two jaws dropped as the ponies they belonged to got their first real look at the Nou Camp.

    “It’s even more spectacular at night,” I said, as we headed into the ground for the guided tour.

    “...Barcelona are hoping for a second consecutive Champions League Final appearance, but they have it all to do tonight,” Breaking News said on the radio, as Autumn sipped a cup of tea, “They go into the second leg two goals down and without the suspended Sylvinho…”

    “Following that fantastic win in the first leg last week, Chelsea take a two-goal lead to the Nou Camp, the home of Barcelona, with possibly their best chance to date of reaching the Champions League Final,” Kick Off said, as the cameras showed the supporters arriving at the ground and Lyra joined Derpy and Twilight in a packed Traveller’s Rest.

    “Here we are,” I said, as Dinky hopped off Rainbow Dash’s back at the top of the huge number of stairs leading to the away section.

    “Well, the stakes could not be higher,” Kick Off said, as the teams walked onto the pitch, “Chelsea are within touching distance of the Champions League Final, holding a two-goal lead from the first leg. But Barcelona know that a two-nil win would see them through thanks to their away goal. Milan await the victors after their 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last night saw them through on away goals.”

    “For both sides, it’s time to be positive,” Full Time said, “They need to forget about Milan, and focus on tonight.”

    Having it all to do, it was Barcelona who started with more urgency. Five minutes in, Edmilson tackled Joe Cole and played an aerial pass to Eto’o, who got into the area before shooting high over the bar.

    Two minutes later, Edmilson played a pass to Xavi, who played the ball on to Eto’o. Eto’o then squared the ball to Ronaldinho, who got into the area before beating Cech at his near post.

    “Well, it gets interesting now!” Kick Off said, “Barcelona needed that; they have to win 2-0 to go through, now we see how Chelsea respond!”

    Chelsea looked to respond in the thirteenth minute, as Joe Cole got down the right and saw a cross cleared by Puyol, before the Blues saw a series of away attacks thwarted.

    In the 24th minute, Ronaldinho once again got down the left, sending in a cross which was cleared by Ashley Cole ahead of Messi. Then, Gudjohnsen beat Marquez near the halfway line.

    “Oh, and Barcelona have been caught cold here, and this could be a vital moment-!” Kick Off exclaimed, as Gudjohnsen raced into the opposing half virtually unopposed.

    Gudjohnsen held off Zambrotta as he got into the area, before letting fly. His shot was saved by Valdes, but Robben pounced on the rebound and steered it into the empty net.

    “What a counter by Chelsea!” Kick Off said, as Robben was mobbed by his team-mates and, up in the stands, Dinky visibly relaxed, “Arjen Robben cancels out Barcelona’s away goal; it’s one-all on the night, and Chelsea lead four-two on aggregate!”

    Emboldened by that equaliser, Chelsea now began to take the ascendancy. Ten minutes before half time, Gudjohnsen found Joe Cole, who got away down the right and held off van Bronckhorst, sending a cross into the area. Robben got to the ball ahead of Xavi and Edmilson, but his shot hit the side netting. Five minutes later, Terry tackled Messi just outside the Chelsea area and passed to Makelele, who played the ball on to Joe Cole. Cole got into the area, and only a block by Zambrotta prevented another cross.

    As the half time interval approached, Edmilson played in Eto'o, who passed to Ronaldinho. Ronaldinho looked to cross into the area, but his cross evaded everyone as Terry successfully kept Eto'o at bay.

    “45 minutes left of this Champions League semi final,” Kick Off said as the teams left the pitch at half time, “Chelsea in the driving seat, and the next goal will be so crucial; if Barca get it, it's game on, but if Chelsea get it, it's game over!”

    Chelsea looked to get at their opponents in the second half, and five minutes in Robben got down the left and sent in a cross. The cross was headed clear by Marquez as far as Lampard, who shot wide from distance.

    Five minutes later, Gudjohnsen played in Robben, who took off down the left again, getting past Zambrotta before sending in a cross. This time, Gudjohnsen got to the ball ahead of Puyol, but he sent his shot wide.

    Once again, Chelsea's wingers were proving instrumental, with Robben marauding down the left flank again on the hour mark after Ashley Cole intercepted a pass from Eto'o, only to be pulled back by Xavi. The free kick was cleared, but a foul on Makelele saw Chelsea awarded another free kick in what Kick Off called “Frank Lampard territory” as Barcelona brought on Ludovic Giuly for Xavi to increase the attacking options.

    Lampard stepped up and sent a dipping shot over the wall and into the top corner, giving Valdes no chance.

    “How about that!” Kick Off exclaimed, as Mourinho did a knee-slide in his technical area and, in the Traveller's Rest, Derpy shouted “Get in there!”, “Frank Lampard gives Chelsea the lead in the Nou Camp! It's 2-1 to Chelsea on the night, it's 5-2 to Chelsea on aggregate!”

    “We've done it, we're through to the final!” Rainbow Dash shouted.

    “But there's still half an hour left-” Dinky replied.

    “Doesn't matter,” I said, as I pulled her into a hug, “We have two away goals now, they have to score four in that half an hour!”

    The final half hour passed almost in a blur. It was practically all Chelsea, with Cech catching a Ronaldinho lob in the 68th minute. As the game entered the final fifteen minutes, a corner by Lampard was punched clear by Valdes and a free kick was headed clear by Zambrotta.

    With five minutes left, a cross by van Bronckhorst was headed clear by Ashley Cole before Gudjohnsen headed wide from a Joe Cole cross. In the first minute of stoppage time, a cross from Eto’o was headed clear by Ashley Cole as far as Giuly, who blasted a first time shot high and wide to sum up Barcelona’s evening.

    Seconds later, Stefano Farina blew the final whistle.

    Barcelona 1-2 Chelsea (Ronaldinho 7; Robben 26, Lampard 61) Chelsea win 5-2 on aggregate

    “The best team in Europe couldn’t stop them; who can stop Chelsea now?” Kick Off said, “The treble is on, they’re through to the Champions League Final!”

    “And after they’ve been dogged by injuries, by drama,” Full Time added, “I’d say that this season has almost been like a soap opera…”

    It was, excepting travel back from certain away matches, the longest that Dinky had stayed up since the World Cup Final in July. The three of us relaxed in the pool on the hotel’s rooftop after getting back from the stadium, once again looking out over the city lights and occasionally catching the faint sounds of a Chelsea song from down in the city.

    Thursday 6th May

    Derpy hung her cap on its hook and reached into her postbag, taking out the Barcelona postcard that Rainbow Dash had given her. The message was short, but sweet.

    Dear Mommy,

    Champions League Final, here we come!

    All my love,


    Having put Dinky to bed that night, I glanced at the framed poem opposite her bed as I left the room. Two lines stood out to me.

    But my fondest wish is greater, than every one before,
    And that’s for a bright future for the muffin I adore.

    “Three points off the title and still to play United, and in the FA Cup Final and the Champions League Final,” I muttered to myself, as I went to watch the news, “And given that we’ve just won in the Nou Camp, I think it’s looking very bright.”
  6. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Chapter 42

    Judge and Jury

    Friday 4th May

    “Are you sure you don't want one?” I asked.

    “I'm sorry,” Derpy replied on the other end of the phone, “But I just wouldn't be able to bear it if we lost and my Muffin was snatched away again.”

    That was probably to be expected; she’d turned down my offer of an FA Cup Final ticket for the exact same reason.

    Saturday 5th May

    “Games against teams fighting relegation tend to go two ways,” I said, as I gave Dinky her plate of microwaveable pancakes, “Either they fight tooth and nail like Southampton did against Man Utd two years ago, or they collapse completely like Norwich did at Fulham that same season.”

    “So this could be difficult? I know you said not to worry about United, but their goal difference…”

    “Charlton have been in freefall for weeks,” I replied. “In fact, they’ll go down anyway if West Ham beat Newcastle.”

    “A huge match at both ends of the table,” Kick Off said, “And two contrasting moods with two matches to go. For Chelsea, the mood is optimistic; they are ecstatic to be in their first ever Champions League Final thanks, in no small part, to that fantastic win in the Nou Camp, and they know that The Treble is now a very real possibility. For Charlton, however, it’s a mood of resignation; not only do they have to win their last two matches, including today’s match at Stamford Bridge, but they have to hope that results elsewhere go their way if they are to avoid relegation…”

    “We’ll be fine, Dinks,” Rainbow Dash said as we took our seats, “We’ve won at Old Trafford, The Emirates, Anfield and the Nou Camp; this lot shouldn’t be any trouble.”

    “Well, it’s so far, so good for Chelsea,” Kick Off said as the teams walked onto the pitch, “This is a match they should win, in fact, it’s a match they must win to keep in touch with Manchester United. They cannot afford sympathy at this stage; if Charlton go down, they go down.”

    “Indeed,” Full Time added, “When you’re chasing three trophies like they are, then if you send a team down along the way, so be it.”

    Chelsea knew that a big win was vital with United playing later, and in the sixth minute Joe Cole played a one-two with Drogba before getting to the edge of the area and going for goal, only to see his shot parried by Scott Carson and cleared. Six minutes later, Robben took the ball down the left, sending in a cross which was volleyed wide by Joe Cole.

    In the sixteenth minute, Ballack tackled Reid and passed to Joe Cole, who played the ball to Drogba. Drogba ran to the edge of the area and played in Robben, who sent the ball wide. Two minutes later, Drogba passed to Lampard, who kept the ball moving to Robben. Robben got into the area and centred the ball, only for Ben Thatcher to get to the ball ahead of Drogba and clear it.

    “Well, Chelsea are all over Charlton,” Kick Off said, as the camera focused on Mourinho in the Chelsea dugout, “But they are still yet to score. You get the feeling that once the first goal comes, more will follow, but it’s a case of getting that first goal.”

    In the 26th minute, Robben got down the left, before suddenly switching direction and leaving El Karkouri standing. He passed to Lampard, who let fly from the edge of the area. His shot was tipped against the post by Carson, but Drogba raced in to steal the ball from Thatcher and steer the ball into the net to break the deadlock.

    Four minutes later, as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink looked to set up an attack, Lampard took the ball off his former team-mate and ran through the Charlton half, beating Luke Young before seemingly being stopped by El Karkouri. However, he recovered, and regained possession before shooting from the edge of the area. Carson got his hands to the ball, but was unable to prevent it from going into the net.

    Just over ten minutes before the break, a Charlton attack broke down, with Terry intercepting the ball and passing it to Makelele. Makelele played the ball to Lampard, who kept it moving to Ballack. Ballack then passed to Joe Cole, who took the ball into the area before sending it across Carson into the top corner of the net.

    “What a spell by Chelsea!” Kick Off exclaimed, as Joe Cole celebrated, “Three goals in less than ten minutes! Surely no way back for Charlton, who seem to be sinking without trace, from both this match and from the Premier League!”

    Just before half time, Lampard passed to Ashley Cole, who got down the left before passing to Robben. Robben’s shot deflected off El Karkouri, but Thatcher missed the header and Joe Cole smashed the ball into the top left corner.

    “Well, I can say that we’ve won this one,” I said, as the teams left the pitch. “But a few more would be good to really erase United’s goal difference advantage.”

    However, with three vital matches coming up, Mourinho brought Doyle on for Drogba at half time. Seven minutes into the half, Ballack robbed Faye. Hreidarsson intercepted and passed to Reid. Ballack, however, retook the ball, and ran to the edge of the area sent the ball wide of the mark.

    In the 57th minute, a high ball was intercepted by Essien, who passed to Joe Cole. Joe Cole played the ball to Doyle, who ran at the Charlton defence before playing in Robben. Robben got into the area, before shooting wide.

    Seven minutes later, a clearance was headed back by Carvalho to Makelele, who robbed Holland before sending a long ball to Doyle. Doyle got into the area, before seeing a shot blocked by Hreidarsson.

    Charlton had barely threatened, but with twenty minutes left, a cross from Darren Bent was headed clear by Terry. Holland got to the loose ball and passed to Hasselbaink, who fired wide as Diawara came on to replace Ben Thatcher.

    Three minutes later, Joe Cole got down the right and sent in a cross, which Robben connected with and sent a low volley into the net to add a fifth goal. At this point, a number of away fans decided that they’d seen enough, and began to leave.

    Chelsea were in no mood for letting up, and as the match entered its last ten minutes, both Ballack and Doyle were denied by Carson. With two minutes to go, Joe Cole played a through ball to Doyle, who got into the area and sent a low shot past Carson to add a sixth for his sixth goal of the season.

    Chelsea 6-0 Charlton Athletic (Drogba 26, Lampard 30, Joe Cole 34, 45+1, Robben 73, Doyle 88)

    “There’s the whistle, and Charlton’s seven-year spell in the top flight comes to an end,” Kick Off said, “They needed a massive performance today, but they came up against the juggernaut that Chelsea have been in recent weeks. Chelsea were judge and jury today; they sentenced their opponents to the drop and carried out the sentence themselves. And while Charlton have to come to terms with the prospect of playing in the Championship, all eyes will be on the final day showdown here next Sunday when Chelsea and Manchester United battle it out for the title!”

    “We’ve cancelled out United’s advantage in goal difference with that win,” I said, as we left the stadium, “In fact, if they lose at Aston Villa, we’ll only need a draw. Now, how would you like to go to Goalato?”

    However, two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and one from Paul Scholes in the second half ensured that United would go into the final day with the initiative, while West Ham and Wigan both lost to ensure that the relegation dogfight would go to the final day.

    Premier League Table

    1 Man Utd 86pts GD +55
    2 Chelsea 83pts GD +52
    3 Arsenal 78pts GD +31
    4 Liverpool 72pts GD +22
    5 Tottenham 61pts GD +25
    6 Bolton 55pts GD +18

    16 Sheffield United 37pts GD -22
    17 West Ham 35pts GD -25
    18 Wigan 35pts GD -28
    R Charlton 31pts GD -36
    R Watford 27pts GD -30

    Wednesday 9th May

    As Dinky took the post to the kitchen table, she noticed an envelope that looked different to the others. It had the Chelsea club logo on it, but also the Champions League logo.

    “Actually, why don’t you open it?” I said, when she handed it to me.

    She carefully did so...and out dropped three tickets to the Champions League Final.

    “But I thought Mommy didn’t want to come…”

    “Unfortunately, she didn’t,” I said, “Otherwise there would have been four in there. Rainbow Dash, however, definitely does want to come.”
  7. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Chapter 43

    Zero Hour

    Sunday 13th May

    As the final game of the Premier League season approached, there were still two unanswered questions. The first one was whether Wigan, West Ham or Sheffield United would be relegated, joining Watford and Charlton in the Championship the following season. The second, and more important from many points of view, was whether the title would go back to Old Trafford for the first time in four years, or remain at Stamford Bridge for the third season running.

    “Final day of the league season,” I said, as Dinky cuddled up to me, “And it seems like only yesterday that we were due to host West Ham.”

    “So this is a direct shootout for the title?” Dinky asked.

    “Almost,” I said, “Due to goal difference, we need to win 2-0 or better. But we beat them 2-0 at Old Trafford back in October, so it’s certainly possible.”

    Sky Sports News covered the game in greater detail as I put some pancakes in the microwave and a muffin in the toaster before frying a couple of eggs.

    “...and so a reminder that this is how the league table looks ahead of today’s title showdown at Stamford Bridge:

    1 Man Utd 86pts GD +55
    2 Chelsea 83pts GD +52

    Chelsea, therefore, must win by at least two goals to finish as champions. Manchester United’s fans and players, when asked by Sky Sports News, have said that they are fully confident of taking the title, whilst in an interview yesterday, John Terry said that the fans could make the difference…”

    I allowed myself a smile as Dinky attacked her breakfast with gusto. Evidently, she’d taken my words from the morning of the Champions League game at Anfield to heart.

    “...down at the bottom, Sheffield United know that avoiding defeat will almost certainly be enough for them to stay in the Premier League…”

    “Ready?” I asked that afternoon.

    “We’re too close to be nervous now,” Dinky replied.

    “Welcome to the last Big Match Live of the Premier League season,” Big Match said, “Not since 1999 have we come into this day with the title still up for grabs, and not since 1989 has it been a direct shootout for the title.”

    “Well, we all know that the title will be decided here,” Kick Off said, as the camera showed the spectators - human and pony - arriving at the ground, “But who it’ll go to remains anyone’s guess. In the blue corner, an in-form Chelsea side with home advantage. In the red corner, Manchester United, who’ve been top since August and only need a draw, but have seen their lead at the top whittled away since March. And of course, it’s against United that Chelsea won the title last season - although they only needed a point.”

    The three of us took our seats. The teams were read out, Dinky and Rainbow Dash both took a deep breath, and then the Liquidator began to play.

    “When the fixtures were announced, who would have thought that the title would be decided by this one game?” Kick Off said, as the teams walked onto the pitch.

    “Well, Chelsea know that not only do they have to win, they have to win by two clear goals,” Full Time added.

    “This incredible title race has gone down to the last day, and both Mourinho and Ferguson name the sides you’d expect,” Kick Off said, “It’s Zero Hour in the title race, it’s Chelsea against Manchester United, and it’s live!”

    Chelsea went straight for the jugular from the start, and three minutes in, Lampard played a through ball to Joe Cole, who tackled Ferdinand before taking a shot which was tipped behind by van der Sar. The resulting corner was cleared, but only to Ashley Cole, whose shot was deflected to Makelele, who sent the ball wide.

    “It isn’t often that you see Makelele score…” Dinky muttered under her breath.

    “Too many in the box for him to pass,” Rainbow Dash replied.

    Chelsea continued to search for an early goal, and four minutes later, Robben got down the left before sending in a cross, which was cleared by Vidic ahead of Drogba.

    Whilst Kick Off and Full Time were commentating on this match, there were also updates from elsewhere in the league, especially down at the bottom.

    “We can tell you that there has been a goal at Bramall Lane, and it’s Ashley Young who’s opened the scoring for Aston Villa.” Kick Off said, “That doesn’t change anything at the bottom, though…”

    With fifteen minutes gone, a header back by Larsson was intercepted by Makelele, who passed to Ballack. Ballack played in Drogba, who beat Vidic in the area before Ferdinand cleared.

    Two minutes later, Drogba was penalised for jumping unfairly with Ronaldo, and a free kick was awarded. Ronaldo stepped up, and sent the ball against the post and out.

    “Should have done better there,” Kick Off said, as Derpy exhaled in the Traveller’s Rest, “That could have been game over if he’d scored.”

    Three minutes later, some good passing play by Chelsea saw Ballack get into the area. Ballack sent a cross in to Robben, who volleyed over.

    “Chelsea knocking at the door, but still unable to get in front,” Kick Off said, “And we can tell you that Wigan have taken the lead against Manchester City, so this is how things look at the bottom…”

    16 Wigan 38pts GD -27
    17 Sheffield United 37pts GD -23
    18 West Ham 36pts GD -25

    With just under 20 minutes of the half left, Robben again got down the left. This time, Drogba beat Vidic, but not van der Sar, who tipped the header wide.

    “Corner to Chelsea,” Kick Off said, “And a goal for Tottenham at White Hart Lane, meaning that West Ham really are going down as it stands.”

    The corner was cleared, but Makelele got to it and passed to Robben, who was fouled by Ferdinand. Lampard saw the free kick strike the wall, but recovered possession and crossed the ball into the area, where Drogba beat Vidic to the ball and volleyed it into the net.

    “Chelsea are in front at last,” Kick Off exclaimed, “Now, however, they need another, because this is the table as it stands…

    1 Man Utd 86pts +54
    2 Chelsea 86pts +53

    ...And news coming through as well that Rob Hulse has equalised for Sheffield United against Aston Villa.”

    In the 33rd minute, Essien passed to Ballack, who beat Henrik Larsson and Ryan Giggs before sending a long cross-field ball to Robben, who beat Gary Neville before crossing the ball in to Drogba. Drogba, however, saw his header tipped wide by van der Sar.

    Five minutes later, Drogba was brought down by Ferdinand just outside the area, earning the defender a yellow card. Lampard stepped up and fired the ball into the top corner, in an almost exact replica of his goal at Old Trafford.

    “What a vital goal!” Kick Off exclaimed, as the home crowd went wild, “Frank Lampard with the kind of free kick he’s become almost notorious for this season! And Chelsea, having been behind in the title race all season, are now top of the league! Sir Alex Ferguson is furious; his side may well have taken the title and thrown it away!”

    1 Chelsea 86pts +54
    2 Man Utd 86pts +53

    Chelsea now looked to add breathing space, and five minutes from the break Joe Cole headed just over from an Ashley Cole cross. As the interval loomed, a shot from Larsson was saved by Cech and cleared by Terry. Drogba then played in Robben, who got down the left and sent the ball into the area, where Joe Cole slid in only to poke the ball just wide.

    “So, a big 45 minutes to go,” Big Match said at half time, as I handed Dinky a muffin, “Chelsea, as it stands, are on course for the title, but if United were to score, they would go back on top.”

    The second half was considerably less frantic than the first, as Chelsea looked to keep United out. In fact, the most significant action Kick Off could report on was Aston Villa retaking the lead at Bramall Lane. Twelve minutes into the half, Joe Cole sent a cross into the area, with Neville keeping Robben at bay.

    “So, Park Ji-Sung comes on to replace Giggs,” Kick Off said, “And we are getting news that West Ham have equalised at White Hart Lane, but they would still be going down as it stands.”

    With just under fifteen minutes remaining, a Manchester United attack broke down and Essien, moved into midfield after Ferreira came on for Ballack, set off into the United half, ignoring Drogba to his right as he got to the edge of the box and fired the ball across van der Sar and into the opposite corner of the net.

    “That is surely the title now!” Kick Off exclaimed, as Rainbow Dash pulled Dinky into a hug and Derpy let out an ecstatic whoop in the Traveller’s Rest, “Michael Essien, with a fantastic breakaway goal, gives Chelsea breathing space! This is how it stands now…

    1 Chelsea 86pts GD +55
    2 Man Utd 86pts GD +52

    ...and we can also tell you that Carlos Tevez has given West Ham the lead at White Hart Lane, meaning that this is how things stand at the bottom!”

    16 West Ham 38pts GD -24
    17 Wigan 38pts GD -27
    18 Sheffield United 37pts GD -23

    “Well, Sir Alex Ferguson surely knows now that the game is up,” Kick Off said, as the game entered the last five minutes, “And so too must Neil Warnock, as Aston Villa now lead 3-1 at Bramall Lane…”

    As the match entered its closing stages, United desperately tried to salvage something. First, a long ball found Larsson, who hit the side netting from a tight angle, before a free kick was blasted high over the bar by Gary Neville.

    Three minutes of stoppage time were impatiently counted down by the Chelsea faithful, before the final whistle blew, accompanied by the announcement from the tannoy.

    “Ladies, Gentlemen, and Ponies...we are the champions!”

    Chelsea 3-0 Manchester United (Drogba 29, Lampard 38, Essien 76)

    The home crowd stayed behind long after the away fans had trudged out of the ground, as the Chelsea players and Mourinho did a lap of honour around the pitch. The title had been won in the most dramatic circumstances in Premier League history.

    Final Premier League Table

    C Chelsea 86pts GD +55
    2 Man Utd 86pts GD +52
    3 Arsenal 78pts GD +30
    4 Liverpool 73pts GD +22
    5 Tottenham 61pts GD +24
    6 Everton 57pts GD +18

    16 West Ham 38pts GD -24
    17 Wigan 38pts GD -27
    R Sheffield United 37pts GD -24
    R Charlton 32pts GD -36
    R Watford 28pts GD -30

    The two of us watched Match of the Day that night, as we saw the highlights of a fantastic victory, at least, until Dinky fell asleep and I went to put her to bed.

    As I left her bedroom, I thought ahead to the two finals to come, firstly the FA Cup Final at Wembley and then the Champions League Final in Athens. That afternoon, however, had been all about celebrating a miraculous defence of the title.
  8. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Chapter 44


    The first FA Cup Final to be played at the New Wembley Stadium was always going to be a talking point, but even more so when the two sides playing turned out to be Chelsea and Everton - largely due to one factor. Armando Fontana had left Stamford Bridge in highly acrimonious circumstances back in January, and Everton was now his seventh club in eight years.

    “What were the previous five?” Dinky asked me, on the morning of the final.

    “Well, we signed him from Real Madrid, he spent two years there,” I said, “Before that, he was at Milan, and the season before he was in the Juventus side which lost to Milan in the Champions League Final. Before that, he was in the Bayer Leverkusen side which lost the Champions League Final in 2002, and before that he spent two years at PSG.”

    I thought of two lines from Derpy's poem.

    “How greatly I adore you, how everything I've done,
    Was just so I could give you your own moment in the sun.”

    “Everything he's done at Everton has been solely to get a Champions League side to come calling in the summer,” I continued, “I'm actually amazed that Moyes has allowed it. You know he snubbed Bayern because they only got into the UEFA Cup?”

    “It's been a long wait,” Kick Off said, “But after six years away, the FA Cup Final is back at Wembley. In a few hours, the fans of Chelsea and Everton will converge on the stadium for what we hope will be a game to remember…”

    “So why are we taking the tube?” Rainbow Dash asked.

    “Because there's only one real way to get to Wembley,” I replied, “And you'll find out soon enough.”

    The tube train arrived at Wembley Park station and the three of us disembarked. We exited the station and Rainbow Dash’s jaw dropped as she got her first look at Wembley Stadium - and Wembley Way.

    The stadium was even more impressive when there were spectators in it, and even to those watching on television, such as Derpy, Twilight and Lyra in the Traveller's Rest, it looked spectacular.

    “So, fifteen minutes before we get underway,” Kick Off said, “And as always, we now have the FA Cup Final hymn.”

    Almost as one, the crowd in the stadium rose as the two singers began a tradition dating back eighty years.

    “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide…”

    “FA Cup Final day is always a special day,” Kick Off said, as the two teams walked out onto the pitch, “Especially when the final is back where it belongs, and it's extra special when there's a treble on the line as well.”

    “Yes, but there is one man who would just love to spoil it,” Full Time added, “Fontana's departure is well known, and little did Chelsea know that they'd be seeing him again.”

    “We'll see how this goes in a moment,” Kick Off continued, “But first, the British national anthem.”

    Once again, the crowd stood almost as one.

    “God save our gracious Queen,
    Long live our noble Queen,
    God save the Queen.

    Send her victorious,
    Happy and glorious,
    Long to reign over us,
    God save the Queen!”

    And then, the whistle sounded and the FA Cup Final was underway.

    Chelsea attacked almost instantly, and it became clear that the Everton defence would be in for a long afternoon. Two minutes into the match, Robben got away down the left, and his cross was cleared by the Everton back line. In the seventh minute, the ball was worked into the box, but Drogba was flagged for offside.

    The game then settled down, with Everton beginning to find their feet after Chelsea’s initial salvo. The Blues still looked more likely to score, though, and in the 23rd minute, Drogba was played in by Ballack. The Ivorian was forced wide and sent a cross in looking for Gudjohnsen, but his cross was caught by Howard.

    “Well, a little under half an hour gone,” Kick Off said, as Nuno Valente intercepted a pass from Lampard, “But there’s been no real sign of any Everton attack…”

    That, however, promptly changed. Just after the half hour, Phil Neville took the ball down the left and managed to outmuscle Essien before crossing into the area. Carvalho headed the ball clear, but Fontana, from 25 yards, managed to lob the ball over Petr Cech to give Everton the lead.

    “Oh, look at that!” Kick Off exclaimed, as Derpy looked up at the ceiling and Twilight put a wing around her, “Fantastic goal by Fontana, and has he come back to haunt his former club?”

    Chelsea attacked straight from the restart, and Robben got down the left, beating Hibbert before sending in a cross. Drogba’s initial volley was saved by Tim Howard, but he pounced on the volley to equalise almost immediately.

    “An instant response from Chelsea!” Kick Off exclaimed, “What a cross from Robben, and Drogba was there to get to the loose ball and level things up immediately! Moyes is furious with his defence for not picking up Drogba, he is a man you cannot afford to give a chance!”

    Chelsea had learned from falling behind, and now marked Fontana out of the game, cutting off Everton’s supply lines.

    With a minute of the first half left, Robben got down the left again, sending in a cross which Drogba volleyed over the bar.

    “We should be in front,” I said, as the teams left the pitch at half time, “We gave Fontana too much space-”

    “To be fair, nobody knew he had that in his locker,” Rainbow Dash countered.

    “-And that was a golden chance just before the break.”

    The second half, however, was marked by staunch defending on the part of both sides. With 25 minutes to go, Mourinho took Makelele off for Joe Cole, looking to increase Chelsea’s attacking options.

    “Still nothing separating the two sides with ten minutes remaining,” Kick Off said, “But Everton have had more of the game in these last five minutes, as Osman passes to Arteta…”

    Arteta moved the ball back to Phil Neville, who sent in a diagonal cross to Fontana, who fired the ball high over the bar, only to be flagged for offside anyway.

    With five minutes left, Joe Cole got down the right, and played in a cross. Drogba controlled the ball, and fired it home from close range to give Chelsea the lead.

    “And Drogba has surely won it for Chelsea!” Kick Off shouted, as the Chelsea end erupted, “Didier Drogba, with a close range finish, puts the Blues in front with five minutes to go!”

    The last five minutes ticked down almost agonisingly slowly, but with just under two minutes to go, a cross from Osman was caught by Cech, who looked to start a counter. Robben got down the left and sent in another cross to Drogba, who volleyed the ball into the net to secure the game and win the FA Cup.

    Chelsea 3-1 Everton (Drogba 33, 85, 90; Fontana 31)

    “There goes the final whistle, and Chelsea complete the double!” Kick Off exclaimed, “Didier Drogba scores a hat-trick in the first FA Cup Final at the New Wembley, and Chelsea have the last laugh against their former striker! They’ve won the Premier League, they’ve now won the FA Cup, and there is still the Champions League Final coming up…”

    “I reckon that’s the last the Premier League has seen of Fontana, unless Fergie, Rafa or Wenger take leave of their senses,” I said, as the Everton players collected their runners-up medals, “I suspect he’ll go back to Spain, most likely Valencia.”

    “And Chelsea, who won the last FA Cup final at the Old Wembley, win the first FA Cup Final at the New Wembley,” Kick Off said, “Their first FA Cup in seven years, Jose Mourinho’s first FA Cup too. It’s part two of the double...it could even be part two of the treble!”

    “This is what’s going to happen for the Champions League Final,” I said, as I put Dinky to bed that night, after we’d watched the highlights of the FA Cup Final, “Rainbow Dash will be arriving on Tuesday morning, and we’ll fly out to Athens in the afternoon.”
  9. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Chapter 45

    The Moment of Truth

    At the end of this game, the European Cup will be only six feet away from you, and you'll not even be able to touch it if we lose. And for many of you, that's the closest you will ever get. Don't you dare come back in here without giving your all.” - Sir Alex Ferguson's half time team talk in the 1999 Champions League Final

    Tuesday 22nd May

    As the British Airways flight headed towards Athens, I cast my mind back to the last eleven and a half months and the unicorn who was currently looking out of the window. Her unexpected arrival at my apartment. Bonding over the World Cup. Watching England get knocked out on penalties, and then Zidane headbutting Materazzi in the final. The trip to Scotland, and then learning about how she might be able to go back home.

    Then, the slow start to the Premier League campaign, followed by a good run which had included the victory at Old Trafford and Danny Doyle's debut hat trick at Sheffield United. The two defeats in December which had nearly brought it all crashing down, followed by the last gasp win over Liverpool with ten men. Rainbow Dash lending Derpy her season ticket so that the two could be together at Christmas. That superb run from the beginning of February, including those massive wins at Arsenal and Liverpool. Coming back from two goals down to beat Galatasaray in the Round of 16, before beating Liverpool in the Quarter Finals and winning in the Nou Camp in the semis. Whittling away Manchester United’s lead at the top before snatching the title on the final day of the season, before winning the FA Cup at Wembley. And now, the Champions League Final. This was what it all came down to. If Chelsea won tomorrow night, they would become only the second English club to win the treble, and the Foal Protection Agency would have to uphold their end of the agreement and reunite Dinky with her mother back in Ponyville.

    That Morning…

    As Rainbow Dash headed for the station to take the train to the British Embassy, she was stopped by a reporter for the Ponyville Times.

    “Do you have any comment about tomorrow’s match?” He asked.

    “Yeah!” Rainbow Dash replied, “First of all, Derpy, we are going to win tomorrow night, and you and Dinky will be back together before you know it!”

    “First of all? Do you have any other messages?”

    “Yes. Tomorrow night, Belladonna, when the final whistle goes...run.”

    Wednesday 23rd May

    The sound of Derpy's radio alarm woke the postmare from her sleep. She couldn't think about the evening yet, there were the day's letters and parcels to deliver.

    “Good Morning, and welcome to The Breakfast Show on Ponyville FM. There’s only one thing on the mind of every football fan in Equestria this morning, and that is the Champions League Final tonight between Chelsea and AC Milan…”

    All over Equestria, in Neighmouth, Foalmouth, Manechester, Trottingham, Coltsborough, Canterlot, Ponyville and many other towns, big screens had been set up to show the match that evening and the weather teams had all agreed that the night would be warm and clear.

    An hour and a quarter from the beginning of the match, Derpy opened her door to Twilight and Lyra.

    “Ready when you are,” Twilight said.

    Derpy took a deep breath, left the house...and was greeted by a storm of cheers and a sea of blue and white. The whole of the Equestria Blues had come to Ponyville to watch the match at Rainbow Dash’s request.

    “Ready?” I asked, as we prepared to leave our hotel room for the match.

    “As ready as I’ll ever be,” Dinky replied.

    Rainbow Dash, quaking like a leaf, barely nodded.

    It had almost been like a procession as Derpy, flanked by Twilight and Lyra, had been cheered all the way from her house to the big screen, and was shown to perhaps the best space in the town square.

    “Welcome to the Olympic Stadium in Athens,” Kick Off said, “And the fans of Chelsea and AC Milan both believe that this is their year. Chelsea were simply majestic in their semi final, beating Barcelona home and away, whilst Milan did just enough to beat Manchester United on away goals. A game with so many potential match-winners. Frank Lampard, Kaka, Michael Ballack, Andrea Pirlo, Didier Drogba, Alberto Gilardino. Can Chelsea win the European Cup for the first time in their history and complete a historic treble? Or will Milan exorcise the ghost of Istanbul?”

    It seemed as though the town had pulled out all the stops. Pinkie Pie had made, and was serving, a huge number of cupcakes which, rather than the usual extravagant frosting, were decorated with either an iced Champions League trophy or the competition’s “Starball” logo, while Berry Punch and her daughter served up drinks - Berry Punch handling the alcohol, with Ruby serving the soft drinks.

    “It all comes down to this,” Kick Off said, as the teams walked onto the pitch, “The UEFA Champions League Final. Winning it would cap off an amazing season for Chelsea, after all their domestic success, but Milan have unfinished business against English opposition.”

    Dinky had been to all of Chelsea's home matches in the Champions League, as well as the Nou Camp, but she was awestruck by the occasion as the teams lined up for the anthem. Even Rainbow Dash was amazed.

    Chelsea went on the attack almost from the beginning, and Robben forced a throw-in. Lampard crossed the ball into the area, only for Alessandro Nesta to head the ball clear.

    Milan's first real attack came in the twelfth minute. Kaka, Milan's Brazilian playmaker, sent a long ball into the area, and Gilardino connected, heading the ball straight at Cech.

    Seven minutes later, Milan attacked down the right. Full back Massimo Oddo sent a diagonal cross into the area before Robben could challenge, and Gilardino sent a header past Cech to give Milan the lead.

    “First blood to the Italians!” Kick Off exclaimed, as groans broke out among the crowd in Ponyville, “Superb header by Gilardino, but Robben will be kicking himself for not closing Oddo down!”

    Robben looked to make amends, and in the 24th minute he got down the left before sending in a cross, which was caught by Dida in the Milan goal.

    With half an hour gone, Robben got down the left again. This time his cross did connect, but Drogba, having beaten Nesta in the air, headed just over the bar.

    Three minutes later, Essien intercepted a pass, and played the ball to Ballack. Ballack then passed to Drogba who, forced out wide, took the ball down the right and crossed into the area, where Gudjohnsen powered a header past Dida.

    “And Chelsea are level!” Kick Off announced, as the Chelsea end erupted and Rainbow Dash suddenly found her bravado, “Superb header by Gudjohnsen, and that's been coming for the last ten minutes!”

    The match then entered a rather tentative phase which lasted into the second half, as both sides’ defenders hoofed the ball downfield whenever it got near the area. The best chance of that phase came in the 54th minute, when Gattuso saw a shot saved by Cech.

    Just after the halfway point in the second half, a cross from the right was deflected behind for a Chelsea corner. Lampard’s corner was met by the head of Carvalho, who headed the ball just over.

    Chelsea then began to take control as the match entered the last ten minutes, and with ten minutes left, Drogba got into the area, but saw his shot tipped wide as Nesta and Maldini forced him away from goal.

    Three minutes later, a Milan attack broke down when a pass was intercepted by Makelele. Makelele then set up Lampard, who played it to Robben out wide. Robben got down the left and sent a diagonal ball into the area, where Drogba, holding off Nesta, Maldini and Pirlo, chested the ball down before bending a swerving shot past the outstretched hand of Dida and into the net.

    “Oh, that is wonderful from Drogba! An absolutely brilliant goal, from an absolutely brilliant player!” Kick Off exclaimed, as Drogba raced to the corner flag before being mobbed by his teammates, while a wall of sound emanated from Ponyville’s town square, “Chelsea, who were behind in the title race, behind in the FA Cup Final, and behind tonight, are now just seven minutes away from The Treble!”

    In Ponyville, Derpy kept one eye on the clock in the top left corner of the screen. In the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Dinky and Rainbow Dash did the same. Six minutes. Five. Four and a half…

    A long ball out from Dida found Gattuso, who got past Ashley Cole before going for goal from outside the area, only to send the ball high and wide of the goal.

    “The ninety minutes are up, three minutes of stoppage time indicated,” Kick Off said, as Derpy took a deep breath. Meanwhile, Milan had regained possession, and Maldini had launched the ball long upfield.

    “Two minutes of added time left,” Kick Off said, “Chelsea can almost reach out and touch the trophy, but they’ve got to hold firm, as it’s Clarence Seedorf with this free kick…”

    A huge number of spectators, both human and pony, held their breaths.

    “Floated into the box, Kaka with the header...saved, almost on the line, by Cech! And Carvalho hacks the ball clear, but what a vital save that was! That might just have won Chelsea the Champions League!”

    “Almost there…” I muttered, as the match entered the final minute of added time.

    “I reckon it’s time,” Kick Off said, “The Chelsea fans are probably checking their watches. Mourinho’s looking at his watch. The referee has looked at his watch twice...and there it is!”

    Chelsea 2-1 AC Milan (Gudjohnsen 33, Drogba 83; Gilardino 19)

    “They’ve won the lot!” Kick off yelled, as the players in blue all celebrated, “They’ve won the Premier League, they’ve won the FA Cup, and now, they’ve won the Champions League! What an incredible season this has been! Heartache for AC Milan, their second consecutive defeat to English opposition in a Champions League Final...”

    I felt something hit my side and looked down to see an ecstatic Rainbow Dash attempting to hug me while Dinky, wide-eyed, looked down at the pitch where the celebrations were now getting underway in earnest.

    “...I didn’t think they were going to do it a few months ago.” Full Time said.

    “Well, who predicted that this would happen when Fontana clashed with Terry at St James’ Park?” Kick Off said, “Who thought this would happen when Galatasaray went two goals up at Stamford Bridge? But time and time again Chelsea came back. They overturned an eleven point deficit in the title race, they came back to beat Galatasaray, they beat Barcelona in the Nou Camp in the semi finals. And now, they join Manchester United in the promised land, the second English club to win the treble…”

    Derpy looked up at the screen, while the Equestria Blues celebrated behind her. Amazingly, Belladonna’s gambit had failed. Chelsea had won the treble, and she was going to get her Muffin back.

    ...she was going to get her Muffin back…

    ...She was going to get her Muffin back!

    “You know,” Twilight said to nopony in particular, “I never thought I’d see another English team win the tre-” she was suddenly knocked flat on her back, and looked up to see Derpy sporting a smile that even Pinkie Pie wouldn’t have managed while tears streamed down her face.


    “...the famous European Cup,” Kick Off said, as the Chelsea players prepared to lift their prize, “The huge trophy, lifted by so many great players, which means that they are Champions of Europe!”

    There would be time to sort everything out later, I thought, as we eventually left the stadium. Right now, it was time to celebrate.
  10. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Chapter 46

    The Aftermath

    Thursday 24th May

    “Look at that…”

    I yawned and rolled over, realising that I was still wearing my replica Chelsea shirt from the previous night; just as Rainbow Dash, who was fast asleep, was still wearing hers. Dinky, meanwhile, was looking out of the window, as the sun began to rise over Athens.

    “It's too early…” I mumbled.

    “It's beautiful.”

    “I know you're excited, Dinks, and I appreciate the symbolism and all,” Rainbow Dash yawned, “But it's six o'clock in the morning. Go back to sleep.”

    Dinky reluctantly did so.

    Derpy looked at the letter that Lyra had given her, written in the exact same writing as the letter that had brought her world crashing down around her almost exactly a year ago.

    “Dear Ms Hooves,
    Congratulations! With the increasing competitiveness of the Premier League, I never thought another English side would win The Treble.
    More importantly, in recent weeks, new information regarding your case has come to light; information which was not only withheld from me at the time, but also over the past year…”

    Thursday 3rd May

    Autumn walked through the corridors of the Foal Protection Agency as she headed back to her office. She didn't see the point of weekly caseworker meetings, but as head caseworker she felt that she had to set a good example.

    As she idly thought about asking Lyra if she wanted to go to The Two Princesses for lunch, she heard a commotion coming from a nearby office.

    “That’s what your fellow caseworkers have all said,” came a voice which Autumn didn't recognise, “That a lazy eye and sometimes speaking too quickly doesn't impact on a pony's qualifications as a parent.”

    “Well, there must have been something,” the caseworker said, wilting under the gaze of a blue unicorn stallion wearing a red bowtie and a pair of glasses. “Otherwise no action would have been taken.”

    “There was something,” the stallion said, “This letter, which Ms Heartstrings passed to me, was written by one of the foals at Ponyville Primary School, who on Friday overheard your boss boasting about how she'd concocted evidence to make it seem like immediate action needed to be taken…”

    “Wait,” Autumn thought, “Concocted evidence? Then that means...that means…Oh, Derpy, Dinky, I am so, so sorry…”

    And then, she realised something. All those visitation forms which had gone missing. The attempt to get Ruby taken away.

    “Excuse me,” she said, walking into the office, “But, Mr-”

    “One Truth, private investigator,” the stallion replied.

    “I have information that you might want to hear.”

    Some time later, Autumn entered her office as One Truth and Lyra followed her.

    “Right,” she said, “This is perhaps the sixth time I’ve tried to get Ms Hooves granted visitation rights. Every one before - even the one I gave directly to the visitation team - has gone missing. None of them has made it back to me to be sent off to London.”

    “Right then,” One Truth said, and looked intently at it before his horn lit up and caused the form to briefly glow.

    “A tracking spell,” he explained, as Autumn placed the form in the internal post trolley, “Now, we’ve set the bait.”

    “So, how long do you reckon it’ll take until you have a watertight case?” Autumn asked.

    “With the evidence you gave, it can be moved forward to three weeks from today.”

    “That’s the day after the Champions League Final…” Lyra tailed off, as the radio reported on the previous night’s match.

    “Chelsea are dreaming of the treble after last night’s win in the Nou Camp…” Breaking News said, as the radio then repeated Kick Off’s commentary.

    “Free kick to Chelsea in Frank Lampard territory. A pivotal moment in this semi final second leg. Half an hour to go, it’s one-all on the night, four-two to Chelsea on aggregate. It’s Lampard to take...oh, superb free kick! Frank Lampard has surely put Chelsea into the Champions League Final!”

    Thursday 24th May

    “There were scenes of jubilation last night as Chelsea lifted the European Cup for the first time in their history to complete the treble. A late goal from Didier Drogba won the match after Eidur Gudjohnsen had cancelled out Gilardino's header in the first half…”

    Autumn heard a knock at the door to her office, and opened it to find One Truth flanked by two constables.

    “Let’s go.” he said.

    Autumn nodded, and, joined by Lyra, headed down the corridor.

    “Don’t you know to kno-” Belladonna began, before being cut off by one of the constables.

    “Belladonna Nightshade, I am arresting you on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention anything…”

    Autumn waited until the constable had finished before making her announcement.

    “And one more thing,” she said, as the two constables led Belladonna out of her office, “You’re sacked.”

    ...the pony responsible was arrested and her employment terminated this morning, and I will shortly be taking steps to ensure that such a state of affairs does not happen again. I cannot begin to express how sorry I am for what you and your daughter had to go through.

    Yours sincerely,

    Autumn Scamper

    Acting Director (previously head caseworker)

    Equestrian Foal Protection Agency

    “Hello, Lyra,” I said, as she greeted me on the other end of the line, shortly after we’d arrived back from the airport.

    “I was ringing to arrange the handover,” Lyra said, “Obviously with the result of the match last night - I’d ask if you enjoyed it, but that’s probably academic.”

    “The handover? Well, how does Saturday sound?” I asked, “That’s when the trophy parade is; so if Derpy was to accompany Rainbow Dash, Dinky would be able to go back with them without having to go through the embassy.”

    “That sounds fine by me.” Lyra answered.

    Friday 25th May

    “Two of The Treble, please,” I said, as we were served at Goalato. The ice cream duly arrived, with one flavour in each of the three containers which were shaped like the Premier League trophy, the FA Cup and the Champions League Trophy respectively.

    “I’m actually going to miss this place,” Dinky said, digging a spoonful of honeycomb crunch out of the miniature FA Cup.

    “Given the popularity of football in Equestria, it won’t surprise me if they start opening up over there,” I replied. “Mind you, they’re looking at Wembley and Old Trafford first.”

    In Ponyville, Derpy finished putting fresh sheets on a bed that had been untouched for almost a year. One more day...

    Saturday 26th May

    It was safe to say that there was a carnival atmosphere on Eel Brook Common. A big screen showed every goal Chelsea had scored that season, while numerous humans and ponies waited for the open-topped buses to pass. There was even a zeppelin hovering in the air.

    After what seemed like an eternity, a huge roar went up from further down the road, getting louder and louder as the buses approached, passing by as the first team players and Jose Mourinho waved, with the trophies being held aloft for all to see.

    Some time later, back at the flat, Lyra’s mobile phone went off, and she looked at it.

    “We’re good to go,” she said.

    “Well,” I said, as I knelt down to give Dinky one last hug, “It looks like you really are going home.”

    “Thank you so much for looking after my Muffin,” Derpy said, as she then gave me a hug.

    “See you next season.” That was Rainbow Dash.

    Dinky barely had time to register the fact that she had returned to Ponyville, or that a massive party had been arranged to celebrate her return, before she was literally bowled over by Ruby Pinch - she was certain that Ruby was crying - before being mobbed by the rest of her classmates, giving her an impression of what Ballack and Drogba must have experienced after their heroics against Galatasaray and winning goal against Milan respectively.

    I circled the date on the calendar that the next Premier League season would start, before walking over to the window and looking out over the London skyline, lit up against the night sky. Whilst I did so, I thought about the events of the past season, and the unicorn who was now back in Ponyville.

    Would I miss her? Absolutely, but she should never have been in London to begin with. Lyra had told me everything, and how the former director of the Foal Protection Agency was now facing trial and a long stretch inside if found guilty.

    The ringing of the telephone shook me from my thoughts, making me realise that I’d been humming the theme from the film Local Hero for the past minute. I walked over and picked it up.

    When played in its entirety, the UEFA Champions League Anthem contains the words “un grand reunion”. And that night, in Ponyville, a grey pegasus and her daughter enjoyed a grand reunion of their own. The two of them fell asleep cuddled up to each other, knowing that they were together again, and that was how it would stay.

  11. Wessexbrony

    Wessexbrony UKoE resident Victor Meldrew

    29 April 2013
    Likes Received:
    Epilogue Part 1: After the Fact

    August, 2007

    “Rainbow Dash is here, Muffin!”

    “Be right there, Mommy!”

    As Dinky left her room and headed downstairs, she thought about the events that had occurred since her return home.

    Saturday 26th May

    Dinky finished putting the last of her items in her bedroom, which had not changed since she'd last slept in it nearly a year ago, and went back down to the sitting room. She realised, as she entered, that Derpy was talking on the telephone, and caught snatches of the conversation.

    “...just out of interest, when do season tickets go on sale? Beginning of June? Well, I’ll speak to Dinky about it tomorrow and ring you back.”

    On the other end of the line, I put the phone down. It seemed that Derpy really had enjoyed her trip to Stamford Bridge back in December.

    At any rate, I’d still be keeping in touch with Dinky, just as I still kept in touch with Lyra after my family had hosted her as part of the exchange program.

    Sunday 27th May

    “Right then, so it’s one renewal, and one new one,” I said, as I jotted down the details, “In that case, I’ll sort it out when they go on sale next Monday. And the trip to Wales? That’s after the end of the school year...I don’t see why not. After all, I’m sure you could do with a break after everything that happened. Anyway, I’ve got to go, the doorbell’s just gone.”

    I walked over to the door to discover a pony from the embassy with another pony I didn’t recognise.

    “Sorry to bother you, Mr Spencer,” the embassy pony said, “But there’s something we need to discuss with you. May we come in?”

    “As you know, Belladonna Nightshade was arrested last week,” said the other pony a few minutes later, having introduced himself as Habeas Corpus, “And her trial is due to begin the week after next. As you took care of Dinky Hooves for eleven and a half months, we were wondering if you would be able to give evidence.”

    “I do have something,” I said, and I went to the study to retrieve it.

    “This letter, signed by Belladonna, was given to me when Dinky arrived here,” I said, a minute later, “It effectively told me to get rid of her old identity; change her surname, make sure she knew that she was my daughter now - which sounds pretty ridiculous when you think about it - and effectively shut Derpy out of her daughter’s life. I found it to be extremely cruel, and Dinky managed to see it and it really upset her.”

    “And what did you do?”

    “I told Dinky that I wouldn’t be giving Belladonna the time of day as she had no jurisdiction in Britain, and that if she tried to order me around I’d report her to the British Embassy in Canterlot. In addition, I got Rainbow Dash to lend Derpy her season ticket for Chelsea’s home game against Reading, meaning that the two of them were together for Christmas.”

    “Well, I think we’ve got what we need,” Habeas Corpus said, “Please report to the Equestrian Embassy next Tuesday to give evidence via audiolink.”

    Friday 16th June

    “All will rise.”

    Derpy and Dinky both stood as the jury returned from deliberation. Belladonna, standing in the dock, occasionally glared at them.

    At the beginning of the week, another letter had arrived from the Foal Protection Agency, telling them the date on which the trial would conclude. In it, Autumn had said that while it was their choice, going to see the verdict being delivered might offer closure.

    Of course, that wasn’t the end of their business with the Foal Protection Services. The agency would be going on trial itself in September as a result of Belladonna’s actions, and there was serious talk of a large damages payment.

    The trial had lasted two weeks, and Derpy and Dinky had both given evidence. Autumn, Lyra and several employees of the agency had also given evidence, as had Dinky’s guardian. Even Blueblood had given evidence - as Equestria’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, he’d spent a month dealing with the fallout from Dinky’s relocation to London, and had been summoned to 10 Downing Street the day after it had happened.

    For those following the case through the news, a guilty verdict looked inevitable - although Autumn had also said that even if Belladonna was found not guilty, she’d still been blacklisted from any government position higher than cleaner or cafeteria worker.

    “Have you reached a verdict on which all of you are agreed?” the judge asked.

    “We have, your honour.”

    “On the charge of perverting the course of justice, do you find the defendant guilty, or not guilty?”

    There was a pause. Then-


    “And on the charge of misconduct in a public office, do you find the defendant guilty, or not guilty?”

    Another pause. Then-


    “Belladonna Nightshade,” the judge said, “We have heard, in this court, about how you used your authority to cause almost a year of untold misery for a mother and her daughter and gambled with their happiness. We have heard how you damaged Equestria’s relationship with the United Kingdom, and how you sabotaged your employee’s attempts to allow Ms Hooves to see her daughter. You believed that as a high-ranking public servant, as you were so fond of saying, you could do as you pleased, but you had a duty to serve the public, just as I, as a high-ranking public servant, do - and it is a duty I would be failing in if I did not impose a suitable sentence. Therefore, for the crimes of which you have been convicted, I sentence you to thirty years in prison.”

    “Yes!” Derpy shouted.

    “That will do, Ms Hooves,” the judge said.

    “Don’t get too comfortable,” Belladonna snarled, “You haven’t seen the last of me. I’ll be back, and when I am I’ll see to it that you and your daughter are separated for good! Make the most of your time together, because I can assure you, it won’t last…”

    As Belladonna continued to rant, Dinky looked on in anger. After all she’d put the two of them through, she had the nerve to say such things? She opened her mouth to protest, but Derpy got there first.

    Unbeknownst to Derpy, something had stirred inside her when Drogba had scored against Liverpool back in December, and it had only increased after Christmas and as the football season had reached its conclusion. And now, she became aware of it.

    “Oh, go and boil your head, you contemptible nag!” she retorted, “It’s over! I win, you lose, I have my muffin back, and you’re going to prison! You won’t be able to do anything to us again, not today, not tomorrow, not ever!”

    “Ms Hooves,” the judge said, “Another outburst and I’m afraid that I will have to ask you to leave the courtroom!”

    “Don’t worry, Your Honour,” Derpy replied, “I’ve said my piece. Let’s go, Dinky.”

    The two of them walked out of the courtroom as Belladonna was carted off to prison.

    Saturday 28th July

    Dinky looked at the five new photos adorning her chest of drawers. Each of them showed her and her mother hugging in front of a narrow-gauge steam locomotive on five different railways - The Ffestiniog, the Welsh Highland, the Talyllyn, the Welshpool and Llanfair and the Vale of Rheidol. Her former guardian had taken them to Wales for a week, and to all the famous little railways. He had, in fact, begun organising the holiday in March, when Manchester United had still held a nine-point lead in the title race.

    In his home in Coltsborough, Kick Off picked up the list of TV Fixtures on the kitchen table and took it into his study. The season would be starting soon, and he now knew the first games that he’d be covering.

    Sunday 12th August

    I accepted a hug from each of the three ponies as we met up outside the entrance to the apartment block. After a long wait, the Premier League season had finally returned. Gone were Watford, Charlton and Sheffield United, relegated at the end of the previous season. Replacing them were Sunderland, Birmingham City and Derby County, and Chelsea were starting the defence of their title at home to Birmingham.

    “So, who do you think will be relegated?” Rainbow Dash asked.

    “I’m going to say Sunderland, Birmingham, and one of Wigan, West Ham or Derby,” I replied.

    Last season, with all its success, drama and eventual euphoria, was history, although it would live long in the memory of football fans for years to come.

    The four of us, with Dinky on Derpy’s back, set off for the match, laughing and joking with each other. A new season was underway, and all the hopes and dreams and expectations which went with it.

    As for certain other parties...

    In September 2007, the Foal Protection Agency was fined 1.5 million bits for numerous breaches of its ethics and transparency code during Belladonna Nightshade’s stint as director. They were also ordered to pay Derpy Hooves 5 million bits in damages. In an interview with the Canterlot Examiner, Autumn Scamper admitted that it would take years for public confidence in the Foal Protection Services to be restored.

    Spoiled Rich was charged with failing to report a crime, and was tried the week before Belladonna. She threw Belladonna under the proverbial bus, and was ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work at the Ponyville Post Office.

    Armando Fontana left Everton in July 2007, moving to Valencia for £7,000,000. Most Evertonians, Sweetie Belle included, were delighted to see the back of him.

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