(continued from The King of King’s Road (5))
After spending his Saturday morning sitting in front of the LK Bennett Clearance Store without a single penny having been dropped in his coffee can, the homeless man returned to his spot on The King’s Road next to the fire station. A continuous parade of fans clad in blue shirts with matching blue and white scarves and hats had begun to make their way west toward the Chelsea football ground at Stamford Bridge for that afternoon’s football match. The bald heads and bulging waist lines of the Chelsea supporters were a stark contrast to the thin well-dressed ladies he had seen earlier that morning at the LK Bennett sale. As they passed, many nodded in acknowledgement to the homeless man or stopped to drop a few coins in his can. One woman handed him a pre-wrapped sandwich from Tesco Express. Another fan gave him a blue and white scarf.
Before long, the generosity of the Chelsea fans had begun to have an impact and a sizable pile of coins accumulated in the homeless man’s coffee can. The homeless man got up from his spot and joined the procession towards the football ground. When he got to the William Hill betting shop, he stopped and went in. He picked up a betting form for that day’s game and filled it in, placing five pounds on Chelsea to beat Blackburn 2-0 at 6-1 odds. He then made his way back to his spot next the fire house and took out his radio. He tuned it to BBC Radio 5 Live and began to listen to the pundits’ pre-game chatter about the day’s football schedule. He took out his Rubik’s Cube and began to twist and turn the tiles as he waited for the games to kick-off.
The homeless man listened nervously as Chelsea and Blackburn battled back and forth in a tightly contested match with neither team able to score by the end of the first half. He continued to play with his Rubik’s Cube as he listened intently to the beginning of the second half. After a few minutes, Didier Drogba scored for Chelsea to put them ahead 1-0. The teams continued to battle fiercely. The homeless man hoped for one more Chelsea goal without conceding a goal to Blackburn. A 2-0 Chelsea victory would turn his five pounds into thirty-five. At 80 minutes, Blackburn was called for a red card in the penalty box. One of their defenders had prevented a clear Chelsea goal-scoring opportunity and was sent off. Blackburn would have to finish the game one man down, but first the sure-footed Frank Lampard took Chelsea’s penalty kick and scored. With only ten minutes remaining, Chelsea led 2-0 and the homeless man was holding a potentially winning bet.
Playing with a one-man advantage, Chelsea controlled the flow of play and pressed for a third goal. All of the play was in Blackburn’s end as they held all their remaining players back to hold off the onslaught. The homeless man had bet Chelsea to win, but now rooted for Blackburn to prevent the third goal. But in the end, Chelsea proved too strong and Drogba scored again in the 89th minute. Chelsea won 3-0, but the bet was lost. The homeless man shut off the radio and put it away. He set up his cardboard sign and his tin coffee can and continued to play with his Rubik’s Cube.