“Hazard.. Mata.. Hazard.. And here’s Lampard.. Could this be the moment? It is! Frank Lampard makes Chelsea history, his 202nd goal for the club, equaling the record set by the great Bobby Tambling!”
Villa Park. Saturday, May 11, 2013. Every Chelsea fan remembers the day well. Super Frankie Lampard was finally Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer. A memory for the ages indeed!
Frank Lampard is a household name to most people who have watched the game since the 2000s, much more so to Chelsea fans. He has reached levels that most players can only dream of. He had been a team player all his career, lifting his teams to loftier heights and stamping his presence on every pitch he set foot on. He was part of the greatest era of Chelsea history. He was the engine in the spine that was Drogba, himself, Terry and Cech. He had won multiple Premier Leagues, FA Cups and the coveted Champions League. However high he rose, however many trophies he has won, however many times he was recognized, there was not a pedestal with his name on it. Most sensible people knew he was a step above the rest. He was meant to have a statue of himself at Stamford Bridge. Something to call his own.
Although his prolific scoring form had dipped in the latter part of his career, Lampard was accustomed to scoring about 20 goals a season from the midfield for at least ten seasons. That is remarkably consistent for someone who plays a box to box role.
So, it was getting nearer – Lampard was within touching distance … He was closer than ever to Bobby Tambling’s long-standing record. Yet his contract was running out, a matter of weeks rather than months. With Chelsea’s policy on players on the wrong side of 30, Lampard could very well have been on his way out at second place. So close yet so far.
Chelsea, having begun the 12-13 season brightly, fell into an indifferent patch of form in November, suffering a winless month. The European Champions were going toe to toe with the Manchester clubs until November, when the sorry patch reduced our season to a race for top four. Roberto di Matteo was promptly sacked, and Rafael Benitez put in charge in his place. An unpopular decision amongst Chelsea fans to say the least. However, he steadied the ship and remained in contention, competing with Arsenal and Tottenham for Champions League qualification. With the three teams within a point or two of each other, it was imperative that we did not drop any points towards the end of the season.
Aston Villa who were battling for survival, were on the ascendancy, having scored eight goals in their two games prior. They opened the scoring at home with a sweet strike from Christian Benteke. The game was marred by a series of bad fouls by both teams. Down a goal and a man at halftime, Chelsea were running the risk of Arsenal and Tottenham leapfrogging them in the table with one game to go. Chelsea needed a talisman to get behind. Enter the magic of Mata and Hazard. Enter Lampard.
Chelsea scored two goals with some brilliant combination play between seasoned veteran Lampard and the sparkling Eden Hazard. There was no better time of the season for Super Frankie Lampard to come up clutch. Scoring both goals in typical Lampardian fashion – combining at the edge of the box for the first, arriving late into the six-yard box for the second – Frank Lampard was finally at the summit of Chelsea’s all-time scorers list, wearing the armband no less. It simply had to be. We were witnessing a historic moment, a fact that was apparent to me as I watched on. As he bowed down to the crowd at the away end of Villa Park, as Cech carried him on his shoulders it was now confirmation Lampard had a pedestal he can call his own.
As Chelsea visit Villa Park this weekend, the site of Lampard’s achievement (albeit in a different capacity), it seemed only right to relive the moment again. The scene is different now. We are in a race to secure top four yet again. The club are nowhere near the same heights. However, there is a sprinkling of hope. Lampard – the manager – has come in and ostensibly tried to change the way things work at the club. There have been ups and downs, highs and lows all season. The youth have come in to be counted. The club are on a short burst of form. This Saturday at Villa Park should be a memorable game for a manager who wishes he could kick every ball.
It is hard to fathom a midfielder as prolific as him in the modern game. It has become a game of electric wingers and swashbuckling fullbacks. Not many clubs can boast a midfielder at the top of their goalscoring charts. Frank Lampard remains a stalwart in that respect, a crowning glory of an indomitable era gone by.
“Now Lampard.. Hazard.. and again Hazard.. and he’s done it! Frank Lampard. Has Become. The highest goal scorer in Chelsea’s history!”