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My name is Scott Switalla. I was lucky enough to win the raffle that the LAFC Foundation hosted. The prize: a trip to London to go see Chelsea vs. Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in London, England. Thank you to the LAFC Foundation for making such a trip possible. It was an experience my son and I will cherish the rest of our lives.

I received the phone call in the afternoon informing me that I had won the trip for two to London. I immediately called my wife to decide which of us was going to take our 8-year old son, Julian. You see there was never a doubt that Julian would go, Chelsea had been his favorite team since he started watching soccer (even before he started playing). My wife is very kind so she allowed me to go on the trip. That evening while I was driving Julian to his LAFC Chelsea practice at Pasadena High School, I asked him a question.

“If you could go and watch any sporting event anywhere in the world, what would you want to go and see?” He had no idea the raffle even existed.
He immediately replied, “I would go see Chelsea play, wait do they play Barcelona? But I would go watch them play in London for sure.” I asked him if Aston Villa would be ok. He jokingly said of course. It took me five minutes to get him to believe that we were actually going to go see Chelsea play in London. He was literally in tears he was so happy and excited.

Our flight left on Wednesday evening, March 24th and due to the time difference we arrived Thursday early afternoon. The hotel the LAFC Foundation booked for us was the beautiful InterContinental London Park Lane. We checked in and had to take a nap. Once we awoke, we spent the evening walking around the neighborhood and admiring the beautiful architecture of London. Next door was the Hard Rock Café and the Japanese Embassy. The hotel was also just a short walk from Buckingham Palace.

Friday morning we woke up and spent the entire day sight-seeing. A few highlights were a trip to the National Gallery. My son is a huge art fan and to see Van Gogh’s Sunflower painting in person was a true treat. We also walked around Kensington Palace and of course bought some stuff at Hamley’s Toy Store which is celebrating its 250th anniversary. We also went to Her Majesty’s Theatre, the London Tower and took a walk down Millionaire’s Row (which is now mostly foreign embassies).

Saturday was Match Day. We awoke early so we could see a few more sites. We also knew we wanted to arrive at Stamford Bridge early so we could really enjoy the experience. We actually were the first fans in the stadium, which allowed us to take some great photos. Julian was extremely excited and enjoyed all the pre-game warm-ups, etc. Aston Villa’s starting goalkeeper is Brad Friedel, an American who was the first to take the field for warm-ups. He watched as all of his favorite players went through their warm-ups. Then when the starters came out to take the field his heart dropped for a bit. He noticed immediately that Didier Drogba, his favorite player was not in the starting 11. Still, he named off all of Chelsea’s starters as they paraded onto the field. He was in heaven.

As the game kicked off it was apparent immediately that Chelsea was firing on all cylinders. Our area of the stadium, known as The Shed was loud and energetic. Julian’s second favorite player Frank Lampard opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a strike and celebrated right in front of us. It would be a special day for Lampard as he would score four goals in the match, including career goals 150 and 151, which brought him to third all-time in Chelsea history. Florent Malouda scored two goals and Salomon Kalou scored one as Chelsea dominated the match for a final score of 7-1!

It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I cannot thank the LAFC Foundation enough for the remarkable experience. Thanks to all!

13 / May / 2010  Latest News 

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