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The Chelsea FC
By Rick Glanvill
The History PressCopyright © 2015 Rick Glanvill
All rights reserved.
THE CHELSEA FC MISCELLANY
DATE OF BIRTH
On 11 March 1905, The Times carried the following announcement released through the Press Association under the headline 'New Professional Football Club':
It has been decided to form a professional football club, called the Chelsea Football Club, for Stamford-bridge. Application will be made for admission to the first division of the Southern League.
As a result we can say that the club was born on 10 March 1905, a Friday. The meeting took place in an upstairs room at the Rising Sun public house, opposite the Stamford Bridge stadium. A month later the Articles of Association were drawn up by solicitor John Maltby and the lease of Stamford Bridge signed over to the club.
'In building up a team Chelsea have gone far afield, but whether the men will shake down together satisfactorily can at present only be surmised.'
The Guardian, 27 August 1905
'Now, the first sign of Chelsea on the attack with Di Matteo ... oh, and a good run upfront by Mark Hughes ... and Di Matteo shoots – oohhh! What about this! It's possibly the quickest ever goal in a Wembley cup final! It's Roberto Di Matteo inside 45 seconds!'
BBC TV commentator John Motson reports Roberto Di Matteo's 43-second strike in the 1997 FA Cup final
PLAYER OF THE DECADE: THE 1900s
George Hilsdon 1/9/1906 – 18/4/1912
London's East End has contributed many stars to the Chelsea constellation over the years, but the earliest was 'Gatling Gun' George – so-called because of the power and rapidity of his shooting. Discovered while Chelsea's player-manager Jackie Robertson was scouting a West Ham match for a different player, he was signed swiftly enough to join the Pensioners on tour in May 1906 – netting a hatful against opponents on the Continent. Such form spilled over into his debut and he netted 5 goals in a 9–2 galumphing over Glossop. It would be the first of three successive seasons of 25 or more goals, and on Boxing Day 1910 George became the first Pensioner to reach a century of goals. The bright lights of the West End would prove his undoing, sadly, and having represented England his star faded – in 1912 he was traded back to West Ham. Such had been his exploits a campaign was started to raise a statue in his honour. Instead he was commemorated with a weather-vane in his image, a replica of which still bodyswerves gusts of wind above the East Stand at Stamford Bridge.
164 appearances, 109 goals.
PREMIER LEAGUE – THE FIRST 20 YEARS
Chelsea were one of just seven founding members of the Premier League in 1992/93 to remain ever-present over the first 20 seasons, and one of the most successful.
Total points over 20 seasons
Manchester United 1,663
Aston Villa 1,089
Manchester City 784
Most points amassed by Chelsea over a season
2004/05 95 1999/00 65
2005/06 91 2001/02 64
2009/10 86 2011/12 64
2007/08 85 1997/98 63
2006/07 83 2000/01 61
2008/09 83 1996/97 59
2003/04 79 1992/93 56
1998/99 75 1994/95 54
2010/11 71 1993/94 51
2002/03 67 1995/96 50
Average points per season
Manchester United 83.15
Leeds United 57.67
Blackburn Rovers 57.00
Aston Villa 54.45
Manchester City 52.27
Manchester United 12
Blackburn Rovers 1
Manchester City 1
'CHARLIE COOKE FOR PRIME MINISTER'
FA Cup final, 1970
GAME OF THE DECADE: THE 1900s
Chelsea 9–2 Glossop North End, Division Two, 1 Sep 1906
New signing 'Gatling Gun' George Hilsdon announced his arrival with a 5-goal haul, setting Chelsea on to an all-time highest scoreline, and promotion to the top flight for the first time.
'When I met them [after the Champions League final in 2004] I listened for important things for me. They were saying of course we want to win, and of course we need to win, because when you want to create one of the best clubs in the world, you need to win.
'You cannot go into Asia searching for commercial things ... if you are a loser. If you want to take supporters from other English clubs, no victories? – none of that. So they want to create long term one of the best clubs in the world and for that they need short-term victories.
'Peter Kenyon told something important for me: "We don't want to win one championship, we want to win the first, but we want to build Chelsea into one of the best clubs in the world."
'They showed me a Powerpoint presentation with numbers ... supporters in the world, supporters in England, Man United, Real Madrid, Barcelona; where Chelsea was, what Chelsea needs to do in sports terms to push all the other things. And I have got that responsibility in my hands.
'After that I told them and I showed them my Powerpoint presentation about my ideas about the team, and they were open for that. I could show them my way to win, my profile of players, of teams, of concepts, and they understood it well and we shared opinions and it was a nice two days.'
How the Chelsea hierarchy interviewed José Mourinho ... and how he interviewed them
1914/15 FA Cup runners-up: £725.
2001/02 FA Cup runners-up: £1,675,000.
'Standby for the floodgates to open.'
BBC 5Live commentator Alan Green, at the moment Chelsea went 2–0 down, having been reduced to ten men, away to Barcelona in the 2012 Champions League semi-final second leg. The Blues went on to draw 2–2 and win the tie
On 29 June 1930 Stamford Bridge was temporarily transformed into a cathedral by the Bishop of London and tens of thousands of believers celebrating High Mass on the hallowed turf ahead of the fourth Anglo-Catholic Congress, held at the Royal Albert Hall the following day.
The new Chelsea's massive ambitions were threatened in 1907 by a proposal from Fulham chairman Henry Norris to merge the geographically separate Southern and Football Leagues into a new National League. Norris had summarily rejected a move to the new Stamford Bridge stadium in 1905 and resented the fact a more successful neighbour had sprung up as a result. His plan would have been a setback for the promotion-chasing Pensioners. The proposed merger would have meant Division Two (where Chelsea then played) being split in two along north/south lines, with a three-year moratorium on promotion from 1907/08. Naturally the dynamic young Chelsea board were fierce opponents, and the Chelsea FC Chronicle published passionate letters of disapproval from supporters. Thankfully, the merger idea was postponed (and later dumped) and as the 1906/07 season played out, Chelsea in any case gained entry to the top tier as runners-up.
Roy Bentley was the English national side's first ever substitute, replacing Chelsea team-mate Billy Gray at outside-right in Switzerland for England 'B' in January 1950.
'[Willie] Foulke's face when the referee pointed to the centre was a study. Transferred to canvass, labelled "Amazement", it would be the picture of the season at next year's Academy exhibition. What he thought would fill a volume – in several languages.'
Chelsea FC Chronicle
French new wave actor Jean-Paul Belmondo was present at the Parc des Princes stadium to watch Chelsea beat his team Paris Saint-Germain 3–0 in 2004. Related work: Les Misérables the movie, 1995.
GAME OF THE DECADE: THE 1910s
Chelsea 2–1 Derby County, Division One, 15 Nov 1913
This was the debut for Chelsea's first foreign superstar, the Great Dane, Nils Middelboe. He was made skipper for the day and was voted man of the match, beginning the Chelsea support's long affection for overseas players.
Chelsea believed they had been relegated in 1915 by finishing 19th in Division One, one point and one place from safety. However, thanks to an anonymous letter sent by 'Football King' to a leading sports newspaper, a match-fixing scandal, involving Liverpool and Manchester United the previous Easter, was exposed. An FA hearing established that losers Liverpool had been nobbled by a betting syndicate and United (who had finished 18th) were stripped of the two points earned, saving Chelsea from relegation.
CLUB CONTACTS (1905)
Telegram: 'CHELSTAM, LONDON'
Telephone: '1476 KENSINGTON'
EYE ON THE BALL
Striker Bob Thomson, signed from Croydon Common in 1911, only had one eye. Recalling the legendary Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketch about the one-legged man auditioning for the part of Tarzan ('a role which traditionally involves the use of a two-legged actor'), it was said Chelsea manager David Calderhead asked, 'How do you manage, Bob, when the ball comes to you on your blind side?'
'I just shut the other eye – and play from memory' was his reply. Despite this disability Thomson thrilled supporters and weighed in with 25 goals in five official seasons – plus 100 more in 'unofficial' campaigns during the First World War.
'Today we can make history and become champions of England.'
The words Eidur Gudjohnsen used when it was his turn to make the rallying cry before kick-off. Bolton away, April 2005
LETTERS OF NOTE
'In the event all went well. Chelsea lost their first match against the Bulgarian Army team 1–2, but won the second 2–0 against the leading Bulgarian civilian club. Both games were reasonably clean; there were no unpleasant incidents such as marred last year's match between the English and Bulgarian Under 23s, and the crowd in the stadium behaved well. Chelsea spent the time between the two Sunday matches training and resting at Varna, where they were the guests of the Bulgarians at one of the best hotels. I had them all in to drinks after the last match (without any Bulgarians) and they made a good impression on all who met them. The management and most of the team seemed to have been well briefed by someone (? by our department) about the realities of life in Bulgaria and had not been unduly taken in by the VIP treatment accorded them. They had no complaints except about the food (even the best Bulgarian hotel food is pretty disgusting) but there seems to have been little fraternisation; no formal banquet was organised after the matches and none of my staff were invited to attend any social function by the Bulgarians as we were after the Under 23s match last year. This was of course all to the good.
Yours ever, Richard Speaight'
From the UK Foreign Office, in relation to Chelsea's cold war-era tour of Communist Bulgaria in 1958
FIRST MENTION OF CHELSEA
Anglo-Saxon king Offa of Mercia held a synod in AD 787 at Cealthye, generally accepted as modern-day Chelsea.
'If candlelight is kind to the human face, then floodlighting certainly lends a magic to a football arena.' Thus wrote a newspaper reporter remarking on the first use of floodlights at Stamford Bridge in 1957. Each set of lamps stood on tubular steel towers reaching up 170ft – almost as tall as Nelson's column. There were six of these erected, despite protests from a few locals about the eyesore, and a total of 288 lamps burning nearly half a million watts.
LET'S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF
Some reasons for late postponements or abandoned matches:
29 December 1962. Chelsea v Luton Town. One of 26 English matches called off because of tundra-like conditions. The 'big freeze' endured, and the Blues' next league match was not played until 9 February 1963.
29 January 1969. Chelsea 2–0 Preston North End. Called off when a fire in a newly installed electrical junction box caused power failure.
20 January 1972. Chelsea 2–3 Norwich City. League Cup semi-final abandoned with five minutes remaining (and City holding a three-goal aggregate lead) because of blanket fog.
24 January 1976. York City 0–2 Chelsea. Rumours of floodlight failure at Bootham Crescent proved unfounded, but many supporters were put off going.
8 December 1993. Chelsea v Wimbledon. Postponed because structural debris was blowing around the stadium.
23 October 1997. Tromsø 3–2 Chelsea. Blizzards caused this second round UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in the Arctic Circle to be stopped several times for the pitch to be cleared to reveal its markings.
9 December 2003. Be?ikta? 0–2 Chelsea. The start of the second half was delayed for almost ten minutes so that an avalanche of toilet rolls thrown by Turkish fans could be cleared from the neutral Auf Schalke Arena pitch.
GAME OF THE DECADE: THE 1920s
Corinthians 4–4 Chelsea, Friendly, 4 July 1929
Chelsea become the first English professional side to play in São Paulo, and delight a huge Brazilian crowd with a thrilling comeback, earning the nickname 'the team of the turn'.
While the rest of Britain froze under blizzards and sub-zero temperatures of March 1965, Chelsea prepared for the FA Cup clash with Peterborough almost as normal. How? Through the generosity of rivals Arsenal, who had been approached by Blues manager Tommy Docherty to use the indoor training centre adjacent to Highbury, and agreed. Chelsea were thus able to turn the heat on the Posh, and won 5–1.
It is widely recorded that the 'Shed' roof over the old 'kop' south terrace was built only after greyhound racing arrived at Stamford Bridge, and more for the benefit of that sport's adherents than football's. The idea of cover for that area was first mooted four years earlier, however, in 1928. Stadium landlord and Chelsea director Joe Mears aimed to raise £40,000 by setting up a new company that would own and maintain the stadium. Mears hesitated and the organisation did not materialise; instead the Greyhound Racing Association effectively took over the ground in 1932.
THERE'S AN AWFUL LOT OF CHELSEA IN BRAZIL
Chelsea have fielded more Brazil-born players (eight) than any other in the Premier League: Emerson Thome, Mineiro, Juliano Belletti, Deco, Alex, Ramires, David Luiz and Oscar. Manchester City and Middlesbrough have used six, Arsenal five and Manchester United four.
MOURNING THE PENSIONER
'It will be a pity, if, in dropping the Pensioner, Chelsea in the process mislay that endearing quality of theirs to behave like a more than normally temperamental Mr Punch, bobbing up when he is least expected to give some resounding whacks to Cup-holders and Champions.
'And even if they, in their turn, achieve so exalted a status, they may find themselves regretting the old unregenerate days when the charm of a visit lay in the uncertainty of what would happen there.'
The Times, 27 September 1952, on Ted Drake's decision to pension off Chelsea's long-held nickname in favour of 'the Blues'
GRATUITOUS MENTION OF DAVID BECKHAM TO INCREASE SALES MASSIVELY
Infamously, David Beckham's surname was mis-spelled 'Beckam' on the back of his shirt when he came on as a substitute during Chelsea's 1–1 Charity Shield draw with Manchester United at Wembley in August 1997 (a 4–2 loss on penalties).
Seven months earlier our club had made a more significant contribution to his life story. The midfielder had equalised Gianfranco Zola's early opener in the Premier League game at Chelsea's home in February 1997, a match which also ended 1–1. Afterwards, in the players' lounge under the East Stand, Beckham was approached by pop impresario Simon Fuller who introduced the footballer to a member of a band he managed – 'Posh' from the Spice Girls. That slightly awkward Stamford Bridge meeting blossomed into one of the great celebrity romanc ... (do I really need to write more? No? Good.) Victoria was obviously a well brought up young lady, otherwise we might now be pondering which club Stamford Beckham should sign for.
Incidentally, Chelsea's (and England's) assistant physio at the time was Terry Byrne. He would later become Beckham's personal manager. Presumably his duties included ensuring the surname was not mucked up again!
When Chelsea toured Argentina in 1929 the locals were impressed by the tourists' latest innovation – numbers on the backs of their shirts. The press instantly dubbed them 'Los Numerados' – the Numbered Ones. Chelsea had pioneered this aid to player identification, with outfield players wearing numbers 2 to 11 as a trial against Swansea Town on 25 August 1928 (Arsenal wore them the same day in Sheffield against The Wednesday).
'The 35,000 spectators were able to give credit for each bit of good work to the correct individual,' reported the Daily Express, 'because the team were numbered, and the large figures in black on white squares enabled each man to be identified without trouble.'
'I fancy the scheme has come to stay,' predicted the Daily Mirror. 'All that was required was a lead and London has supplied it.' However, it would be a further ten years before numbered shirts were universally adopted by the Football League.
Excerpted from The Chelsea FC by Rick Glanvill. Copyright © 2015 Rick Glanvill. Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
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