Sunday, October 7, 2012
A crowd of 67,000 attended a league
A crowd of 67,000 attended a league game against Manchester United on Good Friday 1906, a then-record for a football match in London. 55,000 attended the first-ever London derby in the top division, against Woolwich Arsenal, a record for a First Division match. 77,952 attended a fourth round FA Cup tie against Swindon on 13 April 1911. Sony VAIO VGN-AW83FS Battery
1919–20, the first full season following the war, was Chelsea's most successful up to that point. Led by 24 goal striker Jack Cock, the club's latest glamour signing, they finished 3rd in the league – then the highest league finish for a London club – and reached the FA Cup semi-finals, only to be denied by eventual winners Aston Villa, Sony VAIO VGN-AW83GS Battery
which saw them miss out on a chance to play in the final at Stamford Bridge. The club were relegated again in 1923–24 and in four of the next five seasons were to narrowly miss out on promotion, finishing 5th, 3rd, 4th and 3rd. With long serving mainstays including Willie Ferguson, Tommy Law andAndy Wilson, Chelsea finally reached the First Division again in 1929–30, where the club was to remain for the next 32 years. Sony VAIO VGN-AW83HS Battery
To capitalise on the 1930 promotion, the club spent £25,000 ($49,000) on three big-name players; Scots Hughie Gallacher,Alex Jackson and Alec Cheyne. Gallacher in particular was one of the biggest talents of his era, known for his goalscoring and for having captained Newcastle to a championship in 1926–27. Sony VAIO VGN-AW90NS Battery
He and Jackson had also been members of theWembley Wizards team (as had Law), the Scotland team which beat England 5–1 at Wembley in 1928.
However, though the team occasionally clicked, such as in a 6–2 win over Manchester United and a 5–0 win overSunderland, none of the trio had the desired impact. Sony VAIO VGN-AW90S Battery
Gallacher was Chelsea's top scorer in each of his four seasons, scoring 81 goals in total, but his time in west London was hindered by his personal troubles and punctuated by long suspensions for indiscipline, including a two month ban for swearing at a referee. Jackson and Cheyne struggled to settle at the club and were unable re-capture their previous achievements. Sony VAIO VGN-AW90US Battery
The trio did not make 300 appearances between them and by 1936 all had left at a significant financial loss to the club. Their disappointment epitomised Chelsea's flaws throughout the decade, whereby performances and results rarely matched the calibre of players at the club. Money was spent, but some feel it was too often spent on inappropriate players, especially forwards, while the defence remained neglected. Sony VAIO VGN-AW91CDS Battery
The FA Cup was to be the closest the club came to silverware. In 1932, the team secured impressive wins over Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday, and were drawn against Newcastle United in the semi-finals. Tommy Lang inspired Newcastle to a 2–0 lead, before Gallacher pulled one back for Chelsea. Sony VAIO VGN-AW91CJS Battery
The Blues laid siege to the United goal in the second half, but were unable to make a breakthrough and the Geordies went on to lift the trophy.
Calderhead stepped down in 1933 and was replaced by Leslie Knighton, but the appointment saw little change in Chelsea's fortunes. Sony VAIO VGN-AW91CYS Battery
At different times during the decade the club had on its books such players as Tommy Law, Sam Weaver, Syd Bishop, Harry Burgess, Dick Spence and Joe Bambrick, all established internationals, yet their highest league finish in the decade was 8th. Ironically, two of the club's most reliable players during the decade cost them nothing: Sony VAIO VGN-AW91DS Battery
goalkeeper Vic Woodley, who was to win 19 consecutive caps for England, and centre-forward George Mills, the first player to score 100 league goals for Chelsea. They avoided relegation by two points in 1932–33 and 1933–34, and by one point in 1938–39. Sony VAIO VGN-AW91JS Battery
Another promising cup run in 1939, which included wins over Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday, petered out with a home loss to Grimsby Town in the quarter-finals.
The club continued to be one of the country's best-supported teams. The visit of Arsenal on 12 October 1935 attracted a crowd 82,905 to Stamford Bridge, Sony VAIO VGN-AW91YS Battery
which remains a club record and the second highest ever attendance at an English league match. Crowds of almost 50,000 attended Gallacher and Jackson's home debuts. In 1939, with the club having come no closer to on-field success, Knighton stepped down. He was succeeded by Scotsman and former Queens Park Rangers manager,Billy Birrell. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92CDS Battery
Birrell was appointed Chelsea manager shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. Three games into the 1939–40 season, first class football was abandoned in Britain for the duration of the conflict, meaning that all wartime results are only regarded as unofficial. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92CJS Battery
Chelsea competed in a series of regional competitions and, like every other club, saw their squad severely depleted by the war effort (only two members of Chelsea's 1938–39 team ever played for them again). The club thus fielded a series of "guest" players, most notably Matt Busby, Walter Winterbottom and Eddie Hapgood. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92CYS Battery
They also competed in theFootball League War Cup, during which they made their Wembley debut, losing 1–3 to Charlton Athletic in the 1944 final, and beating Millwall 2–0 a year later in front of crowds of over 80,000. After the latter match, John Harris became the first Chelsea captain to lift a trophy at Wembley, receiving the cup fromPrime Minister Winston Churchill. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92DS Battery
In October 1945, with the War having just ended, the English football authorities sought a way to celebrate the return of the peace-time game. As part of agoodwill gesture, it was announced that FC Dynamo Moscow, reigning champions of the Soviet Union, would tour the United Kingdom and play several home teams, including Chelsea. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92JS Battery
The match took place on 13 November at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea wearing an unfamiliar red strip due to a clash with Dynamo's blue kit. Before kick-off, the Dynamo players presented a bouquet of flowers to their opposite number. The Russian team surprised many observers with their talent and tenacity by fighting back from 0–2 and 2–3 down to earn a 3–3 draw. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92YS Battery
An estimated crowd of over 100,000 people attended the match, with thousands entering the ground illegally. This crowd is the highest ever recorded at Stamford Bridge. Spectators watched from numerous obscure places, including many on the dog track and on the top of stands. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93FS Battery
Following the war, Chelsea again spent big, and again bought three big-name forwards, this time Tommy Lawton, Len Goulden and Tommy Walker, for around £22,000. The trio provided both goals and entertainment – Lawton set a new club record by scoring 26 goals in 34 league games in 1946–47 Sony VAIO VGN-AW93GS Battery
– but Chelsea finished 15th that season and never finished above 13th under Birrell. After a falling out with Birrell, Lawton was sold to Notts County for £20,000; his replacement was Roy Bentley, signed from Newcastle United for £11,500 in 1948.
1950 saw Chelsea enjoy another run in the FA Cup. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93HS Battery
After beating Manchester United 2–0 in a pulsating quarter-final, they were drawn to face London rivalsArsenal at White Hart Lane. Two goals from Bentley put Chelsea in control, but a freak goal from Arsenal (Chelsea's goalkeeper misjudged a corner and punched it into his own net) just before half-time turned the game. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZFS Battery
Arsenal equalised 15 minutes from full-time and then won the replay 1–0.
A year later, Chelsea seemed destined for relegation: with four games remaining, they were six points behind, at the bottom of the table, and without a win in fourteen matches. After unexpectedly winning the first three, Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZGS Battery
Chelsea went into their final match needing to beat Bolton Wanderers and hoping for the right result between fellow relegation candidates Everton and Sheffield Wednesday. Chelsea won 4–0 and Wednesday beat Everton 6–0, thus ensuring Chelsea's survival on goal average by 0.044 of a goal. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZHS Battery
In 1952, Chelsea again faced Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals and after a 1–1 tie in the first match, lost the replay 3–0. Birrell resigned shortly afterwards.
Birrell's biggest contribution to Chelsea was off the field. In a bid to counter the spiraling cost of transfer fees in football, Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11EN Battery
he oversaw the development of an extensive new youth and scouting programme, headed by ex-players Dickie Foss, Dick Spence and Jimmy Thompson, which would ultimately see the club produce its own players. The policy would provide the core of Chelsea's first team for the next three decades in particular, Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11MN Battery
producing such players as Jimmy Greaves,Bobby Smith, Peter Osgood, Peter Bonetti, Ray Wilkins, Ron Harris, Bobby Tambling, Alan Hudson, Terry Venables and John Hollins.
In 1952, former Arsenal and England striker Ted Drake was appointed manager. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11XN Battery
One of the first "tracksuit managers" who used to shake each player by the hand and wish them "all the best" before each match, Drake proceeded to modernise the club, both on and off the field. One of his first actions was to remove the image of a Chelsea pensioner from the match programme and the club's old nicknamewas no more. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ12VN Battery
From then on they were to be known as the Blues. This also led to the introduction of a new "lion rampant" crest.
He improved the training regime, introducing ballwork to training sessions, a practice rare in England at the time; Sony VAIO VGN-BZ12XN Battery
the youth and scouting systems begun by his predecessor were extended and he abandoned the club's old recruiting policy of signing often unreliable stars, opting instead for lesser known but more reliable players from the lower divisions. He also urged the club's fans to be more partisan and to get behind the team. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ31VT Battery
Drake's early years were unpromising, as Chelsea finished 19th and just a point away from relegation in his first season and 8th in his second.
In 1954–55, the club's jubilee year, everything clicked. The team found a consistency rate not previously there as Chelsea unexpectedly won the First Division title. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ31XT Battery
It included goalkeeper Charlie 'Chic' Thomson, amateur players Derek Saunders and Jim Lewis, central midfielder Johnny 'Jock' McNichol, wingers Eric "Rabbit" Parsons and Frank Blunstone, defender Peter Sillett and future England manager Ron Greenwood in central defence, as well old club stalwarts, right back Ken Armstrong, Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560 Battery
left-back Stan Willemse and veteran defender John Harris. Perhaps the only genuine star in the side was captain, top-scorer (with 21 league goals) and England international Roy Bentley.