Many people seem to believe Chelsea Football Club has no history whatsoever- however they are wrong, the club has a large, interesting history that very few know about
The popular myth of Chelsea that exists is that they only started making an impact on the football world when Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s current owner, brought the club. Although this myth couldn’t be further from the truth!
Chelsea Football Club was formed in 1905, the same year two other London clubs were formed- Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic. The club was formed in a London Pub, called the Rising Sun in the Fulham area.
The club started off in the football league division two, but quickly rised up to the top flight due to a number of loyal, successful players at the club. These players allowed the club to grow, as an enormous amount fans turned up at games to see these players- bringing money to the club. At the time Chelsea were playing at Stamford Bridge (where they still play now) , making it a truly historic stadium. In 1906 for a top of the table clash against United- Stamford Bridge held 67,000 people- a first at the time.
The players that played throughout Chelsea’s first decade of existence became club legends. These players included: William Foulke, a giant 23 stone goalkeeper, and George Hildson who became the first Blue to ever score a century of goals.
Around 10 years later, the original founder of Chelsea(Gus Mears) died, however this didn’t stop the progress of the club.Chelsea quickly became the best-supported club in Britain, averaging attendances of over 40,000. Chelsea became a ‘yo-yo’ club throughout their early years- but this didn’t affect their huge crowds.
Due to the large crowds, Chelsea gained a lot of money, which they went on to spend on massive names and some of the top divisions first foreign players. Chelsea F.C gained a reputation as a rich team- a reputation that still exists today. However the reputation is not true, Chelsea came from humble beginnings in a pub and worked their way up to gain the money from crowds.
Just before World War One Chelsea competed in their first ever F.A cup final, 10 years after they were founded, but lost to Sheffield United. Also in that season Chelsea were relegated but soon reinstated back into the top division after it was found out that Liverpool and Manchester United players fixed games to stay in the league at Chelsea’s expense.
During the ‘war to end all wars’ a number of Chelsea players were killed or severely wounded, however some club legends returned after war- such as Vivian Woodward.
During the 1920’s Chelsea started to recover from the War and Stamford Bridge became the new F.A cup final venue for a few years. In 1928 Chelsea went on a pioneering tour to South America to play pre-season games, something that virtually no team had ever done before. Chelsea’s history was growing and the dream of the founders in the pub had become a reality.
The 1930’s was a frustrating time for Chelsea, no awards were won or progress was made in the top two divisions from which they yo-yo’ed. During the decade the Shed End was created, where the most loyal fans still situate today.
Also in the 1930’s Chelsea’s longest serving manager (David Calderhead) ever left his job after 26 years as manager. He left the blueprint of buying crowd-pleasers, although the managers in coming decades would take a different approach…
The progress of the club was halted as a result of Word War Two and Chelsea’s next managers had to halt their new ideas due to the war. Many Chelsea players served in war. The manager of the club throughout the time of war was Billy Birrell. Birrell was so passionate about the club that when an un-exploded bomb was found in the terraces he set it off himself (so a game wouldn’t be postponed) after the bomb disposal team were too busy. Now that’s passion.
In the 40’s Birrell went against the blueprint and started to develop young, home grown talent rather than buying lots of foreign players- something that many Chelsea fans today are calling for.
In the 50’s the next manager, Ted Drake, continued the modernisation of the club. Chelsea narrowly avoided relegation in 1951- however from that moment Chelsea became a whole different club. The focus was on youth and a production line of young players was created. The most notable was one of the best English talents ever, Jimmy Greaves. 4 years later Chelsea won the League Championship in the 54-55 season- Chelsea’s first ever major trophy! Roy Bentley also emerged as one of Chelsea’s best ever strikers, scoring 150 goals in 367 games.
In the following decade Chelsea came close to every trophy available available, however always fell short at crucial moments. In the 60’s the only trophy they won was the League Cup. They also won the F.A cup in 1970. A number of Club Legends were created during the 60’s aswell, including: Peter Bonetti (729 games), Ron Harris(795 games) and Bobby Tambling (370 games). So Chelsea do have club legends!
In 1971 Chelsea won their first ever European trophy against Real Madrid, another amazing Fete. However 20 years of bad luck were to follow. Chelsea faced numerous financial problems all of a sudden after a failed redevelopment of Stamford Bridge. Fans turned on the club and hooliganism thrived at the Bridge. The selling of Ray Wilkins marked the failure of the club in this period- they had sold their star, homegrown talent to pay off debt. Eventually, Ken Bates(a chairman of Wigan) brought the club for £1. The Mears’ relationship with the club was finally over.
Chelsea then endured a yo-yo period yet again throughout the 80’s and eventually seemed to become secure in the top flight in the 90’s. In this decade a new, modern Chelsea was formed. Glenn Hoddle became the manager, then Ruud Gullit and then Gianluca Vialli. All of them started to make Chelsea glamorous again as they were previously. Huge stars joined the club such as Mark Hughes, Frank Leboeuf, Gianfranco Zola and Marcel Desailly. This brought a period of success once again to Chelsea as they won FA Cup, League Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup. Enormous success had returned to Chelsea after years of suffering.
Roman Abramovich brought the club in 2003 from Ken Bates and excelled the club even further! Homegrown talents such as Lampard and Terry progressed alongside stars such as Drogba and Makelele. Since the takeover titles have been brought to the Bridge year after year with Abramovich still the owner currently. Despite the success many loyal Chelsea fans want to return to an era of home grown players.
So there you have it- it is a MYTH that Chelsea have no history- they have a wealth of it. Chelsea F.C was created in a pub and now is one of the biggest clubs in the world. They have gone through hard times and the fans have fought to keep the club alive so it can be at the level it’s at today.