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Droy, Micky (1970-1985)


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Micky Droy (1970-1985)

Written by Loz in February 2008

droy2.jpg It is 1980 and Chelsea are playing against Cardiff in the League Cup (already I can tell you are thoroughly gripped, that is the sort of intro to a story that George Orwell longed to write but never achieved). A Chelsea player picked up the ball on the half way line, in almost muscle flexing glory burst forward toward the Cardiff goal, left three defenders in his wake and unleashed an absolute bullet into the back of the net. That the Chelsea team of that era could score a goal that good was enough of a surprise, that the goal scorer was our ‘take no sh*t’ centre half Micky Droy made it astounding (this is where I shatter the tale of glory by revealing that we lost 2-1 on aggregate over the two legs!)

The fact that in an interview 26 years later Droy has no recollection of that goal (and he only scored 19 in his 15 years at the club) paints a picture of a modest man with little or no interest in the glorification of his own achievements; a characteristic mirrored in his playing days in which he, as club captain, was a man who would have trusted his daughter with Mad Mick if it was for the betterment of the team. His spirit lives on in Geezer. He loved football, he loved Chelsea and the Chelsea fans, in turn, loved him. In 2006 he said “It was a privilege to play for Chelsea. They looked after me and I never wanted to play for anyone else.”

Micky was born on May 7th, 1951 in Islington, London, right in the very heart of Gooner country (you can hardly blame the lad for that, his parents clearly have a lot to answer for though). He actually grew up supporting Arsenal and trained at Highbury before getting rejected by them. The disappointment of that led to him giving up playing for a period and he only started up again when a mate of his persuaded him to get involved with a local Sunday league club. That led him into amateur football and he ended up playing for Slough.

micky%20droy%201971.gif Tommy Lawrence was the manager of Slough at the time and he was good friends with then Chelsea manager Dave Sexton. This lead to a friendly being arranged between the two clubs and Sexton was impressed enough by what he saw of Droy to offer him a contract. Droy initially turned him down, he was enjoying his time with Slough, was getting paid for it and had a job with a tiling firm which was providing steady income. ‘I felt it was a risk to give all that up and turn pro. What if it didn’t work out?’

Three months later, in 1970, Chelsea made him an improved offer and this time Micky accepted although only after approaching his boss and asking if he could come back to his job if it didn’t work out.

Micky was something of a man mountain. An intimidating 6 foot 4 centre half weighing in at 15 stone and blessed with an attitude which meant that no centre forward would finish ninety minutes against him without knowing they had been in a battle! A man of that physique making the step up from non league football to Chelsea was always destined to have doubts cast over him. And so it was when in his early training sessions alongside the likes of Ossie and Chopper he looked like a fish out of water.

In his autobiography Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris’ wrote "We bought him from Slough, and he looked useless. For such a big lad he couldn't even head the ball. He was a gentle giant, a big baby. If someone was going to fail a fitness test, you could bet it was going to be him."

david%20web%20%201971.gif At the time of signing Chelsea had a settled side, with John Dempsey and David Webb in central defence, with Marvin Hinton and Ron Harris also capable of playing in that position. For Droy to come in when he did, he must have known he'd be way down the pecking order, but he had enough self-belief (or bloody-mindedness) to sign anyway.

He was eased into the Chelsea squad very gradually not making his debut until 13th February of the 1970/71 season in a 1-0 defeat away at Wolves. He was 19 years old. He only made four league appearances that season however Sexton trusted him enough to turn to him during an injury crisis and pitch him into the starting eleven against Man City in the first leg of the semi final of the ECWC at the Bridge.

Chelsea won 1-0 on the night and were to go on and lift the trophy after a replay against Real Madrid. Although he didn’t feature in the final Droy remembers the events with some fondness: “Ater the first game of the final against Real Madrid all the team thought we would be heading back to the UK the following day and so went out on the town and got drunk. We didn’t realise the game has been rescheduled for a couple of days later and that we would be staying out in Greece. Tommy Baldwin and Charlie Cooke were missing and a couple of lads found them under a boat on the beach!”

72-73%20-%20mickey%20droy%20in%20action% Winning that European Cup Winners Cup papered over some hefty cracks as we were slap bang in the middle of an era for the club which was arguably the most financially screwed (my accountancy for dummies book has that as a technical term) one for the club and one in which Sexton dismantled the team by selling the likes of Osgood, and Hudson.

It took into the 1973/74 season for Droy to truly establish himself as a first team regular. This was to be the final year of Sexton’s reign as Chelsea manager and although many blamed Sexton for the loss of some our finest players he was a manager that Droy has nothing but admiration for.

“In two or three years I learned more from Dave then I did from anybody. He’s probably the best coach I ever trained with and he spent a lot of time with the younger players like myself and Gary Locke.”

It is probably worth adding that Droy admitted that Sexton wasn’t the greatest manager but considered him well ahead of his time as a coach in terms of visiting other countries to learn from foreign coaches and bring their methods and techniques back to Stamford Bridge. There was little or no money to spend on players and before the 70s were up Droy, now club captain, had suffered the ignominy of relegation on two occasions.

hutch%20hay%20and%20droy%201974.gif Chelsea were trying to exist under the financial weight of excessive stadium plans and this a factor which wasn’t lost on Droy: “The board at the time left a lot to be desired and I don’t blame the players, but the board. It’s one thing saying you will spend four million quid on a nice new stand but the only way to fill the stand up is to have a good team.” At least this is what he said when he was being kind. When he wasn’t he said:

“The Mears family and all that mob, no f**king idea at all them lot.”

The sacking of Sexton and temporary appointment of Ron Suart didn’t stop us tumbling into the second division in the 1974/75 season. The appointment of Eddie McCreadie as manager and the emergence of the likes of Ray Wilkins helped us win promotion in the 1976/77 season however it wasn’t Droy’s most memorable year. After a good start, a thrashing at the hands of Millwall resulted in McCreadie dropping Droy and he remained dropped for a further 18 matches. Maybe a tad harsh especially as Eddie Mac (a man I dare not criticise for fear of Bluebeard hunting me down) persisted in playing Graham Wilkins ahead of Ron Harris at full back. Having said that Micky was in competition with Davie Hay and Steve Wicks in the centre of defence and Hay was a class act whilst Wicks, like Droy, took few prisoners and was developing into a fine centre half under the guidance of the more experienced Hay.

76-77%20-%20mickey%20droy%20in%20action% Micky only played eight times that season although it should be pointed out that this was also down to a succession of injuries and illness. A man barely playing for the first team sounds like a man who would jump at the chance of a transfer, especially when there were a number of offers made to him by other clubs. Droy rejected every offer that came his way and later explained ‘If I had put my foot down I could have got a move, but I didn’t because I liked playing at Chelsea. The fans understood that and I think that is why they were on my side. They knew I was loyal.”

The return to the top flight was marred by what was becoming fairly standard Chelsea internal cock ups! McCreadie left due a dispute over the terms and conditions offered to him and Ken Shellito took over as manager. We ended the 1977/78 season in 16th spot (only four points above the drop zone) and one of the main men we have to thank for us not dropping back down to the old second division was player of the season Micky Droy.

The following season Droy was appointed as club captain when Wilkins was not available and this position became permanent when Wilkins moved onto Manchester United. His 1978/79 season was severely restricted by injuries and he only managed 14 league appearances. Without Micky our defence caved in and we conceded goals with a generosity not seen on these shores again until Liverpool started signing fourth rate African players for six figure sums. Shellito was sacked, Blanchflower brought in and Chelsea were relegated.

micky%20vs%20leeds%20circa%20190.gif Five consecutive years of second division football followed with the 1982/83 season seeing us avoid relegation to the old third division by a margin so thin you could have out a Versace dress on it and called it Posh Spice. The fighting spirit of Droy combined with the… errr.. fighting even harder, and at every opportunity, spirit of David Speedie were two of the fundamental reasons that we managed to beat the drop. In the penultimate game of that 82/83 season Chelsea played Bolton in a game which, had we lost, would have almost definitely seen us relegated. Manager John Neal approached his captain and asked “What do you think about this game?” Micky answered that we should try and nick a goal and then do what we could to hang on.

At that point Neal revealed he wasn’t intending to play Clive Walker but Droy pointed out that Walker was just the man to do a job on the break. Neal changed his plans, Walker played and scored the winning goal. Droy played a blinder that night and in the post match celebrations Walker, Mike Fillery and Gary Chivers threw their shirts into the middle of a hysterical Chelsea crowd. The cost of those shirts was taken out of their wages!!

It was probably during these years outside of the top flight that Micky’s image as a man you didn’t want to come up against in a alley, be it dark or well lit with top of the range CCTV, developed! If Micky wasn’t going to make the tackle he would simply tackle the man with his own body, whether that meant taking him down with a Chopper style foul or, far more primitively, just launching his body into the path of the on rushing forward didn’t really matter. As long as Micky stopped the danger then Micky got to eat raw flesh that night!

eating%20burgers.gif Micky was never the fittest player and this, combined with his natural size and whole hearted / full blooded approach to the game, meant he suffered more than his fair share of injuries. Unlike many players of the time he refused to take cortisone injections as he was savvy enough to realise the long term implications of this and, unlike in the current day, a footballer then was not able to earn enough in his relatively short playing career to set themselves up for life (financially speaking).

It would be easy to say that these injuries pretty much brought an end to his Chelsea career. After all he failed to make a single appearance in the 1983/84 season with his first team chances were restricted by the emergence of Colin Pates and Joe McLaughlin. However his moving on was as much to so with his relationship with Ken Bates as it was with his first team chances. Colin Pates was now the team captain but Droy remained as the club captain and it was in this role what he was to run foul of Chelsea’s relatively new owner.


Droy explained: “He liked people that would do what they were told. I was in charge of the players and so he thought he could come to me and tell me what to do, dictate to me what he felt had to happen. I said ‘You can’t do that’. He would come to me and say ‘This year these are the bonuses, this is this, now you go and tell your players that this is how it is.”

“I remember I’d go to him and say, ‘I ain’t doing that, that’s wrong.’

“I’m telling you to do it, so do it,’ he said.

‘I don’t give a f**k what you’re telling me.’

Unsurprisingly Droy found himself out of the first team squad and he went out on loan to Luton in November and December 1984, before moving to Crystal Palace on a free transfer in March 1985. He was 33 when he signed for Palace (if I am not mistake Steve Coppell was the manager at the time) and it is fair to say the Palace fans were not expecting too much from him however he proved to be something of a short term salvation for them as he was instrumental in solidifying a defence that had started shipping goals in a manner not see until Kevin Keegan returned to Newcastle in 2008. He later went to Brentford on a free in November 1986 until May 1987 before serving Kingstonian as player, coach, and later manager between 1987 and 1994.

Micky didn’t save his no nonsense approach for the opposition as Kerry Dixon can testify to. Dixon tells a tale of a pitch invasion in his playing days when Micky Droy grabbed one of the culprits with one hand, lifted him off the ground and handed him to a nearby (and probably slightly startled) copper. Shed End regular Bluemonty tells a similar tale of his first ever Chelsea game when he was about 9 years old; “Luton Town v Chelsea, half hour on the bus for me to get to Luton, Chelsea lost 4-0 but the fans went mental. This big geezer said at 3-0, ‘if they score again we’re on the pitch!’ Need I say more? 4-0 and hundreds ran on and my neighbour said ‘come on lets go home’ As we were going I never forget BIG MICKY DROY grabbing a Chelsea fan lifting him of his feet and throwing him back in the Chelsea end. All the things that happened that day, and a lot more did happen after the game, but the sight of the big man will always stay in my mind.”

chelsea%20liverppol%201982%20facup.gif Backbiter, another Shed End regular, said of him “The best I ever saw him play was in our famous 2-0 FA cup win over the European champs Liverpool in 1982, when we were stuck in Div 2. He was marking Dalglish who was in fantastic form and rated the best player in Britain. He was famous for his strength and skill on the ball and his ability to turn defenders. Micky was wise to his tricks and simply stood off him, making him unable to turn, and had him in his pocket all game. He was unbelievable that day.”

Funnily enough Droy also remembers that game; “We had a funny hoodoo over them. I don’t know why. I think maybe it was because on both occasions (he was also referring to us beating them 4-2 in the FA Cup in 1978) we had quick youngsters and the Liverpool boys didn’t like it. Mind you they had some class. Kenny Dalglish was something else and I remember having to whack him a good few times. You had to do something to slow him down.”

His love for Chelsea was reciprocated by the Chelsea fan’s love for him with the Chelsea faithful often to be heard singing ‘6 foot 2, eyes of Blue, Micky Droy is after you! La la la la, la la la, la la’ or ‘Micky’s gonna get ya! Micky’s gonna get ya!’ a chant which had previously been the crowd’s mating call when Chopper Harris was scaring the living crap out of the opposition strikers. Bluebeard recalls that the "Micky's Gonna Get Ya" chants started when Eddie Mac's young players began to get bullied by older, tougher opposition players. Wilkins, Britton, Lewington or Stanley would get hacked down or fouled, and a few minutes later the offender would be on his arse after special attention from Micky.

micky%20against%20john%20deeham%20of%20v Interestingly Micky’s love affair with the fans was not extended to a certain Micky Greenaway. Greenaway is something of a cult figure amongst Chelsea fans and with his reputation ranging from being a glorified hooligan to a diehard Chelsea fan whose association with the hooligan problem was not as extreme as some reports would have you believe. Where the truth lies is up to you to decide for yourself and it is a decision that Droy has made quite clearly for himself.

“There was this fella, Mick Greenaway, who was the head guy and made out he was a big Chelsea fan, but I thought he was a twat. He was in his forties and he went on about how he travelled all over the country for Chelsea, but really I found him to be an idiot just looking for trouble……… It’s easy to say I travel to watch my team, but why was it he was always getting the team into trouble? To me that is not being a supporter.”

In Rick Glanvill’s book ‘Chelsea FC The Official Biography – The Definitive Story of the First 100 Years’ Micky doesn’t even merit an entry in the index meaning the only reference to him is in the appendices covering player appearances etc. Given that he made just over 300 first team appearances in a Chelsea career that spanned 15 years and was named our player of the year in 1978 I find this surprising and disappointing. He may have not had the flair of Osgood and Cooke, the football brain of Ray Wilkins or the single mindedness of Chopper Harris but he lived, breathed and loved Chelsea and did so much as any other Chelsea player you could care to mention.

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