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Chelsea v West Brom Sept 1905

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Chelsea F.C. v Woolwich Arsenal 1907 (7190503) Framed Prints

Chelsea . v Woolwich Arsenal 1907
The first Football League match between two teams from the southern half of England. Two years after their founding, Chelsea play host to Woolwich Arsenal in front of over 60, 000 spectators at Stamford Bridge, and win 2 - 1. On the left, the two captains, Windridge and Sands, shaking hands.

On the right, the Chelsea goalkeeper makes a save. Date: 9th Nov 1907.

Edited by erskblue

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The part of the article about Vivian Woodward when he was playing for us.


Woodward decided to play instead for Chelmsford in the South Essex League. However, on 20th November, 1909, he changed his mind and announced he would play for Chelsea. It seems that Woodward was a good friend of Chelsea's chairman and he had been asked to help out during an injury crisis.


Woodward played his first game in the First Division of the Football League against Sheffield Wednesday on 27th November 1909. That game ended in defeat but the following week Chelsea beat Bristol City 4-1 with Woodward scoring two of the goals with headers. Despite the goals scored by Woodward, Chelsea was still relegated that season. Woodward's form was so good he was recalled to the international team and played in the 1-1 draw with Ireland.

In the 1910-11 season Chelsea finished in 3rd place in the Second Division. That year he played his final game for England, scoring two goals in the 6-1 victory over Wales. Over an eight year period he had scored 29 goals in 23 games (13 as captain). A record that stood until Tom Finney beat it in 1958. However, Finney played in 72 games for his 30 goals.

Vivian Woodward is second from the right in the front row. Vivian Woodward is second from the right in the front row.

On 31st March, 1911, Woodward broke his arm in a game against Derby County. That year he played in only 19 out of 38 games. However, this was enough to help Chelsea finish 2nd in the league and promoted to the First Division.

The 1912 Olympic Games took place in Stockholm, Sweden. Woodward was once again captain of the England team that beat Hungary (7-0) and Finland (4-0) to reach the final against Denmark. Woodward won his second goal medal when England beat Denmark 4-2 on 4th July, 1912.

Chelsea again struggled in the First Division but with Woodward scoring 11 goals in 30 games, the club avoided relegation. The following season Chelsea finished in 8th place. Woodward, now 36 years old, was losing his pace and only scored four goals that season.

Woodward continued to play tennis and on two occasions, 1912 and 1913, reached the final of the Lawn Tennis Championship. He continued to captain the England amateur team playing his last game against Sweden on 12th June 1914. In 44 amateur internationals, Woodward scored an amazing 57 goals in 44 games.

On the outbreak of the First World War Woodward immediately joined the Territorial Army and applied for a commission in the British Army. On 9th February 1915 he was transferred to the 17th Service (Football) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment as a second lieutenant. The Football Battalion had been founded on 12th December 1914 by William Joynson Hicks. Other members of this regiment included Walter Tull and Evelyn Lintott.

However, before he was sent to the Western Front, he still played a few games for Chelsea. That year Chelsea reached the FA Cup Final. The army agreed to release Woodward so that he could end his career at Wembley. Woodward declined the offer as he was unwilling to deprive Bob Thompson, who had been the team's regular centre-forward that season, of winning a medal. Chelsea was beaten 3-1 by Sheffield United in the final. During his time at Chelsea he had scored 34 goals in 116 games.

On 15th January 1916, the Football Battalion reached the front-line. During a two-week period in the trenches four members of the Football Battalion were killed and 33 were wounded. This included Woodward who was hit in the leg with a hand grenade. The injury to his right thigh was so serious that he was sent back to England to recover.

Woodward did not return to the Western Front until August 1916. The Football Battalion had taken heavy casualties during the Somme offensive in July. This included the death of England international footballer, Evelyn Lintott. The battle was still going on when Woodward arrived but the fighting was less intense. However, on 18th September a German attack involving poison gas killed 14 members of the battalion.

In December 1916 the Brigade Inter-Company Football Tournament took place. The 17th Middlesex beat 1st Kings (12-0) and 2nd South Staffs (10-0) on the way to the final against the 34th Brigade RFA. Understandably, the Football Battalion won the tournament. It is not known who played in these matches but it seems likely that Captain Woodward played a prominent part in this victory.

On 26th March 1917 Woodward was sent back to England to be trained as a physical training instructor at the Physical and Recreation Training School Headquarters at Aldershot. In early 1918 Woodward joined the First Army in France. After the Armistice Woodward because the coach of the British Army Football team. In 1919, aged 39, he captained the English Army to victory in the final of the "Inter-Theatre-of-War Championship" at Stamford Bridge. Woodward scored one of the goals in England's 3-2 victory over the French Army.

Vivian Woodward was eventually demobilized on 23rd May 1919 and returned to his new home at the Towers, Weeley Heath, near Clacton. Although now over forty, he still played the occasional game for Chelmsford and Clacton. On 4th March, 1920, Woodward played for Essex against Suffolk. Despite scoring a stunning goal, he could not prevent Suffolk winning 4-3. Woodward played his last game on 15th September 1920 when he turned out for Chelsea in a charity match for the families of soldiers.

Woodward also retired from his successful architectural practice in order to run a farm at Weeley Heath. He was especially proud that he had designed the main stand in the Antwerp Stadium. Woodward also established a diary business in Connaught Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea. Woodward kept his interest in football by serving as a director of Chelsea (1922-1930).

During the Second World War Woodward was a Air Raid Warden. In 1949 he was taken ill and entered a nursing home in Castlebar Road, Ealing. In 1953 he was visited by the journalist, Bruce Harris, who reported that Woodward was "bedridden, paralysed, infirm beyond his seventy-four years". Woodward complained that "no one who used to be with me in football has been to see me for two years".

Vivian Woodward died in the nursing home on 6th February,

By John Simkin (john@spartacus-educational.com) © September 1997 (updated January 2020).


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From Stamford Bridge to the trenches – Chelsea and the First World War

5 November 20180 Comments

news Sport



The first post-war Chelsea side in 1919

On the Centenary of Armistice, guest blogger and historian Alexandra Churchill looks at the sacrifices made by those connected with Chelsea Football Club in the First World War.


alexandra_churchill.jpg?itok=VQhgQ2RO Alexandra Churchill

Chelsea Football Club, formed in 1905, was still in its infancy at the outbreak of the Great War.

There had been preliminary suggestions that it was improper for the Football League to continue, and an impassioned campaign began to suppress the playing of professional matches in particular.

In 1914, though, Britain had not yet reached the point at which the she needed to conscript all of her men into uniform – and the 1914-15 season began.

Chelsea, like all clubs, felt the strain of wartime operation. The club had calculated that a minimum turnover of £700 per game was required to keep it afloat, but crowds were thin.

For those that did attend, there was a heavy emphasis on fundraising. A small legion of local young ladies wearing bright sashes volunteered to help convince supporters to empty their pockets.

They floated through the crowd at matches, shouting ‘pay up and look pleasant!’ and ‘do your bit for the boys who are doing their bit for you!’

Wounded soldiers were entertained at Stamford Bridge, as were numbers of Belgian refugees who were most enthusiastic about the team’s fortunes. Thousands of soldiers were encamped about London and a trip into town for the football was a welcome weekend outing.

While the press continued its endeavours to demonise football, the players at Chelsea had joined those of clubs up and down the country in preparing for the eventuality that they may have to go to war.

After comedic beginnings, rifle drill at Chelsea was beginning to yield results.

Presided over by the apparently terrifying figure of Colour Sergeant Meacher, a ‘very candid critic’, the awkward ‘regiment’ of players, club officials and friends who were too old to enlist lined up in front of him. Bravely they weathered his booming voice under the floodlights in front of the club’s offices.

A group of Chelsea fans made an effort to enlist together in the Royal Sussex Regiment, led by a clerk named Clifford Whitley, who was employed in the offices of the Daily Mail.


fulham_town_hall_military_recruitment.jp Armed forces recruitment outside Fulham Town Hall

But the major contribution made by Chelsea in recruitment was to help found the 17th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment.

On 15 December 1914, 500-odd men congregated at Fulham Town Hall to discuss the formation of the 17th Middlesex Regiment.

There were players present from a host of clubs, including Chelsea, Fulham, Clapton Orient, Bradford City, Brighton.

As the meeting concluded thirty-five players, three of them on Chelsea’s books, had signed up for this ‘Footballers Battalion.’

At Christmas the local Chronicle was touting for fans to join it under the heading ‘Any more Chelseaites for Berlin in the spring?’ Men were encouraged to go to the club office to ‘sign on, like an international footballer.’

As 1915 dawned Chelsea were fourth from bottom of the league, but the 1914/15 season would host the only FA Cup run in the competition’s history played out while the country was embroiled in a World War. And the Pensioners reached their first final.

The amount of uniformed spectators in the crowd at Old Trafford lent it the nickname of the ‘Khaki Cup Final.’ At half-time, the band played ‘Tipperary’; and a collection was made for the Red Cross - sheets held out for fans to toss pennies onto.

The light was fading fast when Sheffield United ran out 3-0 winners.

Amateur football was largely petering out of its own accord. By late April still no decision had been taken and in fact it would not be until July that it was ordained that there would be no more competitive matches.


stamford_bridge_military_crowd.jpg?itok= Military crowd at Stamford Bridge

No more contracts employing men to play for a living were to be drawn up. Professional football was now on indefinite hiatus.

At Stamford Bridge the makeshift, amateur London Combination league was a profitable venture in entertaining a crowd for the rest of the war. The Blues won it comfortably in 1915/16, and again by a single point in 1917/18 at the expense of West Ham.

The club searched for other ways to fill Stamford Bridge while the war raged on, including hosting a raucous baseball match between the US Navy and US Army: attended by the King on 4 July 1918.

Familiar faces at Stamford Bridge: of fans, players and staff associated with the club, would not return after the armistice. But the Blues survived being shaken to the core by events on a worldwide scale.

One hundred years later Chelsea Football Club lives on.

And sharing the same traditions as long ago, in the remembrance of all of those associated with the club at the centenary of the Great War, so too does a sense of gratitude for those who left the pitch and terraces: to fight, and never return.

Buy Alexandra Churchill’s book – Over Land and Sea: Chelsea FC and the Great War.

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Chelsea v. Liverpool, Stamford Bridge 9 9 1912, Chelsea centre ...


'Chelsea v. Liverpool, Stamford Bridge 9th Sept 1912,
Chelsea centre rushes in and beats the Liverpool defence, Stamford Bridge.' (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Mon, 9th Sept 1912 with a 17:00 kick off, We lost 2-1 in front of 25,000.

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Chelsea v Sunderland, at Stamford Bridge : News Photo

On the attack v Sunderland, at The Bridge, 1909-10 League.


We lost 4-1. So much for the programme cover !

And were actually relegated at the end of the 1909/10 season.

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English League Division One match at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea 0 v ...

English League Division One match at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea 0 v Manchester United 2.

Vivian Woodward of Chelsea (right) shakes hands with United captain George Stacy before kick off. 20th September 1913.

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Speaking to the Gatling Gun: An “interview” with George Hilsdon

GOTP Editorial Team

Posted on March 4, 2016


GAME OF THE PEOPLE has been able to access some archive material from a lesser-known newspaper from the early 20th century. From a series of spotlight articles, we have been able to produce an interview with Chelsea and England centre forward George Hilsdon. It has been written in the modern style as if GOTP had an exclusive interview with the player known as “Gatling-Gun”. The words of Hilsdon are actually taken from these archive articles. This brief interview takes place in the Chelsea dressing room on the eve of the 1907-08 season.


George Hilsdon was enjoying a glass of cloudy lemonade as he sat sweating following an intense training session at Stamford Bridge. There was an air of expectation about the ground as the club prepared for its debut first division campaign. The beads of perspiration were rolling off his head and his hair, to quote the Chelsea centre forward, was “as dank as seaweed”. His team-mates were dotted around the dressing room, either sitting on the wooden forms or were walking around in various stages of nudity, enjoying a rub-down from the trainer. There was plenty of good-natured banter going on as Hilsdon talked of the summer training sessions. Jimmy Windridge, another of Chelsea’s talented forwards, was singing “Excelsior” but was stopped in his tracks by the flick of a damp towel. “That was the vilest bray I have heard outside the throat of a donkey,” joked Hilsdon.

He had come a long way from his humble beginnings in Bromley-by-Bow, where he was born in 1885. He was spotted playing at Marner Street School and then Plashet Lane. After his schooldays, Hilsdon played for Boleyn Castle FC and later South West Ham FC. On Sundays, he turned out for the British Empire FC. Before too long West Ham had signed him  as an amateur. “I scored nine goals against Barking National and that was enough for West Ham to invite me along,” he recalled.

Scoring goals has always come naturally to Hilsdon and there have been several occasions where he has netted in multiples in a single game. “I remember with some satisfaction the four goals I put in against Bristol Rovers for West Ham in a Western League match,” he said.

Hilsdon was injured in 1904-05 season and was still suffering from the after-effect in 1905-06, but Chelsea’s manager, John Tait Robertson saw something special in the young forward and took him to South West London.

HilsdonAt Chelsea, he made a big impact in his first game, scoring five against Glossop on his debut. The Fulham Chronicle reported: “Hilsdon’s form was quite phenomenal – he justified the high opinions which had already been formed of him, and his “bar” of five goals stamps him as a first-rate marksman.”

He scored 10 goals in the first eight games of the 1906-07 season and was soon attracting the attention of the international selectors.

In fact, he was picked to play for the Football League against the Irish League in 1906-07, scoring three of the League’s six goals. In February 1907, he lined-up for England in the British Championship game against Ireland at Goodison Park. Hilsdon was not too pleased with the way his England debut went: “I was injured while shooting for goal. Nobody was to blame, I jarred the muscles in my foot myself.” A lot of people felt that the Irish had set out to injure Hilsdon after his performance against the league side.

He ended 1906-07 with 28 goals, all scored in the league, and promotion from the second division. How important he will be to Chelsea’s season among the big names of the English game.


A special thanks to Mr Hilsdon for his words of wisdom!

twitter: @gameofthepeople

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Stamford Bridge expansion: A nostalgic look at black-and-white ...

September 1918: Crowds on the pitch at Stamford Bridge during a sports day in aid of disabled men (Image: A. R. Coster/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Original caption.

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Boosted by Buchan – Chelsea's forgotten title of 1916 |

Boosted by Buchan – Chelsea’s forgotten title of 1916

GOTP Editorial Team

Posted on December 16, 2019

Great Dane - Nils Middleboe

Great Dane – Nils Middleboe

FOOTBALL in the two World Wars has largely been overlooked by historians. It was only in recent years that the contribution of the sport to public morale during times of conflict was acknowledged. This replaced what was a feeling of discomfort about a mere pastime being continued during a time of intense strife. The game in the Great War has often been swept under scullery mats by those that felt it should have been abandoned until peace returned. The plethora of cartoons suggesting that football was, indeed unnecessary, underlined the mood of the time.

Most football clubs ignored their “war record” and many record books simply pointed to “competition suspended”. Little wonder, then, that some clubs failed to mark their successes during what was a very low profile set of competitions during the wars. In the case of WW1, clubs played numerous regional leagues, which were largely poorly attended, especially in metropolitan areas where a large football crowd might be ready-made target practice for a bomb-laden airship.

Chelsea, historically, paid little attention to their WW1 performance. Of course, football continued in its conventional format in 1914-15, despite a lot of criticism and soul-searching. On the flip-side, football did allow itself to become a recruitment centre for Kitchener’s army. Chelsea reached the FA Cup final in 1915, but they had also finished in a relegation position. Once the 1914-15 season was finished, football adopted a more austere model, and one of the beneficiaries in the south of England were “the Pensioners” as they were then known.

With troop movements all over the country, Chelsea’s team, like most London clubs, had guest players appearing. Basically, if there was a chance to get a top name in your side because he happened to be barracked nearby, the club would take it. In Chelsea’s case, they picked up one Lance-Corporal C. Buchan. This was none other than Charles Buchan, who would later lend his name to Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly, and prior to that, would play for Sunderland, Arsenal and England.

Buchan was an England international when he turned out for Chelsea in 1915-16. He had been a member of Sunderland’s 1913 team that so nearly won the “double”, but had to settle for “just” the league title. And he was widely regarded as the best player in the country. Chelsea knew all about him – he had scored twice against them in a 4-0 Sunderland win in 1912-13 and once in 1913-14.

Buchan was a Londoner, despite playing for Sunderland. He was born in Plumstead and started his career with his local club, Woolwich Arsenal, and then moved on to Leyton. He transferred to Sunderland in 1911. Buchan, who was training to be a teacher, enlisted early on after war was declared. He was told that he was tall enough to be a Grenadier Guard and was sent down to London. In 1916, he was sent to the Western Front and saw action at the Somme, Cambrai and Passchendale. He would later win promotion to Sergeant and the Military Medal for bravery.

The London Combination, a competition that morphed into the Football Combination, was run over two campaigns in 1915-16 – the Primary competition and then a supplementary competition. Chelsea won both. The first started on the opening Saturday in September, with Chelsea beating Clapton Orient 3-1 thanks to a hat-trick by Buchan. The crowd was 12,000. Chelsea lost just twice in the 22 games of the Primary, both single goal defeats, to QPR and Millwall. They finished seven points clear of second-placed Millwall. Buchan scored 24 goals in 17 appearances. “His rare ability as a dribbler has delighted thousands of spectators,” said the Athletic News when summarising Chelsea’s season.

Charles Buchan in Sunderland colours

Charles Buchan in Sunderland colours

Chelsea’s team included Nils Middleboe, a Danish international who became a popular figure with the Stamford Bridge crowd. Middleboe, who was actually born in Sweden, played for KB Copenhagen and appeared in both the 1908 and 1912 Olympic football finals. He was ever-present in the Primary competition and barely missed a game in the Supplementary competition.

Chelsea finished top of the second campaign, just one point clear of West Ham. They lost three of their 14 games, but had the satisfaction of beating Arsenal 9-0 at Stamford Bridge in front of 26,000 people. Buchan scored four times against one of his future clubs. In that second competition, he netted 17 goals, but he was not top scorer – that honour fell to one-eyed centre-forward Bob Thomson, who grabbed 25, including seven against Luton Town in an 11-1 victory.

The Chelsea team was going its separate ways, though, responding to the call to arms. Tommy Logan, a tough centre half, was devastated when his wife died after just a few months of married life. He enlisted in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. Charlie Freeman, a veteran inside forward, joined the flying corp and moved to Curragh Camp. Goalkeeper Colin Hampton was a Bombardier in the Army, while forward Harold Brittan was Private Brittan of the motor transport section by the time the season ended. Others were involved in valuable government work – Jack Harrow, a loyal Chelsea man, was employed making explosives and Walter Bettridge worked in munitions. Another guest player was Cyclist L. Moores, a left winger from Manchester: “Very speedy but lacking resource.” Chelsea could also call on old favourites like Harold Halse, Harry Ford and Jimmy Croal.

Manager David Calderhead tried to temper excitement about Chelsea’s success. He told Athletic News that his team had “played up to” Buchan and made the most of their star forward. He also underlined the role football had played in wartime Britain: “The playing of the game had served a useful purpose in many ways – especially in affording entertainment to the soldiers.” But Calderhead admitted that Chelsea had played “extraordinarily well and for pure football, no team wearing our colours has ever acquitted themselves so well.” Chelsea would do it again during WW1 – they finished top in 1917-18. Then, they would have to wait until 1954-55 to end a season in first place!




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This match caught my eye whilst looking for something else.

On Sat 31st Jan 1920 in the F.A. Cup - 2nd Rd v Swindon Town at The Bridge

 A great attendance of 67,054.  Remember, we were just 15 years old as club at that time.   

Not bad eh. And we won 4 - 0

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