ASK STATMAN 35
With a very rare break this season from Chelsea matches upon us, club statistician Paul Dutton takes time to catch up on some of the questions sent in to his statistical surgery…
I'm going to begin this time with a game long-forgotten by most I would imagine, not that many fans knew it was taking place at the time anyway!
Paul Georgiou was one of the very few to attend a Chelsea v Stoke City friendly on a cold week night at Stamford Bridge and recalls a crowd of approximately 2,000. He also remembers there was a one-page programme produced and thinks at the time it was noted as our lowest crowd for a first-team match at the Bridge.
Paul's memories are pretty accurate because it was a hastily arranged friendly on the Friday night in January 1980 before what would have been FA Cup fourth-round weekend. Chelsea had already been knocked out by then lowly Wigan in the third round and our league game at Birmingham the previous weekend had been called off due to pitch conditions.
This being the years before the internet, rolling sports news channels etc, it was much harder to get the message out that the game was taking place and we lost to Stoke in front of a 2,009 crowd. This was declared the smallest for a first-team fixture at the time, and there hasn't been a lower one since.
Below is the one-page programme Paul refers to:
For the record, the lowest crowd at Stamford Bridge for a competitive match was 3,000, for a Second Division game against Lincoln in February 1906.
Alan Watson asks for our record against Scottish teams in any competition, including friendlies, because he can recall reading about a match against Dundee United over in America in the early 1990s.
Chelsea have only played one competitive tie against a team from north of the border and that was a meeting with Greenock Morton in 1968/69 in the first round of the Inter Cites Fairs Cup. We won 5-0 at home and 4-3 away.
I can't give a precise list of all friendlies because early records on those can be sketchy but looking from the beginning of the1980s, the matches were as follows:
There was a pre-season tour in 1980 during which we beat Hearts 1-0, lost to Raith Rovers 3-2 and drew 0-0 with Dundee United.
One of our most well-known friendlies was when Rangers travelled to Stamford Bridge at short notice to play a game to raise money for victims of the Bradford fire disaster. That was in May 1985 and Chelsea won 3-2 (pictured below).
We then played Rangers away in 1986. Having been knocked out of the FA Cup the match was fitted in mid-season and the scores were reversed with the home side winning 3-2.
The Dundee United match Alan remembers was played in Vancouver rather than the US, and was in 1992. We won 3-0.
In more recent times we played Celtic in Seattle during a pre-season tour in 2004 and won 4-2, and then played Celtic at Stamford Bridge in pre-season 2006 - a 1-1 draw.
The two most recent meetings with a club from Scotland were both away against Rangers - a 0-2 defeat in 2007 and a 3-1 win in 2011.
There has been plenty of reaction to a topic raised in the last Ask Statman - that of outfield players who had to go in goal during a game due to the loss of our keeper. I listed the two occasions in the Premier League era when that happened, and also the four most recent occasions before 1992 when there were no substitute goalkeepers on the bench.
Tommy Langley was one of those I mentioned who took the gloves mid-match and a few people have gone further back to extend that list, with Martin Shiel adding that Langley went in goal at West Ham after John Phillips had been kicked in the head by Tommy Taylor. Paul Waller also recalls Langley taking over from Petar Borota who had sustained a head injury in a match against Norwich at Carrow Road.
One of our most famous emergency keepers - David Webb - receives a few mentions for the time he played a full game at Ipswich and kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 win, a story we have covered in an old Ask Statman and which is pictured at the top here.
James O'Donoghue has also found reference to a game when Webb replaced Bonetti when the keeper was injured against Coventry City on 18 December 1971.
I can fill in some details on that occasion. Bonetti suffered a badly bruised ankle after 30 minutes from a challenge by Coventry's Quintin Young. Webb went in goal with Peter Osgood opening the scoring after 48 minutes. Willie Carr equalised on 62 minutes and the final score was 1-1.
Tommy Langley is also one of the subjects in an email from Adrian Barton, specifically the former centre-forward's very early start to his Chelsea career.
Adrian writes: 'When did 'top drawer' Tommy Langley sign pro? I know he made his debut in November '74 but I believe he became a pro in '75, but I'm not sure what month.'
The answer to when Langley turned pro is March 1975. To this day he is the club's third youngest debutant at 16 years 274 days.
Adrian also asks about another Chelsea figure from that period, Ron Suart (pictured below right), the member of the backroom staff who took over for a short period when Dave Sexton left. He wants to know whether Suart was a 'caretaker manager' and what role he took when Eddie McCreadie (below left) was subsequently appointed as manager.
In October 1974 when Sexton was dismissed, Suart became interim manager. Then he became manager a few weeks later with McCreadie as coach. Then in April 1975 Suart was moved upstairs to general manager and McCreadie became first team manager.
I've had a request from Annette Eaton to trace Chelsea history for Kenneth Bedford who is her brother. Annette asks if I am able to find anything in a matchday programme showing him as part of the Chelsea youth team in 1968/69.
She writes that he broke his leg in two places in a friendly prior to signing and although the doctor said he would never play again, he did and was recommended to Reading by Ken Shellito. Unfortunately his pride was dented and he decided to give up on the game.
Unfortunately I have to report I haven't had any success.I've looked through all the programmes from that season and there is no reference to Kenneth in the youth team. Maybe he was schoolboy with Chelsea rather than a youth team player.
A few questions that lead to short answers now.
Olajide Oluwole David from Nigeria asks a general one on stats keeping - whether matches played and goals scored in pre-season games are counted in the totals for a player?
The answer is they don't. No friendly match stats count in these totals, only official games.
Eric Meyr asks how many of John Terry's overall club appearances have been as Chelsea captain.
Of his 567 Chelsea appearances - he has started 437 as captain. Ron Harris was skipper for 324 games with Dennis Wise captain on 298 occasions.
Mario Antoine, a regular emailer, wants me to clear up a discrepancy between the records in the Chelsea match programmes of the time and some other publications. The programmes shows that on 18 April 1999 at home to Leicester City, Gianfranco Zola and an own-goal were our scorers in a 2-2 draw. Other records have it down as Zola and Dan Petrescu.
It was a definite own-goal as a Petrescu shot hit the post before Leicester's Matt Elliott put the ball high into the net when trying to clear.
Mario also noted differences in attendance figures between other publications and the Chelsea programmes.
I believe the programmes are correct on attendances, especially compared with other sources for away European crowds when one figure that is reported early by an agency tends to be copied elsewhere. We obtain our figure from the home club and UEFA and it often differs from that agency number.
Another follow up to the last Ask Statman comes from Robert Stein.
Adam Robinson had noticed that Chelsea played twice on the same day on 18 November 1905 - a home league match against Burnley and an away FA Cup game and asked if they both kicked off at the same time and who managed the FA Cup team?
I found that the League game at the Bridge was a 2.30pm kick-off and the away Cup match v Crystal Palace was in the afternoon but asked if anyone else had the additional info.
Robert emailed to say he is pretty certain the match at Palace also kicked off at 2.30 as the match appears in the Burnley programme's listing of fixtures for the half-time scores to be announced at that game that same day.
He suggests all matches appear to have kicked off at 2.30pm in that period as it meant they ended at 4.15, early enough for there still to be light in those days before floodlights.
Thanks to Robert for that.
Also looking back to those first months of the club, Peter Wollaston is after details of Chelsea's post-season tour at the end of our first season, in May 1906, when he believes we played 10 games in Copenhagen, Prague, Budapest and Vienna. It was reported in the Handbook that George Hilsdon scored 19 goals during this tour.
I have no more details. Can anyone else help please?
Also helping out with an answer is Paul Durie. A question last time was about a John Hollins penalty in a 1-0 win against Spurs in the late 1960s. I couldn't find a game that fitted the description so suggested a League Cup semi-final first leg in December 1971 when we won 3-2 and Hollins scored the winner from the spot.
Paul reckons we should have been looking later - to a match on 12 October 1974 which was 1-0 to Chelsea thanks to a Hollins penalty. He watched from the old West Stand benches and remembers it well as it was his first Chelsea v Spurs match.
Alessandro Borri, a Chelsea fan in Italy, wants some very specific numbers regarding our youth team's success in a competition we used to take part in - the South East Counties League Cup.
Noting that Tottenham won the competition eight times and Arsenal six, Alessandro wants a list of the 11 times Chelsea did.
The years were: 1953, 1954, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1973, 1974, 1984 and 1987.
An email that is topical due to Frank Lampard's goal milestone at the weekend comes from Tony Chick who was at the Bridge the game Bobby Tambling scored his 200th Chelsea goal. Tony recalls the FA letting Bobby replace is normal shirt with one with 200 on the back for the remainder of the match, but cannot remember the date or who the opposition was.
I am interested to know if any other readers of Ask Statman remember the 200 shirt.
To the right here is the front cover from the programme for the next home game (which coincidentally was my first Chelsea game) which has a picture of his 200th goal being scored.
It was versus Coventry City the previous Monday - 10 March 1969 - in front of the lowest crowd of the season - 17,600.
Henrik from Hamburg, one of the people who wrote in about David Webb going in goal, also asks for info on his one visit to the Bridge - a Second Division game against Oldham Athletic in the mid-Seventies.
It was certainly an incident-packed match Henrik chose to attend - a 4-3 win in which Ray Wilkins scored and was involved in the other three Chelsea goals too.
It was on 16 October 1976 with Kenny Swain and Wilkins finding the net before two Oldham goals from Ian Robins and Alan Young made it 2-2. Steve Wicks and Steve Finnieston increased the lead before half-time, and David Shaw of Oldham scored one in the second half. Chelsea were top of the table after the game and would eventually finish in second, winning promotion.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Derek Webster, who is someone who frequently carries out very useful research into Chelsea stats.
Early this season we reported that following his penalty save against Nordsjaelland in the Champions League, Petr Cech had drawn level with two former Chelsea keepers, Bill G Robertson and Reg Matthews, with eight spot-kicks saved for the club.
Derek has since been in touch as he has uncovered a previously unrecorded penalty saved by Matthews, who signed for Chelsea 1956 and played for five seasons until the emergence of Peter Bonetti.
So Chelsea's all-time penalty saving list is now:
Reg Matthews 9
Petr Cech 8
WG Robertson 8
Peter Bonetti 7
Harry Medhurst 7
Vic Woodley 7
Carlo Cudicini 6
I am going to finish this time with a challenge, based on an email from Tony Day.
He writes that the first time he watched Chelsea was versus Arsenal on 27 August 1955 at Highbury with the score 1-1.
Seamus O'Connell, who sadly died last month, scored the Chelsea goal that day and Tony wonders how many Chelsea supporters saw the team play live earlier than that.
Recently we had a question from Frank P. Gough about a match against Arsenal he attended which I identified as taking place in October 1946.
So the challenge is this - can we find the reader of Ask Statman who saw Chelsea play in the flesh the longest time ago.
Anyone who wishes to email in on that subject, any other subject mentioned or with any new questions, please do so to firstname.lastname@example.org. Apologies if I have not dealt with your question this time.