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Club history

The Birth of a Club

Date formed
10 March 1905
The Rising Sun Pub, Fulham Road

The first Chelsea squad in 1905

John Tait Robertson (1905-06)
William Lewis (1906-07)
David Calderhead (1907-33)
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On the evening of 10 March 1905 in an upstairs room at the Rising Sun pub, Chelsea FC was formed. Among the founding directors were millionaire owner Henry Augustus ‘Gus’ Mears, his brother Joseph, their brother-in-law Henry Boyer, publican Alfred Janes and his nephew Edwin, who ran the Rising Sun.

The club, the brainchild of another founder, Frederick Parker, would be started from scratch to fill Gus Mears’s ambitious stadium, being built across the road at Stamford Bridge by the famous architect Archibald Leitch. Scotland international Jacky Robertson was engaged as the fledgling club’s player-manager. In collaboration with Parker, who also engineered Chelsea’s admission to Football League Division Two, Robertson constructed a squad including larger-than-life Willie Foulke: the club hired football’s first ball-boys to emphasise the 23-stone goalkeeper's presence.

The huge new arena debuted with a 4-0 friendly win against Liverpool in September 1905, supported by London’s first 4-page matchday football programme, which cleverly fed the metropolis’s growing hunger for the professional game. Success came spectacularly fast: the table-top clash with Manchester United on Good Friday 1906 attracted a staggering attendance of 67,000. Promotion to the First Division was achieved in 1907 and over the ensuing campaign the newly nicknamed ‘Pensioners’ attracted the biggest crowds ever known in Britain. The most popular entertainer of the day, George Robey, even signed up as a player.

For the first few seasons the players wore Eton Blue, the horse racing colours of club President Lord Cadogan, a much lighter hue than the shirts of today. Other aspects are more enduring: the first top-flight London derby, a 2-1 Chelsea win against Arsenal, was contested on 9 November 1907. A similar outcome settled the first ever encounter with Tottenham Hotspur on 18 December 1909.

And, of course, Chelsea have never moved away from the famous stadium on Fulham Road. New star names started to establish themselves at the Bridge, including centre-forward George Hilsdon, the first Pensioner to hit a century of goals (immortalised in a weathervane likeness on top of the current East Stand).

In just a few short years the personality of Chelsea FC was being established: wealthy, ambitious, fashionable and with immense drawing power.


Spirit Of The Age

The horse and carriage is on the way out as a mode of transport after the 1903 Motor Car Act, which introduced vehicle registration and penalties for reckless driving, while raising the speed limit from 14 miles per hour to a top hat-dislodging 20 mph.

Key Players

First Game
Stockport 1 Chelsea 0

The 1905 squad line up between the posts

William Foulke (1905-06)
George Hilsdon (1906-12)
Jimmy Windridge (1905-11)
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Key Matches : 1905-1909



1900s Matchday Programme Cover


Players of the 1900s

Player Years Total Apps Total Goals
BETTRIDGE, Walter1909-222540
BIRNIE, Ted1906-101083
BRADSHAW, James1909-1063
BRAWN, Billy1907-119911
BREBNER, Ronald1906 & 1912-13190
BRIDGEMAN, Billy1906-1915922
BUSH, Robert1906-0740
BYRNE, Michael1905-0650
CALDERHEAD, David Jnr1907-14432
CAMERON, Jock1907-131940
CARTWRIGHT, William1908-13460
COPELAND, David1905-07269
CRAIGIE, James1905-0720
DOLBY, Hugh1909-1220
DONAGHY, Charles1905-0731
DOUGLAS, Angus1908-1310310
DOWNING, Sam1909-1414410
FAIRGRAY, Norman1907-14845
FLETCHER, James1905-0610
FOULKE, Willie1905-06350
FREEMAN, Charlie1907-2010522
FROST, James1906-07234
GOODWIN, Joe1905-0620
HARDING, Augustus1906-1350
HARRIS, Charles1905-0920
HENDERSON, George1905-09641
HILSDON, George1906-12164108
HOLDEN, Arthur1908-10201
HORN, George1909-1320
HUMPHREYS, Percy1908-094613
JONES, Evan1909-11214
KENNEDY, George1908-09120
KEY, George1905-09562
KIRWAN, Jack1905-087616
LYON, Frank1907-0860
MACKIE, Bob1905-07481
MAIR, Tommy1909-1091
McCARTNEY, David1906-0730
McDERMOTT, Tom1905-063212
McEWAN, Bob1905-06200
McEWAN, Marshall1909-11353
McROBERTS, Bob1905-0910611
MILLER, Tommy1905-091200
MORAN, Martin1905-08667
O’HARA, Francis1905-0633
ORMISTON, Alec1909-191021
PEARSON, Frank1905-063018
PORTER, William1905-0720
PROUDFOOT, Peter1906-07120
REILLY, Edward1908-1010
ROBERTSON, James1905-073122
ROBERTSON, John Tait1905-06397
ROBINSON, Arthur1908-1030
ROUSE, Fred1907-094211
SAUNDERS, James1909-1020
STARK, Jimmy1907-08322
TAYLOR, Fred1909-191714
TOOMER, Walter1905-0610
WALTON, Joe1906-11530
WARREN, Ben1908-121014
WATSON, James1905-06140
WHITEHOUSE, Ben1906-08132
WHITEHOUSE, Ben1906-08132
WHITING, Bob1906-08540
WHITING, Bob1906-08540
WHITLEY, Jack1907-141380
WHITTINGHAM, Bob1909-1912980
WILEMAN, Arthur1909-10145
WILLIAMS, Ernest1909-1081
WINDRIDGE, Jimmy1905-1115258
WOLFF, Frank1905-0610
WOODWARD, Vivian1909-1511634