Colin Pates was a calm, composed central defender who came through the youth ranks at Chelsea to play a total of 346 games at a time when the club was going through some of its toughest times. He made his first-team debut as an 18-year-old in a remarkable 7-3 win at Orient and was a regular within a year.
Pates was one of the few players to play with any credit as the team battled against relegation to the Third Division in 1982/83 and he survived the cull that followed our escape. Indeed, he was made team captain for the new season despite still being only 22, and there being several experienced new arrivals during the summer.
He responded to the challenge brilliantly, moulding together the different groups within the dressing room, while at the same time maintaining an exceptionally high level of personal performance.
Pates was just as impressive as the team established itself in the First Division. Unfortunately, but probably not coincidentally, his one season to be severely upset by injury saw us relegated back to the Second Division. He started the campaign in fine form though and it was a major surprise when he was sold to Charlton Athletic for £430,000 ten games into the new campaign.