SIXTIES PLAYERS SHARE MEMORIES OF NEIGHBOURS
The stadiums are only 1.4 miles apart making it London's most local derby, yet this season is only the 35th in which Chelsea and Fulham have been in the same division.
The current 13 seasons is the longest run together but the 1960s was another period when the two clubs met regularly, which meant memories of SW6 contests past flowed freely at the 1963 Reunion Dinner held at Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening.
The event, which was also attended by Chelsea fans and club representatives, marked the 50th anniversary of a young Chelsea side winning promotion under the management of Tommy Docherty, the start of a cherished period in the club's history.
Docherty, plus many of the players from that decade including Bobby Tambling, Terry Venables, Ken Shellito, Ron Harris, Barry Bridges, Frank Blunstone, John Mortimore, Graham Moore, Bert Murray, George Graham and John Hollins were all present.
Blunstone (pictured below), who played 347 games for Chelsea between 1953 and 1964 before becoming a coach here, has good cause to recall encounters with Fulham.
'They were always great games to play and I enjoyed them because I had so many friends in the Fulham team - Johnny Haynes, Tosh Chamberlain, Jimmy Hill.
'I was in digs in Fulham and when Chelsea weren't playing and Fulham were playing midweek, I used to go over and watch them play. They used to give me a seat on the touchline,they always looked after me, so we got to know Fulham very well and it was always a ding-dong game.'
Blunstone's friend Haynes is without doubt a Fulham all-time great with the old main stand at Craven Cottage now carrying his name.
'He was a very good player and I was in the England team and the young England team with him, and we are like twins,' reveals Blunstone.
'He was born on the 17 October 1934 and I was born the same day, so we used to send birthday cards to each other.
'So I got on well with the Fulham lads but it was very competitive on the pitch. I remember playing them one day and Bobby Tambling had a bit of aggravation with Alan Mullery and the game stopped and the referee went over there.
'I was standing on the side and this Fulham player got me round the neck and was making out he was punching me, and it was Tosh Chamberlain who was a big friend of mine because we were in the army together doing national service.
'The referee came over and he was going to book us, and I had to tell him to get away because he didn't realise we were having a bit of fun.
'The atmosphere between the Chelsea and Fulham fans in those days was very friendly because a lot of them supported Fulham one week and Chelsea the next. But also I had a newsagents shop on Wandsworth Bridge Road and we did a good trade if Chelsea lost because all the Fulham supporters came in and bought their wives boxes of chocolates or goodness knows what else, and if Fulham lost all the Chelsea supporters came in.'
Barry Bridges, who scored three of the 93 goals he netted for Chelsea against Fulham, also has a strong memory of Blunstone's friend Chamberlain, who was one of the characters of a very different era, reputed to have stopped playing mid-game to borrow a supporter's cigarette.
'On Monday afternoons, Fulham's reserve team used to play so we would train with Chelsea in the morning and five or six of us would then go down to Fulham and there would be about 10 people there watching in total. Five of us and about five others, and we had such fun.
'One game I remember Tosh Chamberlain was playing. He was normally in the first team but he had been dropped so now he was playing in the reserves, and he didn't want to be there, he was fed up and there was one guy standing on the terraces on the far side and every time Tosh got the ball, this guy gave him stick.
'Suddenly in the second half, Tosh went over the fence, up the terrace and laid the guy out completely. Then he came back over the fence and continued playing!'
Much as Chelsea became a club associated with show business due to our location and the people attracted, included the glamorous guests Richard, now Lord Attenborough, brought to games, Bridges (pictured below) reports Fulham had a similar showbiz air about them through comedian Tommy Trinder, who was their chairman at the time and hosted famous faces at the Cottage.
'The grounds were close but to me at the time, Fulham were always the poor relation to Chelsea but even if they were bottom of the league it was tough against them, like all London derbies.
'I think in this Saturday's game they will make it tough as well but I have good memories of playing Fulham.
'I have always felt, even to this day, whatever else is going on in the season, Fulham would work so hard to get a result against Chelsea.'
Thursday evening's Reunion Dinner raised over £4000 for the Past Players' Trust and the Chelsea Foundation. Tambling, Shellito, Harris, Venables and Docherty took part in question and answer sessions and chairman Bruce Buck spoke to the audience. A Beatles tribute band provided entertainment.
Tambling received a special presentation from supporters of one of his own boots encased in gold and mounted, to mark the 47 years he held the club's goalscoring record.