ANNUAL LUNCH BREAKS CHARITY RECORD

Posted on: Sat 30 Nov 2013

Jose Mourinho and Ashley Cole were the surprise special guests at the Annual Lunch at Stamford Bridge on Friday afternoon, fresh from training at Cobham ahead of this weekend's game.

The Lunch is in its 18th year and having made the journey across west London to greet the fans and former players who filled the Great Hall in the West Stand, our manager and left-back were given a tremendous reception when they walked on stage.

Answering questions from host Jonny Gould, Mourinho told the audience: 'When I left I never felt my relationship with this club would be over at that time, but independent of that, I was living every moment of this club as if I was here.

'So I was sad when you were sad and I was happy when you were happy. I was jumping when you were jumping and I almost played the Champions League final against Chelsea, because Inter lost that semi-final on penalties against Bayern, so even that was destiny because I didn't play that final against Chelsea.'

Cole, when it was his turn to sum up his Chelsea career so far, said: 'Ever since I joined, the fans have been amazing. It probably took a year before they sung my name but they and the staff and the players and the management made me very welcome, and I have had seven great years here.'

As well as a chance for friends and former colleagues to gather, the Lunch is also a fundraiser for the Past Players' Trust and the Chelsea Foundation, and having opened proceedings with a speech, Chairman Bruce Buck accepted a cheque for £2,250 pounds from Steve Frankham, the Chelsea Pitch Owners Chairman.

It represented money raised in the past 12 months from sales of a special book collecting together all the match programmes from the original championship season - 1954/55. Over £40,000 has been raised by the limited edition since it was published in 2008, and a few copies remain to be sold.

The 1955 team was represented at the lunch by their captain Roy Bentley, Frank Blunstone and Peter Brabrook, and over 30 former Blues were present, from our oldest surviving player, John Paton, through 1960s and 1970s legends such as Bobby Tambling, Charlie Cooke (who drew the raffle) and John Hollins, to 1997 FA Cup winner Frank Sinclair.

Singer of the enduring song Blue Day from that memorable Wembley occasion provided the main entertainment at the Lunch - Madness front man and legend amongst Chelsea fans, Suggs, performing anecdote-laden versions of some of his band's favourites, including Baggy Trousers, My Girl and It Must Be Love.

Annual Lunch


John Mortimore, who played 279 games for Chelsea in the 1950s and 1960s is a regular at the event.

'I enjoy it very much and it is great to see my pals here,' he said. 'Some of us have aged more than others but it is a wonderful gesture, there really is something special about Chelsea Football Club in that respect. You are invited to these functions despite having been here donkey's years ago.'

'It is great to see Roy Bentley here,' added John Sillett, who made over 100 appearances as a team-mate of Mortimore. 'Roy was great with a young player like me when I was coming through, although with me a full-back, he told me exactly where he wanted the ball played! I enjoy this lunch enormously.' An interview with Southampton-born Sillett is in the matchday programme for Sunday's game.

The success of the event socially, with many a photo taken and autograph given, was matched by the money generated for the Foundation and Past Players' Trust.

The live auction with Gould in his traditional role as high-octane auctioneer, raised £61,000, with £20,000 the highest winning bid, paid for a VIP trip to a European away game with the squad.

Combined with other money raised on the day, the total generated by the 2013 Annual Lunch was £80,000, double the previous best.