Trophy - 1955 League Title

Posted on: Thu 11 Jul 2002


Trophy Cabinet

LEAGUE TITLE - 1955



Winners - Chelsea FC


Chelsea’s first title win came in the 1954/55 season on the 50th anniversary of the formation of the club in 1905.

The seeds of the triumph were sown with the arrival as manager in 1952 of Ted Drake. A famous player in his day Drake was a strict disciplinarian and organised as a manager and revolutionised the club at all levels, not just on the pitch.

The season before he arrived Chelsea had finished 19th, one place away from relegation. The following season, 1952/53, there appeared little improvement on the surface as once again the team narrowly avoided relegation finishing 19th. However behind the scenes big changes were being made to how the club was run, how training operated and generally making the club a much more professional outfit.

As well as an organiser and strong personality Drake had an eye for a player. Several new unheralded players were brought in for small transfer fees from the lower leagues and the following season 1953/54 Chelsea finished a much improved 8th and were ready for a serious assault on the title.

The 1954/55 season started with a steady away 1-1 draw at Leicester followed by a 1-0 home win over Burnley. As the season progressed notable games were an incredible 5 — 6 home defeat to Manchester United and a thrilling 4-3 away win over title rivals Wolves. But by November it seemed the Blues were out of the race down in 12th spot. However a strong second half of the season saw them claw their way up the league and further high scoring wins 5-2 away at Bolton and 4-3 at home to Newcastle helped push Chelsea into prime position as the season entered March.

The crunch game came on the 9th April at home to their nearest challengers, Wolves. A penalty winner from Peter Sillett gave Chelsea a crucial 1-0 win in front of over 75,000 fans which while not mathematically giving the club their first title, effectively made it all but certain. A 0-0 draw away to Portsmouth meant a win in their 2nd last game against Sheffield Wednesday would win the title. Chelsea ran out 3-0 victors and ended the 50 year wait on 23rd April 1955.

Captain and star centre forward Roy Bentley was one of many heroes along with the likes of Frank Blunstone, Stan Wicks, Peter Sillett, Chic Thompson, Eric Parsons and Stan Willemse.

Chelsea finished with a record low points total to win the title but no one cared :
P42 W20 D12 L10 52pts

They scored 81 goals, conceded 57 and finished four points clear of Wolves.

By today’s standards the celebrations were quite low key, with no trophy presented and speeches made by Ted Drake and Roy Bentley to the crowd on the pitch.  Few people watching then would have guessed that it would take Chelsea another 50 years to win the title again!

 


 

The 1955 Squad

 

Bill Robertson

Goal Keeper
1946-1960

Appearances 26

Bill was one of 2 goalkeepers in the 54-55 season. The Scotsman, joined Chelsea after the war and made his debut 5 years later. His introduction to the side coincided with four wins, helping Chelsea secure safety and helped them on their way to winning the league.

Charlie Thompson

Goal Keeper
1952-1957

Appearances 16

Ted Drake didn’t waste any time in bringing ‘Chic’ to Chelsea from Clyde in 1952. He took over from Bill half way through the season, making a fine save, tipping a Johnny Hancock effort onto the post at the important Wolves game. His goal keeping skills that season for Chelsea were eminently reliable.

Stan Willemse

Left Back
1949-1956

Appearances 36
Goals 1

Stan was a great left back for Chelsea and joined from Brighton. He was a no nonsense, hard tackling, fierce player. Even the likes of Stanley Matthews used to tremble when he played against him. Peter Sillet joined Stan and became the regular full back formation and proved to be a tough combination to beat!

Stan Wicks

Centre Half
1954-1956

Appearances 21
Goals 1

Stan was the 1955 centre half version of John Terry. At 6 ft 2.5 and 13 stones 3 pounds he was a big strong player. He started at Reading with the Chelsea Manager Ted Drake. As soon as Ted got to Chelsea he signed Stan by going his house in the early hours of the morning before any other club had the chance to step in! Stan became the regular centre half in the Chelsea team of 1955 along with a centre backline of Amstrong and Saunders.

Peter Sillett

Right Back
1953-1962

Appearances 21
Goals 6

Peter played a very important role as right back. He was a young aspiring player who was selected for the England team. His speciality was long range shots, free kicks and penalties. Long serving Chelsea supporters won’t need to be reminded that two of his penalties were vital in the run up to the championship, one at Wolves and the other at Sheffield Wednesday.

Derek Saunders

Left Half
1953-1959

Appearances 42
Goals 1

Derek played every match in the championship side of 1955 and was a phenomenal left half. Strong in the tackle and a former amateur for Walthamstow Avenue. When he turned professional he became one of the leading wing halves in the football league and certainly became a great leader in the team of ‘55.

Les Stubbs

Inside Left
1952-1958

Appearances 27
Goals 5


Les played the inside left position in the side of 1955. He always proved himself to be an important figure in the team, especially at the Wolves game. The final score was Wolves 3, Chelsea 4, with Les having scored the most significant goal of that game. He was aggressive, direct and knew where the goal was, he really earned his 1955 championship medal.

Frank Blunstone

Outside Left
1953-1964

Appearances 23
Goals 3

Frank played a total of 100 games in the 1954-55 season. He played for the Army mid-week before coming back to Chelsea for the weekend fixture! He was nippy, quick and direct - an outside left in the old mould. Time and again he used to take on the full back, get on the outside to get the crosses into the box, even getting the odd goal himself!

Johnny McNichol

Inside Right
1952-1958

Appearances 40
Goals 14

Johnny was an intelligent, skilful ball playing inside right who scored 14 goals in the season. 14 goals speak for themselves because inside forwards then used to drop back as midfield players would now. He operated just to the right of the centre forwards and just to the left of Eric Parsons. Anybody who saw him play could see he was a clever, astute and most of all a clinical finisher.

Roy Bentley

Centre Forward
1948-1956

Appearances 41
Goals 21
Bentley moved from Newcastle to Chelsea in 1948 in a £11,000 deal. It was money well spent. He was the leading scorer at the club for eight successive seasons, including the 1955 campaign. An England player and centre forward who was a prolific marksman.

Jim Lewis

Left Wing
1952-1958

Appearances 17
Goals 6

An amateur who came to the club from Walthamstow Avenue to play for Chelsea but continued working as a travelling salesman selling thermos flasks. As a winger he was a major goal threat and contributed 6 goals in the 54-55 season.

Seamus O’Connell

Inside Forward
1954-1956

Appearances 17
Goals 12

A famous amateur, who in a pre curser to today’s loan system, came to Chelsea from his club Bishop Auckland in the 1954-55 season and played a handful of games for the club. He made the most remarkable of debuts in the championship season. He scored a hat-trick against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge but still ended up on the losing side, going down 6-5.

Eric Parsons

Outside Right
1950-1956

Appearances 42
Goals 11

Ever present in the Chelsea team of 55, playing every game of the campaign. Nicknamed the rabbit as he scuttled around all over the park, on the wing, in defence and cutting infield. Most of all he went down the right hand side beating the full back and providing the crosses for the likes of Roy Bentley in the middle. He scored 2 of the 3 goals on the day that Chelsea clinched the league.

Ken Armstrong

Right Half
1946-1957

Appearance 39
Goals 1

A New Zealander who played over 300 league games even before the 54-55 season. Capped by England around the time that Chelsea won the title. Ken was as clever and industrious for England as right half as he was for Chelsea throughout their championship season.


Slideshow

View a slideshow of some photographs of the 1954/55 title winning season