TEAM HISTORY - 1905-29


The first competitive game was on September 2nd 1905, a 1-0 defeat away at Stockport. Chelsea didn't take long to prove worthy of the League's faith. The crowds flocked to Stamford Bridge with 67,000 recorded against Manchester United on Good Friday of that first season. At the end of the second season, we were promoted to Division One.

Those early days saw Stamford Bridge populated by spectators rather than passionate fans, attracted by what was to become a Chelsea tradition for signing star names.

Chelsea's first ever goalkeeper cut one of the most distinctive figures in the game. An England international weighing over 22 stone, Willie 'Fatty' Foulke was an immense man with a deep-loathing for both centre-forwards and referees.

In the second year came George Hilsdon, nicknamed 'Gatling Gun' after a famous early design of machine gun. He was the first in a long-line of centre-forwards to be worshipped by the Stamford Bridge crowd. The 108 goals Hilsdon scored in six seasons led to a weather vane being modelled on him, still a feature of the stadium today.

His partner in attack was Jimmy Windridge, scorer of the first Chelsea hat-trick in the club's opening home game - a 5-1 defeat of Hull City.

Nils Middelboe, known as 'The Great Dane' was our first foreign player and was immensely popular during eight years at the club.

Vivian Woodward was the greatest amateur centre-forward of his day and together with Hilsdon and Windridge, gave Chelsea three England international attackers. If that wasn't enough strike power, there was Bob Whittingham, scorer of 80 goals in just 129 appearances.

With such firepower, gates of 50,000 were not unheard of in that pre-World War I decade although the results were not always to the crowd's liking.


One relegation back to Division Two was suffered in that time, followed quickly by promotion but eighth place in Division One was the highest in our first ten years of existence.

The First World War cast a dark shadow over football but during the opening months of the conflict, Chelsea marked our first decade by reaching our first FA Cup Final.

The 1915 Final was held in Manchester at Old Trafford - virtually impossible for Chelsea fans to reach under the circumstances. The opposition, Sheffield United, were more local and the considerable number of military uniforms visible amongst the largely Yorkshire crowd led to the game being dubbed 'The Khaki Final'. With the odds stacked against us, Chelsea lost 3-0.


The FA Cup would provide the major moments for both Chelsea and Stamford Bridge in the 1920s.

Although he had passed away in 1912, Mears' original vision for his stadium was realised when three FA Cup Finals were played there in the years immediately prior to the opening of Wembley Stadium in 1923.

Chelsea very nearly reached the 1920 occasion, losing 3-1 to Aston Villa at the semi-final stage.

Centre-forward that day was Jack Cock, the Chelsea glamour boy of that era. Decorated during the war, as well as stylish goalscoring, he did a neat line in singing on stage of an evening.

Although the 1920s began with the highest league placing up to that point, third place in Division One behind West Brom and derby, the decade proved to be possibly the least remarkable in the club's history.

Relegation was suffered in 1924 with return to the top flight only coming in at the end of the 1929-30 season.

A sign of unexceptional times was that two of the favourite performers of the era were both left-backs, England international Jack Harrow giving way to Scottish international Tommy Law midway through the decade after 333 games.