TEAM HISTORY - 1960s

The importance of young Jimmy Greaves' goals to Chelsea was clear for all to see when the season after he left, we finished a distant bottom in Division One. Ted Drake had paid for the decline with his job a couple of months into the relegation season.

Chelsea were crying out for another overhaul and elevated from the coaching ranks to oversee it was 33 year-old Tommy Docherty. The flourishing youth system instigated by Birrell and encouraged by Drake was ready to bear fruit. Docherty was brave enough to pick it.

As the 60s moved into full swing, he ruthlessly hacked out the deadwood and selected fresh-faced players with names like Peter Bonetti, Ron Harris, Barry Bridges, Bobby Tambling and Terry Venables.

Within those five would emerge Chelsea's record ever goalscorer, our record ever appearance maker and our longest serving and some would say, greatest goalkeeper. The average age of the side dropped down to just 21.

Promotion was soon won and a classy side started to produce the most consistent league and cup form seen at the Bridge.

Improved fitness and the youth of the players resulted in fast-paced football cheered on by an increasingly partisan crowd, particularly in an area of the southern terrace that had taken the name 'The Shed'.

The fans were treated to top five finishes and three consecutive FA Cup semi-finals. In 1965, a treble of trophies came close.

Leicester City were defeated 3-2 on aggregate in the League Cup Final, those days a two-legged affair. It was Chelsea's first knockout cup success.

Liverpool proved too strong in our first FA Cup semi-final for 13 years and the League Championship dream was killed-off late in the season by two defeats up north - the first at Liverpool, the second at Burnley after Docherty had sent home seven players who had broken curfew at the team's hotel.

Evenings of glamorous European football were becoming a feature of Stamford Bridge life too. In the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, Italian giants Roma and Milan were beaten before Barcelona proved too strong at Camp Nou.

A second FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park in two years followed but Wembley stayed just out of reach. Chelsea were strong favourites against relegation threatened Sheffield Wednesday in 1966, but on a rough pitch, the Yorkshire club were allowed a smooth ride to a 2-0 win.

That defeat hit Docherty hard and he chose to break up a squad yet to reach its peak.

The manager's relationship with his captain Venables had reached breaking point and he replaced the future England coach's clever passing with the dribbling ability of a young Scot named Charlie Cooke.

Cooke is one of the greatest entertainers to have graced the Stamford Bridge turf, his creative skills combining perfectly with Peter Osgood. Osgood had somehow evaded the attentions of professional clubs until the age of 17 but once at Chelsea he was the new prince, and would soon be crowned King of Stamford Bridge.

Unfortunately, Osgood suffered a broken leg in October 1966 but that didn't prevent a third successive semi-final at Villa Park. At the sixth time of asking, a Wembley FA Cup Final was reached.

It was the first-ever all-London affair - the Cockney Cup Final as it became known with Tottenham Hotspur the opposition that afternoon in 1967. The fans relished the prospect of a showpiece occasion but the day turned out to be a damp squib. The deserved 2-1 defeat was made none the easier to bear by the presence of Greaves and Venables in Spurs colours.

That was the last major occasion for Bobby Tambling in a Chelsea shirt although he stayed for another couple of seasons. The player who had taken the burden of goalscoring from Greaves found the net 202 times in 370 games - a Chelsea all-time record.



Time ran out for Docherty whose relationship with the board of directors had worsened considerably after long-serving chairman Joe Mears, nephew of Gus, died.

A replacement was found in Dave Sexton who had previously worked as coach under Docherty before taking up management himself with Leyton Orient.

The new man augmented the squad with big characters - defenders John Dempsey and David Webb plus brave striker Ian Hutchinson, bought for just £5,000 - half the price of Hughie Gallacher nearly 40 years earlier.

Peter Bonetti had developed into a goalkeeper of the highest standard. Ron Harris, Eddie McCreadie, Webb and Dempsey formed an uncompromising back-line.

With John Hollins and Charlie Cooke in midfield there was a mixture of endeavour and flair. Peter Houseman supplied regular crosses from the left to where Osgood's class and the battling qualities of Hutchinson awaited. Pulling the strings was an 18 year-old midfielder born within the sound of The Shed - Alan Hudson.

Chelsea were in fashionable step with the King's Road scene of the time and many celebrities spent their Saturday afternoons in the crowd