Second Division championship: 1988/89
In 1988/89 the Blues secured an immediate return to the top flight, winning the Second Division title by a 17-point margin from Manchester City.
Manager Bobby Campbell had made two significant signings ahead of the season, bringing in experienced duo Graham Roberts and Peter Nicholas, as well as appointing Ian Porterfield as his assistant, but the new campaign started in the worst possible fashion when a side missing the injured Kerry Dixon and Tony Dorigo were beaten 2-1 at home by Blackburn.
It took until seven matches in for our first victory to arrive, away at Leeds, the start of a run which saw us take 16 points from a possible 18.
A solid defence, marshalled by Roberts, provided the foundations from which our attacking players could make an impact further forward, and Dixon, Kevin Wilson and Gordon Durie were scoring regularly.
We put four past Oldham and five past Plymouth, while Durie scored five goals in a 7-0 away win at Walsall.
By February, the Blues and Manchester City had begun to pull away from the pack and when the two teams met at Maine Road on a Friday night in March, it was billed as a title decider.
Thousands of Chelsea fans made the journey north, and it was a trip to remember as we produced a marvellous team performance, racing into a 3-0 lead courtesy of goals from Dixon, Wilson and a brilliant individual effort from Dorigo. The home side did score twice towards the end of the game, but we held on for a victory which left us in a fantastic position.
Dixon then scored four in a 5-3 home win against Barnsley, a fortnight before our 27-game unbeaten run came to an end with a 2-0 defeat away at Leicester.
The reverse at Filbert Steet was a minor blip, however, and the following week we secured promotion – and the title – when John Bumstead scored the only goal of the game to beat Leeds at Stamford Bridge, sparking jubilant scenes.
On the final day of the season, a young Graeme Le Saux was given his debut as Kevin McAllister scored a brace in a 3-2 win at Portsmouth, ensuring we finished the campaign with 99 points, a new record for the Second Division.