After just five seasons London’s newest club was already its biggest, taking giant steps and making waves that would ripple down the decades. Sadly, the club’s founder would witness little of his dream take shape. Gus Mears died of kidney failure on 4 February 1912. (His freehold of the land would eventually pass to brother Joe.)
In 1912/13 the Pensioners again registered the highest average home attendance in Britain with 32,100 and the following season set a new UK record of 37,900. At the close of the decade Chelsea broke 40,000 for the first time in Britain by averaging 42,860.
— Manager: 1907-33
The revenue generated bolstered the club’s ‘moneybags’ reputation but was ploughed back into big names who would draw the crowds such as legendary England centre-forward Vivian Woodward and, in 1913, the ‘Great Dane,’ midfielder Nils Middelboe, the Football League’s first overseas st
It barely affected popularity that two seasons were spent on the second tier. However, in splashing cash on players to stave off relegation in spring 1910 Chelsea had inadvertently changed history. The drop still happened, but new rules were introduced to end recruitment late in the season: the transfer deadline.
— Player: 1913-22
— Player: 1909-15
— Player: 1911-26
In 1915, having reached our first FA Cup final to the backdrop of war, the club was as scandalised as the rest of the game to hear that Manchester United and Liverpool players had fixed a league game so that the Red Devils remained in the top flight at Chelsea’s expense. Thankfully this was swiftly reversed.
April 1911 brought neighbours Fulham to the Bridge for a 2-0 defeat and on 26 April 1919 the same opponents were beaten 3-0 at Highbury as Chelsea lifted the London Victory Cup – we remain the holders to this day.
Spirit Of The Age
The ‘war to end all wars’ brings the innocence and optimism of the Edwardian age to an abrupt close on 28 July 1914. World War One wreaks four years of horror and devastation on continental Europe, claiming the lives of 700,000 British men, with countless others scarred for life.
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