History

The 1920s

With English football restored as a national competition in 1919 Chelsea moved swiftly to bring the usual big names in – World War One had sadly ended the careers of many. Charismatic striker Jack Cock, slide-tackling Tommy Law, reliable keeper Sam Molyneux and long-serving skipper Andy Wilson would be the cigarette card icons of the new era. ‘There is plenty of money down Stamford Bridge way,’ noted the press, as usual.

One explanation for the wealth was the attendances at Stamford Bridge, now averaging around 40,000. Chelsea were again the country’s best supported club in 1919/20, 1921/22, 1923/24 and 1925/26 – the latter, remarkably, as a Second Division team. Hundreds followed the team to every away game on ‘special’ trains too.

FORMER MANAGERS

David Calderhead

photo of Manager: 1907-33 Manager: 1907-33

A dream of Gus Mears and Fred Parker was realised when Stamford Bridge replaced Crystal Palace as the venue for the FA Cup final in 1920, 1921 and 1922. Unfortunately, once the Empire Stadium was built at Wembley in 1923 the final switched there. Soon the London Athletics Club would look for pastures new after half a century on the Fulham Road as stadium owner Joe Mears looked for more lucrative ventures for the running track. Dirt-track racing – later known as speedway – proved hugely popular until abruptly replaced by greyhound racing.

KEY PLAYERS

Jack Cock

photo of Player: 1919-23 Player: 1919-23

Tommy Law

photo of Player: 1926-1938 Player: 1926-1938

Andy Wilson

photo of Player: 1923-1931 Player: 1923-1931

Chelsea continued to innovate on the field. Numbered team shirts was a pet project of chairman Claude Kirby and the Pensioners became first to wear them in England in 1928. The following summer, on a pioneering pre-World Cup tour of South America, the Londoners were nicknamed ‘los numerados’ when they wore numbers in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, and no professional English team had ever played in Sao Paulo before. That three-month eye-opening jaunt prompted a fine league campaign that successfully brought an end to our longest spell in the second tier in 1930.

Spirit Of The Age
Post-war economic depression, record unemployment and mass strikes make Britain a dreary island. In response a string of imported dance cheers up London, from the Charleston and the jitterbug to the tango.

KEY MATCHES

CORINTHIANS 4 CHELSEA 4

This remarkable topsy-turvy match – the first visit to São Paulo by a professional English team – was the penultimate of a gruelling but inspiring three-month, 16-game tour of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil in summer 1929. READ MORE>>

BURY 1 CHELSEA 0

Chelsea’s support was at fever pitch before this vital fixture. David Calderhead’s side needed just a point to secure promotion to the top flight; a win, should Division Two leaders Blackpool fail at Nottingham Forest, would make the west Londoners champions. READ MORE>>

CHELSEA 6 MANCHESTER UNITED 2

Chelsea’s second season opened with the visit of Glossop on a baking hot late summer day on the Fulham Road. The Derbyshire side wilted in the heat but all the talk afterwards was of the flowering of a rare talent: ‘Gatling Gun’ George Hilsdon. READ OVER>>

1920s Matchday Programme Cover

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