Division Two - 27 April 1912
Forty thousand supporters yelled themselves hoarse throughout a match overwhelmed by its wider importance: Chelsea needed a win to guarantee promotion by goal average at the expense of Burnley.
Amid the mistakes and faltering, the quality of Vivian Woodward’s forward play and Fred Taylor’s energy stood out. Yet the hero of the hour was to be inside-left Charlie Freeman. On the half-hour mark Bob Whittingham laid a glorious pass across the Bradford goal area to him and, with the goalkeeper rushing out, Freeman slotted into the net from close range.
‘Such a scene of excitement that followed the scoring of this goal one could scarcely credit possible at a football match,’ marvelled the Daily Express. ‘Men shook hands with strangers, hats and sticks were hurled into the air, while the Chelsea players swarmed round Freeman and congratulated him in a manner worthy of the homecoming of a conquering warrior.’
Scenes at the Bridge at the final whistle were also unprecedented. Thousands dashed from the terracing to the East Stand and called for the players, who made their bow, one by one, over the course of half an hour.
Burnley lost anyway, but Freeman’s finish ensured London would have a third representative in the top flight for 1912/13.