Inside-left Jimmy Windridge played in Chelsea’s first ever league match in 1905 and outlasted all his teammates, remaining a superb servant over six seasons at Stamford Bridge.
He was also one of the first men to play for England while at Chelsea.
During his Stamford Bridge years he was renowned as a great technician, a tight dribbler of the ball with good distribution and a very good shot on him. He was also a county-standard cricketer, playing for Warwickshire during the summer months when, in those days, football wages were lowered.
Jimmy was actually among the very first players signed when the club was applying for election into the Second Division of the Football League. Frederick Parker, a fantastic sporting administrator and godfather of the club, recalled in a later letter:
‘April 26. First Chelsea players signed on: McRoberts centre-forward later centre-half, transfer fee (subject to Chelsea being elected) £100. Also James Robertson, inside right or left, fee, £50. Both players from Small Heath, now Birmingham F.C. April 27. James Windridge signed from Small Heath, transfer-fee (conditional) £190.’
The second ever Chelsea FC Chronicle was glowing in its praise of the forward, who scored in the 4-0 friendly win over Liverpool on Monday 4 September 1905: ‘Windridge’s effort was one which would have beaten any goalkeeper living. In fact, one enthusiastic follower of football declared it to be the “finest goal he had ever seen scored”.’
Jimmy soon ‘did the “hat-trick”’ against Hull and continued to fire in goals alongside prolific George Hilsdon during Chelsea’s second season, 1906/07, which ended in promotion. On 18 December 1909 his goal helped the Pensioners win the first ever ‘derby’ with London rivals Tottenham 2-1.
Although statistically a mostly spent force from 1909 onward, Jimmy stayed with Chelsea until November 1911, when he moved to Middlesbrough. His final figures were: 152 appearances, 58 goals.