Ken Armstrong is fondly remembered as a defensive midfielder who made more than 400 appearances for Chelsea – 39 of them in the title-winning team – after joining from the army. Yet his debut season in 1947/48 saw him in a variety of positions, including centre-forward, where in one sequence he notched up six goals in five matches.
It was at the heart of the action where his energy and orchestration of play were most effective, although those on the receiving end in the Stamford Bridge card school might say otherwise. He claimed to have once bought a car with his winnings.
Ken’s contribution to the 1954/55 success was crucial, his consistency and reliability making him an instant pick. On 29 December 1956 at home to Leeds he played his 352nd game for Chelsea, surpassing George Smith’s club appearance record set almost 25 years earlier.
For the Yorkshireman it was a ‘proud moment to break this record for so fine a club as Chelsea. If I was just coming into the game Chelsea would still be the club for me.’
His manager Ted Drake was equally effusive: ’No club ever had better value for a £10 signing-on fee. I hope Ken will go on for a long time.’
In fact Ken emigrated in summer 1957 to New Zealand, and won 15 caps for his adopted country up to 1971. When he died in 1984 his ashes were repatriated and scattered at Stamford Bridge.