Vic Woodley

One of the greatest goalkeepers in Chelsea history only took up the position between the posts in an emergency after leaving school.

His village team in Buckinghamshire urgently needed a custodian and Vic stepped in to save the day – the first of countless saves he would make throughout an outstanding career.

He joined the Chelsea reserve staff from Windsor and Eton in 1930 and made his first team debut in August 1931, vying with distinguished veteran Sam Millington before the latter’s retirement a year later.

Woodley’s agility and shot-stopping were great assets, and Chelsea chronicler Scott Cheshire described him as ‘quite outstanding and wonderfully reliable with an uncanny sense of anticipation.’

However, Vic may not have foreseen the arrival of another brilliant goalie, Johnny Jackson. An injury to the Scot passed the baton to Woodley and he rarely handed it back. For years Chelsea could boast the international keepers of England and Scotland, though for Johnny it was often a step up from the Chelsea Reserves team.

Vic actually established a new record by playing in 19 consecutive internationals up to the outbreak of World War Two and continued as the Pensioners’ no.1 during the conflict. His last ‘hurrahs’ were the Football League South Cup final in 1944 and the unforgettable friendly against Moscow Dynamo a year later. He died near Bath in 1978.

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