Division Two - 1 September 1906
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.
The young recruit from West Ham had rattled in 19 of the tourists’ goals during an extensive post-season jaunt around Scandinavia and the Balkans the previous May, and here came proof he could sustain the firepower in the Second Division of English football. Chelsea won the toss and played with their backs to stun, which blazed straight into the eyes of the visitors and seemed to dazzle them.
The Pensioners scored inside 10 minutes through Copeland, with the forwards ‘working together splendidly,’ as the Daily Express saw it. ‘Hilsdon and [Jack] Kirwan were particularly smart and, as a result of their brilliant combination, the first-named scored the second goal.’ That strike would be the first of five for Gatling Gun George, who used North End for target practice. The score at half-time was, remarkably, 6-2 and although Glossop were ‘now palpably tired’ in the second period a mere three were added to the tally.
This was an historic match for Hilsdon, who remains the club’s most successful debutant, and Chelsea, who have never bettered that 9-2 scoreline in the league. In 1908 Football Chat magazine proposed a statue for Hilsdon, ’God of the Pensioners’, and by then an England star, at Stamford Bridge. Instead, a 13-foot weathervane in his image was erected above the East Stand, where a replica still stands.