Division Two - 3 May 1930
Chelsea’s support was at fever pitch before this vital fixture. David Calderhead’s side needed just a point to secure promotion to the top flight; a win, should Division Two leaders Blackpool fail at Nottingham Forest, would make the west Londoners champions. With crowds regularly topping 30, 40, 50,000, the Pensioners belonged back in the big time.
The club responded to demand and hired a special train to ferry supporters to Gigg Lane. Chelsea chairman Claude Kirby, who did not miss a single game, clocked up more than 5,000 miles by train following the Pensioners that season – 20,000 if the 1929 South America tour was added in.
The Daily Mirror’s gossip column also noted that ‘Football is not an entirely male monopoly. I hear that Mrs Paul Murray, wife of the theatrical manager, motored 400 miles in order to see the vital Chelsea v Bury match on Saturday.’
All too typically, the Pensioners went behind after eight minutes when Pugh beat Sam Millington, thereby putting poor Kirby, Mrs Murray and the other travelling hordes through the wringer.
‘If Chelsea had taken their chances at Bury there would have been no reasons of anxiety about the Barnsley result,’ grumbled the Mirror. ‘Many good chances were frittered by useless fancy work.’ Harry Miller, twice, and Jack Meredith hit the crossbar. In the second half Bury’s goalkeeper Harrison denied George Mills and Meredith again.
The final whistle went on a worrying 0-1 defeat. Then joyous news filtered across that Oldham, rivals for promotion, had lost 2-1 to relegation-threatened Barnsley and that the Pensioners had returned to football’s ‘upper circle’ after an absence of five years. Kirby no doubt penned a ‘thank you’ telegram to Oakwell on the celebratory train journey home.