Chelsea Football Club is 112 years old today and a crowdfunding project has been launched by supporters to raise money for a memorial for a player from the early years in our history.
Jack Whitley was a goalkeeper for seven seasons from 1907, making 138 appearances before taking on the duty of trainer for the whole of the period between the wars. He was an important figure for the players with his role behind the scenes, and a familiar one to the fans from his dashes onto the pitch to tend to the injured.
Club historian Rick Glanvill has discovered that Whitley specifically requested to be buried at Brompton Cemetery (pictured above), which is Stamford Bridge’s next-door neighbour on the east side, and his grave has since been located. Although several of the club’s founders have graves in Brompton Cemetery, Whitley is the only Chelsea footballer known to have been buried there but at the moment his is a common grave with no stone to acknowledge his presence.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, liaising with the Friends of Brompton Cemetery, the Royal Parks and club officials, has an on-going project to improve the condition of the resting places of these important people from Chelsea’s past, and their aim now is to raise money for a fitting memorial for Whitley’s grave.
Similar was done for our first star striker George Hilsdon’s headstone in Leicestershire, and in October the grave of the club’s co-founder, Frederick Parker, in West Sussex was cleaned up by the volunteer supporters (pictured below) having initially been restored by the club back in 2010.
Chelsea Football Club was formed on this day, 10 March, in 1905 at a meeting of shareholders and directors at the Rising Sun pub, now the Butcher’s Hook which sits opposite the main entrance at Stamford Bridge.