As the Blues prepare to face Everton at Goodison Park this weekend, we speak to a man who scored a memorable hat-trick for Chelsea in the fixture exactly 33 years ago today.
Gordon Davies, a former Wales striker, selects some of his favourite memories from playing away from home during his Chelsea career.
All strikers, regardless of age, experience or ability, thrive on scoring goals, and the quicker they are able to get off the mark, the better.
Patience was the key for Gordon Davies, who had to wait for the opportunity to show what he could do after signing for Chelsea from local rivals Fulham in October 1984.
The Kerry Dixon-David Speedie partnership was in full flow at the time, with both players scoring regularly and performing well, but when the Blues travelled to Hillsborough to take on Sheffield Wednesday early in December, our two main strikers were unavailable. Davies takes up the story.
‘Funnily enough, in that game Derek Johnstone, who had been at Chelsea for about a year, also made his debut,’ Davies recalls. Speedo was suspended and I think Kerry Dixon was injured, so it was Derek and myself, both making our debuts, up front.
‘I’d only been there a few months myself. My goal put us in front and I was so overjoyed to score on my debut because it doesn’t matter who you move to, or at which point in your career you move, all forwards want to get off to a quick start.
‘Fortunately for me I scored a near-post header from a Pat Nevin cross and I was up and running. To get on the scoresheet early always gets the fans on your side as well.
‘I had a point to prove, not to the Chelsea fans but to myself. I’d only played in the old Second and Third Divisions, and although I’d played at international level, you always want to play in the top league and prove you can score goals to put any doubters in their place.
‘It was just nice to be given the chance by Chelsea. When you’re scoring against the best teams in the league it gives you a boost as an individual and it gives your team-mates a boost because they know they can trust you in front of goal.’
A fortnight later, Davies enjoyed his finest game in a Chelsea shirt against an Everton team who would finish the season as champions, 13 points ahead of second-placed Liverpool.
The teams shared seven goals on a dramatic afternoon at Goodison Park, with the Blues eventually running out 4-3 winners. Davies was the star of the show and walked away with the match ball after scoring three times past his compatriot Neville Southall, as he recalls.
‘In Peter Reid’s book he says that hat-trick was the best he’s ever seen because it was left foot, right foot and header,’ says Davies. ‘It was amazing really because for the headed goal the person who crossed it from the right-hand side was Kerry Dixon. If I had a photo it would probably fetch thousands because I don’t think anybody can remember Kerry being out on the right wing. He put a corker of a cross in and I was in the box with Kevin Ratcliffe but I caught it sweetly and it flew into the top corner [pictured below]. It was the perfect header for someone of my stature, from around the penalty spot.
‘The second one was a left-footed shot from the edge of the box [main top image] which Big Nev couldn’t get down to and for the third goal I did a little cross-over with Pat on the edge of the box and curled a right-footed shot into the top corner. With all three of the goals Nev didn’t get a touch to them and when you consider, at that time, he was probably the best goalkeeper in England, if not the world, which made it phenomenal from my point of view.
‘I came off with cramp with about five minutes to go, I got a great reception from the Chelsea fans and then found out Mike England, the Wales manager at the time, was at the game and his next squad was due to be announced on the Monday.
‘We had Eddie Niedzwiecki, Joey Jones and Mickey Thomas in our team and it was Mickey who told me Mike was at the game, but the Monday came around and I wasn’t in the squad. I wasn’t even picked as a reserve. It was then I realised my face didn’t fit with Mike because if there was a game that was going to get me back in the squad, it was that one.’
Shortly after his hat-trick against the Toffees, Davies opened the scoring in a home game against Manchester United, although the visitors came from behind to take the points, but his ability to make an impact against the biggest sides continued and he was on target in a late-season 4-3 defeat at Anfield against the then-European champions.
‘The two best defenders I played against as a partnership were Mark Lawrenson and Alan Hansen, who were the Liverpool pairing that day,’ the Welshman remembers.
‘To score up at Anfield, and it was at the end where the Chelsea fans were, was fantastic. It wasn’t a tap-in, it was a low half-volley which beat Bruce Grobbelaar and went straight in the bottom corner.
‘When you played against Liverpool up at Anfield at that time you sometimes felt as if they had 14 or 15 players because they worked so hard and put you under pressure. Sometimes it went well but a lot of the time it didn’t. It’s one of those boxes you tick and it’s always been a fantastic playing surface up there, especially for teams like ourselves who were good going forward.’
Davies scored a highly credible six goals in his 15 Chelsea appearances before going on to join Manchester City, and he explains why the decision was made to move on.
‘I came away from the Everton game after scoring a hat-trick against the champions-elect and then I was dropped in either the next match, or the one after that, because Speedie was back from suspension.
‘That put me on the back foot because I felt like I was just going to be getting around 12 games a season and I needed to play more. I enjoyed my time at Chelsea and the club gave me a chance at the top level, but I felt I needed to get away and play more regularly.’
Davies later returned to Fulham, where he was prolific once more, before playing for Wrexham and Norwegian club Tornado. He then ended his career at Northwich Victoria in 1993 and went on to operate a successful business away from football.
‘I was working in the pest control industry running my own company for 20 years but I sold it on 1 December so officially I’m now retired. I’ve managed to make it through to retirement!
‘I still follow all the teams I played for but I don’t get along to many live matches nowadays.’