Teddy Maybank spent short but memorable spells at both Chelsea and Fulham, so ahead of this weekend’s meeting between two of his former sides we spoke to him to reminisce about life at Stamford Bridge in the 1970s.
A prodigious young striker from south London, Maybank first trained at our home ground aged 10 and was one of a number of players to come through our youth system in the mid-1970s.
He played 32 times for Chelsea, scoring six goals, during an injury-interrupted three years as a first team squad member, before moving on to Fulham and later Brighton and PSV Eindhoven.
Unfortunately, a chronic knee injury brought a premature end to his playing days at the age of just 24, but as he recalls to the official Chelsea website he still holds plenty of great memories…
Tell us about how you came to sign for Chelsea?
I ended up playing for South London where lots of scouts would be watching, but I didn’t sign any schoolboy forms. When I was 15 I had a bad injury and needed a cartilage operation. I was at Queens Park Rangers, but Chelsea called me in and operated on me on Christmas Day! Ian Hutchinson was having a steel plate put in on his leg, and the same surgeon operated on me.
I hadn’t signed for anybody but I had a few clubs after me, including Man U, Arsenal and Tottenham. But I thought because Chelsea did that without me even being on their books I would sign for them.
What were your immediate impressions of the club?
When I was 10, we used to train in the car park at the front of the ground! There were boards we would use as goals, and we would train on the asphalt. Then we trained upstairs where the snooker tables were! There were loads of pillars we had to duck in and out of.
Once we signed as apprentices we went down to Mitcham and that was a lovely training ground.
What do you remember of your Chelsea debut?
We were playing Tottenham at White Hart Lane in April 1975, and whoever lost was relegated. They had to delay the game by half-an-hour because of crowd violence. It was a hell of a debut to make.
At that time, people used to give you stick all the time. You didn’t take it personally, it was just something to distract me. I had been on the pitch for about 10 minutes and one of the Tottenham players said something to me that I can’t repeat, and then ran off!
It took me aback and I was wandering around in a daze for 10 minutes! He completely did me, but that used to happen in those days.
What do you remember about the backing the team received from the fans, both home and away?
The fans were great. They were proper supporters. They weren’t shy of giving you a bit of stick if you weren’t performing, but that was what you expected.
Of the squad that came through together in 1976 when we won promotion, eight or nine were from the youth team. We came through with the right attitude. We had enthusiasm and we played for the manager. The crowd really appreciated that squad coming through and getting Chelsea back into the First Division in 76/77.
Of all the managers you worked under here, who had the biggest influence on you, your game or your career?
Ken Shellito. Ken was my hero. He had the right way of playing, he gave you good information and he got a unity together that had never been seen.
Ken Shellito was such a legend. He would have been an England player for years if it wasn’t for injury. He was the best full-back in the country.
In training we would play five-a-side games and Ken would join in. He would wait for us to try and tackle him and then knock it in to the goal off our own legs! He was a great man and a great coach.
Eddie McCreadie was fantastic as well, don’t get me wrong. He was very harshly dealt with in my opinion.
Tell us about some of the most memorable games you were involved in for Chelsea…
That first one at White Hart Lane there were 65,000 people and the atmosphere was quite something. And it was my debut!
When I went to Fulham, I played against Chelsea and was up against Ron Harris, Ray Lewington, Kenny Swain, Garry Stanley, and they were my mates.
I went into a tackle and caught someone. Ron Harris came striding over. I said ‘Come on Chopper I was there for 10 years’ and put my arm round him. Luckily he smiled!
Which team-mates were you closest to during your time here? Are you still in touch with them now?
We had such a close-knit unit. I went to school with Ray Lewington from the age of 11 at Stockwell Manor. We were in the same class. We played in the same Sunday teams. We were like brothers. Then there was John Sparrow and Tommy Langley. We were all so close.
Were there any opposition teams or players you particularly disliked facing and, if so, why?
Any of the big sides! Especially being young. I hadn’t really found my feet, I was playing on natural instinct. We were sent out there to do what our managers thought we were good at. We weren’t that disciplined; we played because we absolutely enjoyed it.
When I made my debut in 1975 in front of 65,000, a relegation battle, I was on £40 a week. You would play for nothing! And then you got paid to do something and it was fantastic.
Why did you leave Chelsea for Fulham?
Jock Finnieston got in the team during the 1976/77 season, was scoring plenty of goals, and I wasn’t going to get in.
I didn’t really want to play in the reserves and I said as much to Eddie McCreadie. It was the impetuosity of youth and a bit stupid of me. He put me out on loan to Fulham and said to be patient because he thought I was a better player than Jock, but he was a better goalscorer when he was in form.
At Fulham I scored about four in four, and was playing with George Best, Rodney Marsh, Peter Storey, Bobby Moore. When I went back to Chelsea I was straight back in the reserves and I asked to go.
It was a great time playing with those players at Fulham and I did really well although I was only there for a little while before going to Brighton. They spent £230,000 on me which helped pay for what is now the Riverside Stand at Craven Cottage!
How do you look back on your time at Chelsea overall? Is there anything you would change or do differently?
We keep in contact with each other on Facebook and things like that. There is a confusing thing that really bugs me! I was with that youth squad, reserve squad, and then the first team, but every time there is a team photograph I’m not in it! I think I used to do it as a practical joke! Now I would much rather be in the photographs…they bring back so many memories.
We grew up together, we mowed the lawns, painted the dressing rooms, sweeping the terraces. That creates a bond. We would die for each other. We would fight and fight and fight, and if anyone let someone else down boy would they know about it. That was what we had at Chelsea. It was the greatest squad I was ever in. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
And finally, what are you expecting from this weekend’s game between two of your former sides?
I feel sorry for Fulham. It hasn’t gone their way this season, and they’re going to really struggle to stay up. I think with Chelsea’s result against Tottenham they are back on track and I think it will be a resounding away win.