History

Chelsea's Scottish stars

After Billy Gilmour’s eye-catching performance against Liverpool, here’s a reminder of our rich heritage when it comes to players and managers from north of the border making an impact at Stamford Bridge.

Once upon a time, there was rarely a Chelsea team that took to the field without some form of Scottish influence.

For many of our younger fans, however, the sight of a Scotsman lining up for the Blues may have been something they had never seen before Gilmour made his debut in our Carabao Cup win over Grimsby Town last autumn.

Prior to that, not since centre-half Steven Watt had a player from north of the border been named in the starting line-up – and that was way back in January 2005, when we beat Scunthorpe United 3-1 in an FA Cup third-round tie at the Bridge.

That 14-year absence without a Scot pulling on the famous blue shirt should not come as that big a surprise, however, when you consider we have only had nine Scottish debutants since the start of the 1990s.

Two of them, John Spencer and Craig Burley, appeared in more than 100 matches each, while David Hopkin and Robert Fleck were just shy of the 50-appearance mark, but otherwise the Tartan Army contingent have not had much to shout about at the Bridge for years. 

That is in stark contrast to what occurred for much of the rest of our history, when Scottish players and managers left an indelible mark on the football club.

We have had two double Player of the Year winners in Charlie Cooke and Pat Nevin, both of whom dazzled the Chelsea faithful like few others, as well as two more Scotland internationals to take home that prize in David Speedie – albeit English-born – and Steve Clarke. The latter, now the Scotland national team manager, also coached here when we won our first two Premier League titles.

Delving further back, Eddie McCreadie made more than 400 appearances as a revolutionary, attack-minded left-back, as well as scoring one of the all-time great League Cup final goals. One of his team-mates during that trophy-winning era was Johnny Boyle, an underrated midfielder who appeared 266 times for the club.

And Chic Thomson, a Scottish-born goalkeeper, was between the sticks for our maiden major trophy triumph, when we were crowned champions of England for the first time in 1995.

Then the Wembley Wizards who tore England apart in 1928 contained one Blues player, Tommy Law, and had two more, the great Hughie Gallacher and Alex Jackson, who would later join the club.

Oh, and let’s not forget Erin Cuthbert is the reigning Player of the Year for our Women’s set-up! She just played her part in helping us lift the Continental League Cup, which meant she, and the club, have now won a clean sweep of domestic honours.

We have also had six managers from our northern neighbours, each of whom will go down in folklore for various reasons.

John Tait Robertson was our first gaffer, a role he combined with playing, and then David Calderhead led us in almost 1,000 matches.

Billy Birrell set-up a youth system which became arguably the finest in the land before Tommy Docherty took it a step further by blooding a team of youngsters which became known as his Diamonds.

McCreadie, likewise, flourished with a group of talented young players under his stewardship. But spare a thought for the late Ian Porterfield, who was the first manager to be sacked during the Premier League era!

So, there may still be a long way for Gilmour to go to establish himself as the latest tartan titan at the Bridge, but if he keeps performing like he did against Liverpool then the future could be very bright indeed.

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