To mark our founding 115 years ago today, we have six facts you may not know about Chelsea Football Club’s earliest days, including information on proposed names, nicknames and colours.
It was 10 March 1905 when our great club was officially created in the Rising Sun pub opposite the ground – now the Butcher’s Hook.
Here we have six more nuggets of information for you to learn more about our founding…
In early meetings various names for the proposed new club were discussed, including Kensington FC, London United, and Stamford Bridge FC. Frederick Parker argued for using Chelsea, saying that as an official of the London Athletic Club he had received letters redirected from the Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire – a famous battleground in 1066.
London Athletics Club meetings were held at the new Stamford Bridge in June 1905 before a ball was kicked on the pitch. All that could be seen of the East Stand, which opened two months later, was its huge supporting framework made of iron shipped down from a Glasgow foundry at a cost of £2,000 (around £250,000 today).
The annual rent paid by Chelsea FC to the owner of Stamford Bridge, Gus Mears, for use of the stadium during the 1905/06 season was £1,500 (around £185,000 today). The London Athletic Club, who continued to use facilities at the redeveloped stadium during the summer, forked out just £250 (around £30,000).
The matchday programme, the Chelsea FC Chronicle, encouraged a debate started in a local newspaper about what should be the new club’s nickname. They thought about the Chinamen (local Chelsea pottery), the Buns (Chelsea buns), as well as the Cherubs, the Colts, and the Little Strangers. The Chronicle eventually stuck with ‘the Pensioners’ (after the famous occupants of the nearby Royal Hospital) despite initially feeling it was ‘rather suggestive of the lights of other days’ and adopting ‘Buns.’
The Pensioners’ original shirt colour was described in the Chronicle as light blue. It was actually ‘Eton blue’, and taken from the horse-racing silks of Lord Cadogan, a local landowner and the club’s first President. The Pensioners switched to our iconic royal blue shirt for the first time in 1907/08.
Heard the one about the Irishman, two Englishmen, and eight Scotsmen? No? Well that was the make-up of the first eleven Chelsea ever fielded, at Stockport County on 2 September 1905: William Foulke (English), Bob Mackie (Scottish), Bob McEwan (Scottish), Tommy Miller (Scottish), Bob McRoberts (Scottish), Geordie Key (Scottish), Martin Moran (Scottish), Jacky Robertson (Scottish), Davie Copeland (Scottish), Jimmy Windridge (English), Jack Kirwan (Ireland).