The final instalment in our series of interviews with some of Chelsea’s most noteworthy goalkeepers over the past few decades is Dave Beasant, who was once the club’s record signing.
‘Lurch’, as he was dubbed by his team-mates, is best known for his heroics for Wimbledon, becoming the first goalkeeper to save a penalty in an FA Cup final as he skippered the Crazy Gang to an unlikely success over Liverpool in 1988.
Just over six months later, however, he was plying his trade at Stamford Bridge via a brief spell at Newcastle United, signing for a then club record fee of £725,000. He was an instant hit with the fans, as his commanding displays between the sticks helped us to promotion and the Zenith Data Systems Cup in his first six months as a Blue.
After helping us to finish fifth in Division One and then travelling to Italy for the World Cup as England’s third-choice keeper, Bes was in and out of the side for a few years. Although he was the keeper for our first-ever Premier League game, he was scapegoated by manager Ian Porterfield a short while later after an error-strewn game against Norwich City.
Beasant left us for Southampton in 1993 and, despite being 34, went on to play for another decade before going into coaching, most recently working with the goalkeepers at Reading.
Here are some of the best bits from an interview he did with Chelsea magazine a few years back.
Because of the way things ended at Chelsea, people often view your time here negatively. In reality, you had several very good years, including a spell when you were in the England squad. Did you enjoy your time as a Blue?
People often say to me, “You couldn't have had a good time at Chelsea” but I loved it there, I really enjoyed my time with the club. The fans were great, as were the lads and there was a wonderful atmosphere in the dressing room. And we had some good times on the pitch, too.
Because of what happened at the end of my time at the club, people often forget the rest. And even then, it was just a game and it was very poorly handled by the manager, Ian Porterfield, and because of what he said [Porterfield told the press after the Norwich game that Beasant would never play for the club again] he couldn't put me in the team again. But as soon as he got the sack, Dave Webb played me for the rest of the season.
Then came your losing battle with a jar of salad cream...
[Laughs] Yeah, my infamous salad cream injury – and that was it for my time at Chelsea.
Glenn Hoddle had just got his feet under the table and by the time I got back, Dmitri Kharine was doing very well and Hitchy [Kevin Hitchock] was in good form for the reserves. Glenn said to me that Dmitri had the shirt and it was up to me to try and get it off him, but Southampton had come in for me at that time and it was up to me if I wanted to go. I wanted first-team football at the time and it was another Premier League club, so I went for it.
How did the injury happen?
It was about a week before the start of pre-season training. I had quite a deep larder and I knocked a jar of salad cream out of it – I didn't drop it! – and my hands were in the larder, so my natural instinct was to try and break its fall with my foot. I had a cut about a centimetre wide on my toe, but it was how deep it was – it was right down to the bone and it severed the tendon in my big toe. So, my first conversation with Glenn was from Wexham Park Hospital!
Of course, it was quickly picked up on by supporters and the press…
Glenn told me I was too honest, he said I should have told people I dropped a shovel on it or something! There was a bit of stick and that was another thing people tend to remember me for. Whenever anyone gets a strange injury, it's always trotted out again. But on the other hand, my FA Cup final penalty save gets talked about most years around cup final time.
You generally got on pretty well with the fans, though, didn’t you?
I had a good rapport with them. The year we won the Second Division championship – the year I arrived – I tended to have a little chat and a laugh with the fans when the ball was up the other end. Which it was a lot of the time!
When I went to see a game at the Bridge a few years back, I was walking through the crowds to get into the stadium and there were a few chants of ‘Beasant show us your bum!’
What’s that all about?!
At Wimbledon, the whole team got fined for mooning at Alan Cork's testimonial match after the newspapers got a photograph of it. When I was playing for Chelsea against QPR at Loftus Road, the fans were chanting it there and I told them I'd do it at home next week, not realising the next home game was against Liverpool.
I came out for the warm-up and the chant went around the stadium so I did a bit of play-acting... I undid my tracksuit bottoms, pulled them down, but I had my shorts on and ‘My Bum’ in white tape on them! It just happened it got a good response from the fans, but a reporter got a picture of it and the Sunday papers ran that with the old photo from Wimbledon and I got a reprimand from the FA!
You’ve got to have a good sense of humour as a goalkeeper. It’s such an unforgiving position.
People remember my penalty save for Wimbledon, but I think you're remembered more for your mistakes. Strikers can miss open goals, but they'll be remembered for their goals if they put them in. It is a position where you realise that if you make a mistake it'll probably cost a goal and you'll get a bit of stick for it. Your concentration levels probably have to be far greater than the rest of the team.
How do team-mates typically respond to mistakes?
In general, in the team environment, everyone is very supportive during the game. But in the week after, in training, that's different – the banter might be flying about! You can't do it during a game because you need to bring the best out of someone, not send them further down. You want to see someone's response to a mistake, too, and you want it to be positive. It's a good test of character.
Goalkeepers nowadays often refer to the unofficial ‘Goalkeepers' Union’. Did you subscribe to that way of thinking?
Yeah, I got on great with the other keepers here – in fact, I still get on well with Hitchy. Roger Freestone was here for a little while too and he was a strange one – he was homesick for Wales and he didn't have a great time with us. But he was a good lad.
I was actually an adopted Scot at the club, which sounds a bit odd. I roomed with Clarkey [Steve Clarke’ and then there was Gordon Durie and Kevin McAllister, so whenever we went for our Christmas drinks we did our customary walk around the bar with the stools turned upside down on our shoulders, pretending they were bagpipes! It was all good fun.
You made it into the England squad for Italia ’90 but didn’t play any games, even though the Three Lions appeared in the third/fourth place play-off and you’d typically see the back-up players selected.
Peter Shilton wanted to play the whole game. It was quite funny because me and Chris Woods hadn't played at all and Woodsy was at his second World Cup without playing a game so I thought he'd start and I'd come on at half-time. But Shilts said he wanted to play his 125th international game and then retire. We were thinking, ‘Why can't you do it in a celebration game at Wembley after the tournament?’ But it didn't happen and he had a bit of a 'mare with Italy's goal, so there were a few chuckles on the bench.
Even after you left Chelsea you remained linked with the club in some way during your playing days.
Well, when I was at Nottingham Forest I actually trained at Chelsea two days a week – Dave Bassett said I didn't have to come up on the Thursday and Friday. Gianfranco Zola would come out with a bag of balls after everyone had gone in so I stayed out with him for some free-kick training.
He was unbelievable – he'd take 10 free-kicks and score with six of them! I'd set myself up, banking on the wall to do a job. But he'd keep putting it over the wall so I'd change my position slightly and he'd put it the other side. You just couldn't cheat against him!
You also played in the same team as John Terry when he went on loan to Forest.
I've got a good story about JT. David Platt, who was manager at the time, used to put us in a hotel before every home game and some of us were a bit more mischievous than others. I'd always try to nick someone's room key and there was a lad called Jack Lester who was our striker and rooming with JT. He was the butt of my jokes so I tried to do him every week!
This time he got his key before I managed to, but I was in the room next door and they left their window open when they went out. There was at least a 12-foot drop and I managed to swing over to their window – I got in there and we put all of JT and Jack's gear in the bath! They couldn't believe how I got in there. So, the next time JT gets one of the lads with that one, they've got me to thank!
This was the final part of our Hands On series. The first explored the modern history of Chelsea goalkeeping and the mentality needed to make it as the last line of defence, which was followed by interviews with Kevin Hitchcock, Eddie Niedzwiecki, Ed de Goey, Tony Godden, Frode Grodas, Dmitri Kharine and Carlo Cudicini. We hope you enjoyed reading it.