Marvin Hinton paid Chelsea a visit this week...
Sixty years on from when the cultured defender first signed for the club for whom he would go on to make 344 appearances, he along with his son Darren and grandson Oliver were with us watching the modern-day Blues hard at work on the training pitch, part of a celebration of his 83rd birthday. It had been intended as an occasion to mark his 80th but was delayed because of the pandemic.
Signed by Tommy Docherty in 1963, early in the Scot’s time holding the Chelsea reins, Hinton was a versatile regular in the defence as the Doc crafted an exciting young side that regularly challenged for honours like no Chelsea side before. Though less favoured by Dave Sexton, he was still part of historic moments for the club under Docherty’s successor whom he outlasted before leaving Stamford Bridge in 1976.
At a training ground very different from the one in Mitcham he and his team-mates used back in the day, the native south Londoner shared with us a few of his memories and started with his thoughts on what he had just watched at Cobham.
‘It is nothing at all like training in my day, everything is so quick,’ Hinton observed, ‘and the facilities are so much better than we had.
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‘I was not a good trainer but with the ball, I could play in any of the back positions. I had a go at right-back, left-back, centre-back and then sweeper, and that was my best position.
‘When it came to all the running we had to do I used to use my loaf, as they say.
‘We did some training at Epsom Downs and Peter Bonetti, he was as fit as a fiddle and he would go off and be so far in front, two or three of us would sit to one side and watch him go, and he would come round having done a lap and then we would come out and join in.
‘They would be thinking Marvin is doing well, he is about fifth from the front!’
While Hinton might not have been the most keen on the hard running asked of players in training in the 1960s and 1970s, he can be considered ahead of his time in the way he defended – with a preference for playing the ball, bringing it out from the back and anticipating danger and reading the game so well.
‘I would think it is no good just kicking it, I liked to pull it down and shuffle it, pass it, get it back again and then set them off,’ he recalls.
‘Ronnie [Harris] would do the tackling and I used to pick up the pieces and look and have time. It was a different game altogether from now. It was not easy to play on the heavy grounds but we were successful and it was the first time Chelsea had won cups.’
Indeed Marvin was in the side when the first major knockout trophy in the club’s history was secured – the 1965 League Cup and although he is dismissive of his own display two years later when Docherty’s side lost to Spurs in our first Wembley FA Cup final, he came on as substitute in both the original game and the replay when we beat Leeds in the 1970 final.
Alf Ramsey named Hinton in his large, provisional England squad for the 1966 World Cup but he did not make the cut as more combative centre-halves were preferred.
‘I remember before I signed for Tommy Docherty I was at Charlton,’ he recalls, ‘and I knew that Chelsea was interested but I didn’t know what money they had offered.
‘Charlton were playing an evening game and I didn’t have a car, I used to walk and get the train, and as I came to the main entrance I heard this whistling sort of noise and all of a sudden, Tommy Doc was there saying we are signing you for the weekend so don’t get injured.
‘So I said alright Tom, and I said to the Charlton manager that I did not want to play because I was going to Chelsea. He said oh no you are not, you are playing for me, so I went and stood on the wing and the fellow I was marking scored three goals.
‘The captain came in afterwards and said get rid of Marvin, he don’t want to know, so I went in on Thursday and signed for Chelsea and doubled my money.
‘Dave [Sexton] did not like my style of play, I used to get in if somebody was injured. That was the latter part of my Chelsea career but when Dave worked under Tommy Docherty he was a brilliant coach. He used to go abroad and see games and brought that back.
‘Peter Osgood was fantastic,’ Hinton says as his recollections move onto some of his team-mates.
‘He was a bit of a jack the lad but he was a great player and would score goals – him and Ian Hutchinson, the pair of them sorted Jack Charlton out in the FA Cup final. It took two of them – but he lost his temper and then he wasn’t the same player.
‘Charlie Cooke was a very good player but an individual. He was a dribbler, he liked to beat two or three players at a time but he could lose the ball. I’d be thinking get rid of it Charlie!
‘Bobby Tambling was like another Greavsie, not quite as good but he could score goals.
‘And Peter Bonetti - the Cat - people used to say to me that I didn’t head the ball enough and I used to say with Peter in goal coming out to catch the ball, you don’t need me to head it away!
‘I was looking at some photos last week and there was myself and Ossie both either side of the cup, holding it.
‘I had a good life when I was playing, for a great club to play for. It is even better now!’