The Leader Board
feature Wed 30 Sep 2015
A Chelsea player for 12 seasons during the Sixties and Seventies when we reached and won cup finals, Marvin Hinton is the latest man to be featured in the Leader Board, our series looking at those who captained Chelsea…
Hinton was a cultured defender who arrived at Stamford Bridge in August 1963, costing £30,000 from Charlton Athletic, the club he had spent six years at after signing as a 17-year-old. His performances in south-east London earned him three England Under-23 caps in 1962; his teammates at that level included Peter Bonetti, Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Tambling.
At Chelsea, Hinton joined Tommy Docherty’s recently-promoted and fast-polishing diamonds, quickly establishing himself in the team and helping maintain the positive momentum sweeping through the club. He made 100 Division One appearances in his first three seasons at the club, when we finished fifth, third and fifth respectively. He was also a near ever-present in the League Cup-winning team of 1964/65, and that same season we reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and ran Manchester United and Leeds United close in the league.
At home either as a central defender or a full-back, Hinton was an unflappable presence at the back. He was calm and capable in possession and used the ball well. What he lacked in pace he more than made up for with positional nous, and these qualities, allied to his intelligent reading of the game, led Docherty to deploy him in an unfamiliar sweeper position for our epic Fairs Cup campaign of 1965/66.
By his own account he broke new ground by playing in that role and as such blazed a defensive trail. His first appearance at sweeper was away at Roma in the second leg of the first-round tie, though it was further north in Italy, against AC Milan, that his stock rose considerably. He organised the defence admirably against a potent Milanese strike force and ensured we took only a 2-1 loss back to the Bridge for the second leg. He is said to have outshone his opposite number, the great Cesare Maldini, in the San Siro.
‘I was the first English sweeper and it was a role I found very enjoyable,’ said Hinton.
‘Tommy Docherty developed the idea when we played in Europe against teams who were technically better than us. He was worried that the quick passing and one-twos these teams played around our box would cut through our defence and so he wanted someone in there to cover the central defenders.
‘It suited my style of play to be the sweeper, because one of my strengths was reading the game and I liked to pass the ball out from the back. I wasn’t the most physical of players so that free role was perfect for me.’
Unsurprisingly, he retained that position for the remainder of our Fairs Cup run that year as we got to the semi-finals (eventually succumbing to Barcelona in a replay), and he only missed four domestic games as we finished fifth and reached the semis of the FA Cup. His performances in 1965/66 deservedly earned him a place in a squad of 40 English players Alf Ramsey originally selected for the 1966 World Cup.
The season after that glorious summer Hinton was an ever-present as we got to the final of the FA Cup, losing 2-1 to Tottenham. He would get his hands on a winner’s medal in that competition three years later, however, coming on as a substitute in both games against Leeds.
In the replay at Old Trafford his introduction with five minutes remaining helped calm rapidly fraying nerves on the pitch and in the terraces as we clung on to our 2-1 advantage. He is the first Chelsea player to have appeared in a cup final off the bench. He is pictured on the far right helping keep captain Ron Harris aloft.
By then Hinton was indeed a bit-part player, principally because of the arrival of David Webb in February 1968, but he was content to remain at the Bridge in the role of understudy.
Despite rarely being sure of a place he stayed at Chelsea until 1976, though his final appearance for the club was on the final day of the 1974/75 season, a 1-1 draw with Everton at the Bridge.
In total Hinton made 344 appearances for Chelsea, scoring four goals, and his longevity and likeability meant he would have served as a capable leader of the team at any time in the absence of regular long-term skipper Harris.