Chelsea History: What you need to know about Chelsea Football Club

Chelsea was founded on 10 March 1905 at Rising Sun pub. The founding members were millionaire Henry Augustus ‘Gus’ Mears, Joseph, Henry Boyer, publican Alfred Janes, and also Edwin, his nephew. The idea to form Chelsea was the idea of another founder, Frederick Parker.

Their stadium was built at Stamford Bridge by the architect, Archibald Leitch. They debuted the stadium with a 4-0 friendly win over Liverpool. The team got admitted into the Football League Division Two and got their promotion to the First Division in 1907.

Chelsea started wearing the blue jersey in the first few years of the club. They have never moved from the stadium at Fulham Road. Chelsea were making tremendous progress and establishing themselves as an elite club. However, the club founder, Gus Mears died of kidney failure in 1912.

Chelsea were called the Pensioners. They broke the UK match attendance of 40,000 by witnessing 42,860. In 1919, Chelsea won Fulham 3-0 at Highbury to win the London Victory Cup. Though, they lost their first ever FA cup final to Sheffield United 3-0 in 1914/1915 season.

During the World War 1, football was badly affected and became a regional affair. But in 1919, English Football moved back to national competition. Chelsea was the best supported team in Second Division from 1919 to 1926. Stamford Bridge hosted the FA Cup from 1920 to 1922.

In 1933, David Calderhead’s 26-year reign as manager came to an underwhelming end. He never won a trophy, only coming close as a finalist in the FA Cup in 1915. Chelsea set a new record attendance of 82,905 at Stamford Bridge in 1935.

Fred Hanley, a British-Jamaican became the first Black to sign for Chelsea in 1938. Chelsea started the 1939/40 under Billy Birrell. They started the season impressively. However, by September 3, 1937, British Prime Minister has announced the start of war between Britain and Germany. Chelsea closed down on 8 September.

There were skeletal football events during the war, mostly regional affairs. There was however a famous friendly against the Soviet team, Dynamo Moscow in 1945.

Floodlights were added to the stadium in 1950s. In April 1951, Chelsea avoided relegation kick started by 1-0 win over Liverpool. They won their remaining three fixtures to avoid the drop. Chelsea wanted to participate in the 1955 inauguration of the UEFA European Cup but the Football League blocked the move.

Ted Drake, a young coach created an attacking team but they eventually they ended up in relegation. He introduced the use of badge in Chelsea jersey.

In 1964/65 season, Chelsea won the League Cup, and reached the semi-final in European Cup losing out to Barcelona. In 1969/70 season, they won the FA Cup after beating Leeds. It was watched by the largest British audience for club football – 28.5 million.

Chelsea went through difficult times in the 1970s. They were relegated in both 1975 and 1979. There was issues of wages, player departures and changes in management. Ray Wilkins, the best product from Chelsea youth setup was sold to Manchester United to offset the club debts. In 1976/1997, with a debt of £3.4m, Chelsea was almost bankrupt.

In 1982, due to heavy debts, the board sold Chelsea for one pound to the Vice-chairman of Wigan Athletic, Ken Bates. Several on-field and off-field issues continued to plague Chelsea. But manager, John Neal managed to save the team from falling to the third division in 1983 to the top flight the next season.

Chelsea got their first shirt sponsor, Gulf Air in 1983. Neal became seriously ill and team performance dipped. The assistant took over but could not steady the ship. Chelsea was relegated but bounced back the next season led by their talismanic captain, Graham Roberts. The gained record breaking 99 points.

Modern Chelsea Football Club was formed in the 1990s. The war over the control of the ground ended. Bosman ruling was introduced helping footballers with much freedom in their career choices.

The new Premier League founded in 1992/93 has Chelsea as a founding member. They have remained there ever since. UEFA competitions were also expanded becoming more lucrative.

Glenn Hoddle changed the team philosophy. They won the FA Cup in 1994 and then UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. In 1995, the board started an ambitious project to bring big names to the clubs. They signed Ruud Gullit, Gianluca Vialli, Frank Leboeuf, Gianfranco Zola, Marcel Desailly, Mark Hughes and other big names.

Chelsea won the FA Cup, League Cup, Cup Winner’s Cup and Super Cup. Chelsea secured their biggest win over Manchester United, 5-0.

The Abramovich Era (the 2000s)

The arrival of Claudio Ranieri lifted Chelsea from 6th to 2nd position, achieving a semi-final place in the Champions League. Emerging talents as John Terry and Frank Lampard started performing to their potentials. They lost the 2002 FA Cup but secured a Champions League place. This convinced Roman Abramovich, a Russian businessman to buy Chelsea from Ken Bates on 1st July 2003.

He cleared all the debts of the club. He brought Portuguese coach, the self-styled, “The Special One”. Players like Makelele, Drogba, Joe Cole and Damien Duff were acquired. Mourinho’s team won the league title for the first time in 50 years. They retained it the next season.

Chelsea brought back the rampant lion badge and switched to Adidas from Umbro. From2017, Nike has been manufacturing Chelsea jersey. Chelsea went close to Champions League victory losing 2008 final on penalties to Manchester United in Moscow.

The Champions League trophy was secured in 2012 under Roberto di Matteo. A night that proved to be the biggest in the history of the club. Drogba proved the hero in the final, scoring the equalizer late in the game and the winning penalty kick after extra-time. Lampard surpassed Bobby Tambling as Chelsea’s all-time leading goal-scorer. A year later, Chelsea won the UEFA Europa League after beating Benfica 1- 0.

Jose Mourinho returned in 2013. He won the Premier League the second season on his return. However he left after a sharp drop in performance the next season. Guus Hiddink did salvage the season and guided Chelsea to a mid-table finish.

Antonio Conte’s era brought a different tactical setup. His 3-4-3 formation helped Chelsea to the league title win in his first season in charge. They went on a 13-game winning streak. They ended the season with 93 points only 2 points shy of their 2015 record of 95 points.

Sarri’s one year stint at the club was met with criticism about his approach to the team play. However, he managed to win the Europa League after beating Arsenal 2-0 in Baku. The win inspired by Chelsea best player, Eden Hazard was Sarri’s first silverware in his coaching career. Sarri departed to Juventus, and so did Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.

Chelsea was handed a transfer ban by FIFA for irregularity in signing players. Lampard was appointed as the head coach. He was able to rely on youth team graduates such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, and earlier signings such as Kovacic from Real Madrid and Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund. They managed to secure a fourth place finish in the league. They also got to FA Cup final losing to Arsenal in Wembley.

Key Facts and Records

  • Chelsea originally used the paler eton blue shirt (taken from the racing color of club president, Earl Cadogan), white shorts, and black socks.
  • Chelsea manager, Tommy Docherty changed the jersey to blue short and white socks
  • The club is the sixth most valuable club with £2.13 billion ($2.576 billion)
  • Chelsea is the only London club to win a Champions League.
  • The major rivals are London clubs, Arsenal and Tottenham, and historically with Leeds
  • Roman Abramovich is the sole owner since 2003
  • Chelsea stadium remains Stamford Bridge, and have never been changed.
  • The record appearance is held by Ron Harris, an ex-captain with 795 competitive caps.
  • Lampard is the all-time record scorer with 211 goals
  • The biggest loss suffered by Chelsea is a 1-8 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1953.
  • Chelsea’s biggest win is a 13-0 win over Jeunesse Hautcharage.
  • In the English top-flight, Chelsea won 8-0 against Wigan in 2010 and repeated the same scoreline against Aston Villa in 2012.
  • With only 15 goals conceded and 25 clean sheets in 2004-05, Chelsea boosts the record for meanest defence in the Premier League history.
  • Chelsea was the first Premier League team since 1962-63 to score at least 100 goals. This feat was achieved during the 2009/10 season.
  • Chelsea holds the record for the longest run without home defeat, at 86 matches.
  • Chelsea still holds the transfer record for a goalkeeper with the £71 million transfer of Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Managers till date

John Tait Robertson – 1905-06
William Lewis – 1906-07
David Calderhead – 1907-33
Leslie Knighton – 1933-39
Billy Birrell – 1939
William Birrell – 1939-52
Ted Drake – 1952-61
Tommy Docherty – 1962-67
Dave Sexton – 1967-74
Ron Suart – 1974-75
Eddie McCreadie – 1975-77
Geoff Hurst – 1979-81
John Neal – 1981-85
John Hollins – 1985-88
Bobby Campbell – 1988-91
Ian Porterfield – 1991-93
David Webb – 1993
Glenn Hoddle – 1993-96
Ruud Gullit – 1996-98
Gianluca Vialli – 1998-2000
Claudio Ranieri – 2000-04
Jose Mourinho – 2004-07
Avram Grant – 2007-08
Luiz Felipe Scolari – 2008-09
Guus Hiddink – 2009
Carlo Ancelotti – 2009-11
Andre Villas-Boas – 2011-12
Roberto Di Matteo – 2012
Rafael Benitez – 2012-13
Jose Mourinho – 2013-15
Guus Hiddink – 2015-16
Antonio Conte – 2016-18
Maurizio Sarri – 2018-19
Frank Lampard – 2019 till date


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