Happy birthday Chelsea Football Club!
You’ve taught me things no classroom could, no teacher could. You’ve given me more heartbreaks than anyone ever will, painted more smiles on my face than any lame joke ever could. You’ve given me half a lifetime worth of emotions in under a decade.
We’re not going through a good patch right now, yes. The way we’re being run is not the most ideal. But, I’m gonna borrow a bit of Liverpool here, and say, ‘At the end of the storm, is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark’.
We’ll get through this fiasco. We will persevere. If there’s anything to learn from last year, it is that you must never give up, how many ever odds there seems to be against you. There is a lot to learn from this year too, off the field and on it, because what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Because we, are Chelsea Football Club and we do not give up.
I love you, Chelsea FC. All the way from Fatty Foulke to Bobby Tambling, from Jimmy Greaves to Charlie Cooke, from Roy Bentley to Roberto di Matteo, from the Italian Trio to Mazacar, from Desailly to John Terry, from Peter Bonetti to Petr Cech, from Sexton to Mourinho, from Peter Osgood to Didier Drogba and from Dennis Wise to Frank Lampard
Chelsea Football Club was founded on 10 March 1905 at The Rising Sun pub (now The Butcher’s Hook), opposite the present-day main entrance to the ground on Fulham Road, and were elected to the Football League shortly afterwards.
The club won promotion to the First Division in their second season, and yo-yoed between the First and Second Divisions in their early years. They reached the 1915 FA Cup Final, where they lost to Sheffield United at Old Trafford, and finished 3rd in the First Division in 1920, the club’s best league campaign to that point. Chelsea attracted large crowds and had a reputation for signing big-name players, but success continued to elude the club in the inter-war years. Former Arsenal and England centre-forward Ted Drake became manager in 1952 and proceeded to modernise the club. He removed the club’s Chelsea pensioner crest, improved the youth set-up and training regime, rebuilt the side with shrewd signings from the lower divisions and amateur leagues, and led Chelsea to their first major trophy success – the League championship – in 1954–55. The following season saw UEFA create the European Champions’ Cup, but after objections from The Football League and the FA Chelsea were persuaded to withdraw from the competition before it started.Chelsea failed to build on this success, and spent the remainder of the 1950s in mid-table. Drake was dismissed in 1961 and replaced by player-coach Tommy Docherty.
Docherty built a new team around the group of talented young players emerging from the club’s youth set-up and Chelsea challenged for honours throughout the 1960s, enduring several near-misses. They were on course for a treble of League, FA Cup and League Cup going into the final stages of the 1964–65 season, winning the League Cup but faltering late on in the other two. In three seasons the side were beaten in three major semi-finals and were FA Cup runners-up. Under Docherty’s successor, Dave Sexton, Chelsea won the FA Cup in 1970, beating Leeds United 2–1 in a final replay. Chelsea took their first European honour, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup triumph, the following year, with another replayed win, this time over Real Madrid in Athens.
The late 1970s through to the 1980s was a turbulent period for Chelsea. An ambitious redevelopment of Stamford Bridge threatened the financial stability of the club, star players were sold and the team were relegated. Further problems were caused by a notorious hooligan element among the support, which was to plague the club throughout the decade. In 1982, Chelsea were, at the nadir of their fortunes, acquired by Ken Bates for the nominal sum of £1, although by now the Stamford Bridge freehold had been sold to property developers, meaning the club faced losing their home. On the pitch, the team had fared little better, coming close to relegation to the Third Division for the first time, but in 1983 manager John Neal put together an impressive new team for minimal outlay. Chelsea won the Second Division title in 1983–84 and established themselves in the top division, before being relegated again in 1988. The club bounced back immediately by winning the Second Division championship in 1988–89.
After a long-running legal battle, Bates reunited the stadium freehold with the club in 1992 by doing a deal with the banks of the property developers, who had been bankrupted by a market crash. Chelsea’s form in the new Premier League was unconvincing, although they did reach the 1994 FA Cup Final. It was not until the appointment of Ruud Gullit as player-manager in 1996 that their fortunes changed. He added several top international players to the side, as the club won the FA Cup in 1997 and established themselves as one of England’s top sides again. Gullit was replaced by Gianluca Vialli, who led the team to victory in the League Cup Final and the Cup Winners’ Cup Final in 1998, the FA Cup in 2000 and their first appearance in the UEFA Champions League. Vialli was sacked in favour of Claudio Ranieri, who guided Chelsea to the 2002 FA Cup Final and Champions League qualification in 2002–03.
In June 2003, Bates sold Chelsea to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for £140 million. Over £100 million was spent on new players, but Ranieri was unable to deliver any trophies, and was replaced by José Mourinho. Under Mourinho, Chelsea became the fifth English team to win back-to-back league championships since the Second World War (2004–05 and 2005–06), in addition to winning an FA Cup (2007) and two League Cups (2005 and 2007). In September 2007, Mourinho was replaced by Avram Grant, who led the club to their first UEFA Champions League final, which they lost on penalties to Manchester United.
In 2009, caretaker manager Guus Hiddink guided Chelsea to another FA Cup success,and in 2009–10, his successor Carlo Ancelotti led them to their first league and FA Cup “Double”, becoming the first English top-flight club to score 100 league goals in a season since 1963. In June 2011, Ancelotti was sacked and replaced by André Villas-Boas,who was in turn dismissed in March 2012. Under caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea won their seventh FA Cup,and their first UEFA Champions League title, beating Bayern Munich 4–3 on penalties, the first London club to win the trophy. Di Matteo was made permanent manager but was sacked in November 2012 and replaced with Rafael Benítez.In 2013, the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) ranked Chelsea the best club in the world, replacing Barcelona at the top of the world rankings.
Happy 108th birthday again, Chelsea!