1905–06 Chelsea F.C. season
|Top goalscorer||Frank Pearson (18)
The 1905-06 season was Chelsea Football Club's first competitive season and first year in existence as a football club. As a new team to the English Football League, Chelsea competed in the Football League Second Division with 19 other teams, playing each at home and away. Under the management of player-manager John Robertson, Chelsea finished third in the division, earning 53 points (under the two points for a win system) in 38 games.
Formation and pre-season buildup
Chelsea Football Club were founded on 10 March 1905 although the club's early existence was hindered with problems. Since there was already a team named Fulham in the borough, a name for the club had to be decided. After London FC, Kensington FC and Stamford Bridge FC were rejected, the name of the adjacent borough, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, was settled on.
Blue shirts were adopted for the team by the club's founder and first chairman, Gus Mears, along with white shorts and dark blue socks. Further problems arose when the team were denied entry to the Southern League following objections from Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur, so admission to the Football League was applied for. Their candidacy was endorsed at the Football League AGM on 29 May 1905. Scottish international John Robertson was hired as the club's first player-manager, a half-back who would go on to score Chelsea's first competitive goal in a 1-0 win against Blackpool. After this, the club recruited many established players from other teams, including 22 stone goalkeeper William "Fatty" Foulke previously of Sheffield United, and forward Jimmy Windridge who came from Small Heath.
|Name||Nationality||Position (s)||Signed from|
|Michael Byrne||GK||Southampton F.C.|
|Willie Foulke||GK||Sheffield United F.C.|
|James Craigie||DEF||Fulham F.C.|
|Bob McEwan||DEF||Glossop North End A.F.C.|
|Tommy Miller||DEF||Falkirk F.C.|
|James Fletcher||MID||Chelsea F.C.|
|Charles Harris||MID||Chelsea F.C.|
|George Key||MID||Heart of Midlothian F.C.|
|John Robertson||MID||Rangers F.C.|
|James Toomer||MID||Southampton F.C.|
|Frank Wolff||MID||Chelsea F.C.|
|David Copeland||FOR||Tottenham Hotspur F.C.|
|Charles Donaghy||FOR||Rangers F.C.|
|Joe Goodwin||FOR||Chelsea F.C.|
|Tom McDermott||FOR||Bradford City A.F.C.|
|Bob McRoberts||FOR||Small Heath|
|Martin Moran||FOR||Celtic F.C.|
|Francis O'Hara||FOR||Chelsea F.C.|
|Frank Pearson||FOR||Eccles Borough F.C.|
|Jimmy Robertson||FOR||Rangers F.C.|
|Jimmy Windridge||FOR||Small Heath|
Season review and highlights
On Saturday September 2nd 1905, just before three o’clock, a marching band, followed by a rabble of excited football fans draped in red and white stripes, wound its way through the Victorian streets of Stockport into County's Edgeley Park stadium. The largest ever crowd for the Cheshire club had come to catch the League debut of this glamorous new team from London, Chelsea FC.
Chelsea lost out, narrowly, 0-1. But some principles, established straight away, have resonated ever since. The team was attractive and ambitious, with many non-English players (albeit Scots and Irish); they played football with attacking flair; and they participated in a ‘first’ – larger-than-life keeper Willie Foulke had to adhere to a brand new rule dictating that goalies must stay rooted to the line when County were awarded a penalty.
Skipper Foulke – who saved the penalty – was a boisterous, 6 ft 3 in (190 cm), 22 stone (140 kg) Shropshireman. One opposing forward felt facing him was “as though darkness had come over the goal.” He was marketed much like David Beckham is today, albeit on difference criteria: men marched around town when Chelsea were visiting with sandwich boards saying: 'Come and see the 23 stone goalkeeper!'
The England international was just one of many big names drawn in the summer to the new name in English football. Manager John Tait “Jacky” Robertson, himself a Scotsman, had managed to recruit, amongst others, the prolific Johnnie Kirwan, David Copeland and 5’7” inside-forward Jimmy Windridge, who notched our first hat-trick in the 5-1 home debut win over Hull on Sept 9th.
The novelty of the capital's first big professional Football League club drew massive crowds all around the country. On Good Friday 1906, for the crunch visit of title rivals Manchester United, an extraordinary attendance of 67,000 was recorded at the Bridge - more than three times the figure for the return fixture at Clayton.
With record-breaking numbers drawn to Stamford Bridge it was clear the club was too big for this level. Robertson's men decimated lesser opponents: Barnsley 6-0, Lincoln 7-0, Blackpool 6-0, Port Vale 7-0, Orient 6-0, Leeds 4-0.
But a poor spell of earning just three points from a possible ten (it was two for a win in those days) during the run-in meant that our expected promotion charge fizzled out behind runaway winners Bristol City and Manchester United, who claimed the other promotion slot.
The Fulham Chronicle ran articles to decide a nickname for the exciting debutants. Against ‘The Chinamen’, ‘The Buns’ and ‘The Cherubs’, we might be grateful that ‘The Pensioners’ came out on top, even though, as the Football Star observed, it was “rather suggestive of the lights of other days.”
Our motto in that first season was less in dispute. “Don’t worry!” was the regular rallying cry of millionaire owner Gus Mears. It served just as well for most of the 100 to follow.
– A fixture highlighted in this colour indicates Chelsea won the match.
– A fixture highlighted in this colour indicates the match was drawn.
– A fixture highlighted in this colour indicates Chelsea lost the match.
|2 September 1905||Stockport County||Edgeley Park (Away)||7 000||1-0|
|9 September 1905||Blackpool||Bloomfield Road (Away)||4 000||0-1||J.T.Robertson|
|11 September 1905||Hull City||Stamford Bridge (Home)||6 000||5-1||Copeland 2, Windridge 3|
|16 September 1905||Bradford City||Valley Parade (Away)||17 000||1-1||McRoberts|
|23 September 1905||West Bromwich Albion||Stamford Bridge (Home)||10 123||1-0||McRoberts|
|30 September 1905||Leicester City||Filbert Street (Away)||7 000||0-1||J.Robertson|
|14 October 1905||Lincoln City||Sincil Bank (Away)||3 000||1-4||McRoberts, Pearson 2, Windridge|
|21 October 1905||Chesterfield||Stamford Bridge (Home)||10 000||0-1|
|30 October 1905||Burslem Port Vale||Athletic Ground (Away)||5 000||3-2||Moran, Windridge|
|4 November 1905||Barnsley||Stamford Bridge (Home)||8 000||6-0||McRoberts(pen.), McDermott 2, Pearson 2, Copeland|
|11 November 1905||Leyton Orient||Brisbane Road (Away)||8 000||0-3||Pearson 2, Copeland|
|18 November 1905||Burnley||Stamford Bridge (Home)||8 000||1-0||McRoberts|
|25 November 1905||Leeds City||Elland Road (Away)||20 000||0-0|
|2 December 1905||Burton United||Stamford Bridge (Home)||7 000||3-0||Moran, J.Robertson, McDermott|
|9 December 1905||Grimsby Town||Stamford Bridge (Home)||7 000||2-0||McDermott, Kirwan|
|16 December 1905||Gainsborough Trinity||The Northolme (Away)||8 000||0-2||J.Robertson, Hall(o.g)|
|23 December 1905||Bristol City||Stamford Bridge (Home)||25 000||0-0|
|25 December 1905||Manchester United||Old Trafford (Away)||35 000||0-0|
|26 December 1905||Glossop North End||North Road (Away)||6 000||2-4||J.T.Robertson, McRoberts, Kirwan 2|
|30 December 1905||Stockport County||Stamford Bridge (Home)||12 000||4-2||J.Robertson 3, Pearson|
|6 January 1906||Blackpool||Stamford Bridge (Home)||6 000||6-0||J.T.Robertson, Moran, J.Robertson, Pearson 2, Kirwan|
|20 January 1906||Bradford City||Stamford Bridge (Home)||14 000||4-2||J.Robertson, Copeland, McDermott, Kirwan|
|27 January 1906||West Bromwich Albion||The Hawthorns (Away)||25 000||1-1||Pearson|
|5 February 1906||Leicester City||Stamford Bridge (Home)||6 000||3-3||J.Robertson, Pearson, Windridge|
|10 February 1906||Hull City||Anlaby Road Cricket Ground (Away)||7 000||4-3||J.Robertson, J.T.Robertson, Windridge|
|17 February 1906||Lincoln City||Stamford Bridge (Home)||3 000||4-2||Key, McRoberts(pen.), Pearson, McDermott|
|24 February 1906||Chesterfield||Saltergate (Away)||7 000||0-2||Pearson, Kirwan|
|3 March 1906||Burslem Port Vale||Stamford Bridge (Home)||10 000||7-0||McRoberts(pen.), J.T.Robertson, Moran, J.Robertson, Pearson, Kirwan 2|
|10 March 1906||Barnsley||Oakwell (Away)||7 900||1-2||Pearson, Windridge|
|17 March 1906||Leyton Orient||Stamford Bridge (Home)||15 000||6-1||J.T.Robertson(pen.), J.Robertson, Pearson, Windridge 2, Donaghy|
|24 March 1906||Burnley||Turf Moor (Away)||8 000||2-0|
|31 March 1906||Leeds City||Stamford Bridge (Home)||9 000||4-0||McRoberts(pen.), McDermott, Pearson, Windridge|
|7 April 1906||Burton United||Peel Croft (Away)||10 000||2-4||J.Robertson, Windidge 3|
|13 April 1906||Manchester United||Stamford Bridge (Home)||67 000||1-1||McDermott|
|14 April 1906||Grimsby Town||Blundell Park (Away)||6 000||1-1||J.T.Robertson|
|16 April 1906||Glossop North End||Stamford Bridge (Home)||30 000||0-0|
|24 April 1906||Gainsborough Trinity||Stamford Bridge (Home)||10 000||1-3||Mackie|
|28 April 1906||Bristol City||Ashton Gate (Away)||14 000||2-1||Pearson|
Position in league
|4||West Bromwich Albion||38||22||8||8||79||36||2.194||52|
|6||MID||John Tait Robertson||7||7|
- Glanvill (2006). Chelsea FC: The Official Biography. p. 55.