Chelsea Football Club began its long history on March 10th 1905, formed in an upstairs room in the aptly named Rising Sun pub. Despite its old age, Chelsea is not even close to being the oldest club in London, with that title belonging to Fulham. The club built its home at the famous Stamford Bridge site where it still is today.
The outbreak of World War I changed life for everyone in England, but football didn’t stop. Whilst not confirmed, it is possible that a football sent by Chelsea F.C. was used in the famous Christmas Day football match between British and German soldiers.
Across the entire game, players in the early days of Chelsea F.C. were often employed elsewhere, playing football part-time. This tradition still exists now, although generally outside of top flight football. Players for lower league teams, such as Stansted F.C.’s former player Brian Weal, still hold down full time jobs as well as playing football.
A Brimming Trophy Cabinet
Despite failing to win a major trophy in the first fifty years of its history, Chelsea has become one of the most successful football clubs in Britain. The first trophy was picked up in 1955, after a few close calls in previous years.
A slew of victories began in the 90s and continued into the 21st century, including UEFA Champions League and Europa League victories, Several FA Cups and several league titles.
Since the club’s formation in 1905, Stamford Bridge has been the home of football for Chelsea, although the site predates the club; it was previously used for athletics meetings by the Victorian London Athletic Club. The first football stadium was built over a 12.5 acre site, designed to hold 100,000 spectators. The stadium also played host to three FA cup finals in 1920, 1921 and 1922.
Chelsea F.C. has been led by a number of big names; more recently this has included Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez, Carlo Ancelotti and Andre Villas Boas. Chelsea’s first manager John Tait Robertson was in charge for just 1905 and 1906, before being succeeded by William Lewis. Robertson had been a Rangers and Scotland midfielder before the change of career into football management for Chelsea.
Ted Drake was manager when Chelsea won its first trophy. Drake had been a centre-forward for both Arsenal and England, and transformed Chelsea into a winning team. By fielding amateur and younger players – and through the use of some moving motivational dressing room talks – Drake led Chelsea to its first league title in 1955.
Chelsea remained owned by the family of its founder, Gus Mear, until 1982, and was even floated on the AIM stock exchange in 1996. In 2003, Russian Businessman Roman Abramovich purchased the club for around £140 million.
Being recognised as a global brand, Chelsea FC has capitalised on this asset through a number of commercial relationships with other companies. The first of these sponsorship deals was with Gulf Air, which began in the 1983-84 season. More recent sponsorship deals include Samsung, Emirates, William Hill and EA Sports.
Founded much more recently than the men’s team, Chelsea F.C. Women started in just 1992, but wasn’t affiliated with the Chelsea F.C. men’s team until 2004. The women’s team got off to a much faster start than the men’s team, with trophies won in most years since 2003. A recent name change has seen Chelsea Ladies become Chelsea Football Club Women, a move which the club says represents modern views on equality.