A Nostalgic Look at a Century of the Club
Introduced by Andy Sherwood
Haynes Publishing – £18.99
In the opening of this book’s Introduction, Andy Sherwood asks: ‘’What defines a football club? Is it the bricks and mortar that bind the stadium? Is it £100,000 a week salaries, trophies, WAGS and Sky Sports subscriptions? We’d argue that while football is all of these things now (some of them we like more than others), football’s identity and heritage lies in the past, and that’s no more evident than in the history of Chelsea.’’
The key word here of course is ‘history,’ for as current Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, pumps ever more (alledgedly) embezzled funds into one of the Premiership’s top-flight football teams, one cannot help but wonder if he’s remotely aware of his requisition’s history. With desperate managerial turn-around and the buying and selling of players as if they were nothing other than used cars – which to a certain degree they are: sleek, glamorous and sexy one minute (a younger, hungrier, Didier Drogba for instance), scuffed, knackered and quintessentially over-rated the next (an older, bolder John Terry m’lawd) – it’s easy to think of Chelski PLC as somewhere along the line, having lost its way.
Moreover, much the same could be applied to numerous clubs throughout the Premiership, Manchester City in particular; whose recent spate of phenomenal success in England, although not Europe, many might contest as having fundamentally been won by that of the much maligned’n’misused chequebook. Plain and exceedingly simple, although in truth, not really a lot to do with football.
Suffice to say, there’ll be part-time pundits, the length and breadth of every football terrace in the land that’ll vehemently argue otherwise. But I cannot help but agree with the sentiment(s) in this absolutely fabulous book of an eye-opener, Chelsea – A Nostalgic Look at a Century of the Club.
Addressing the so-called beautiful game when it was still a working-man’s game, these 208 pages contain a varied collection of extensive photographs (selected from the Daily Mirror’s comprehensive archive of tens and thousands of images) and comprehensive anecdotes; such as Ted Drake’s ‘’Too many people come to Stamford Bridge to see a football match instead of cheering Chelsea. Let’s have people eating, sleeping and drinking Chelsea.’’
As the aforementioned Sherwood states in the Introduction: ‘’You won’t find yellow Nike footballs in this book. Or Lamborghinis. This is a history of Chelsea celebrating a more innocent time. A time when there was little difference between the lads who played for The Blues and the lads who watched them from The Shed. A time when the players and fans would often walk to the ground together, sometimes even drink together, and then part at the gates to take their respective places on the terraces and pitch.
Not all of these times are remembered through rose-tinted spectacles. Some periods have warts on them, including the decline of the 1970s and the rise of football hooliganism.’’ The latter of which is acutely aligned with the rise of that other late seventies phenomenon, the advent of punk music, in a wonderful book for which I wrote the Forward, The Wrong Outfit (Authorhouse) by Al Gregg
That said, if it’s an all round, historical overview of the West London Club you’re after, this book really does take some considerable beating.