Derby day one
Inside Blue Sun 12 Nov 2017
We may be treated to frequent London derbies these days, but this week marks 110 years since two capital clubs played each other in the top flight for the first time.
We have become accustomed to the derby atmosphere at Stamford Bridge now, having played four already this season, with Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Crystal Palace and West Ham United all representing London in the Premier League in 2017/18.
However, before 9 November 1907, no two clubs from England's biggest city had ever faced each other at the highest level before.
That all changed following our promotion to the First Division in 1907, just two years after the club was formed, guaranteeing the first two top-flight London derbies would take place during that season, when Chelsea played Woolwich Arsenal, as the Gunners were known in those days.
The honour of hosting the first fell to Stamford Bridge, as we welcomed Arsenal to SW6 in November. The tie clearly captured the fans' imagination, and was originally reported to have broken the all-time attendance record for an English football match, although the official figures later released put the number at 55,000.
That was below the 67,000 who attended Manchester United's visit to the Bridge on Good Friday the previous season, although a fixture against the Gunners would smash that record in 1935, when 82,905 watched a 1-1 draw.
While the attendance figures may have been disputed in 1907, there was no questioning who emerged as the hero on the pitch. George Hildson (below) bagged a brace to make sure the Pensioners, as we had only recently been nicknamed, would go down in the record books as the winners of the first-ever top-flight London derby.
In only the 92nd competitive fixture in Chelsea's history, the man nicknamed 'Gatling Gun' for his prolific shooting, who was also the first ever to amass 100 goals for the Blues, secured a narrow 2-1 victory, as his excellent and experienced partnership with Jimmy Windridge continued to do the business in attack. The duo would finish the 1907/08 season with 42 goals between them in all competitions.
And so we had the first of 62 wins over the Gunners so far and got off to a winning start in London derbies. The good news is, with the capital clashes coming thick and fast in the modern Premier League era, it is less than a month until we travel to the London Stadium to take on West Ham in the next one on 9 December.