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Club history

1930s Summary

The 1932-33 Chelsea Squad

David Calderhead (1907-33)
Leslie Knighton (1933-39)
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This was a contrasting decade of enduring milestones but no silverware; of many social landmarks but little genuine change.

The end of David Calderhead’s long reign as secretary-manager – at 26 years the longest in our history – came to its mediocre conclusion in June 1933. He created the Chelsea blueprint for investing in crowd-pleasing talent from wherever it might hail, and on 26 December 1930 fielded a team of eight internationals from across the British Isles. 

He had achieved stability and popularity yet the closest he had come to bringing trophies to the Bridge – now with its roof over the Fulham Road End, dubbed ‘the Shed’ – had been the FA Cup way back in 1915 when we were beaten finalists.  

New man Leslie Knighton again trawled for talent, notably and successfully across the Irish Sea to maintain the magnetism of Stamford Bridge. 

It worked. ‘Mighty throngs have often been associated with the Chelsea ground at Stamford Bridge since the club was formed,’ said the Guardian: marvelling at an extraordinary new English attendance record of 82,905 set at the Bridge in October 1935.

Despite the stars and the crowds, consistency and success still proved so elusive that a variety artiste, Norman Long, captured the popular view of the Pensioners with his satire about the earth turning on its head when the club finally win the cup. 

The sudden loss of three experienced board members in quick succession was another setback to progress, though the arrival of third-generation director Joe Mears would eventually have a hugely positive influence in the boardroom.

The Pensioners also reached out to the world even more, reaching the final of the prestigious 1937 Paris Expo tournament, a forerunner of the European Cup. The club’s first black reserve player, British-Jamaican forward Fred Hanley, was signed in 1938. 

Knighton came no closer to meeting the board’s title ambitions, though, and in 1939 he made way for Billy Birrell, a Scot with the vision to revolutionise the nurturing of young footballers at Chelsea. Hitler and Germany had other ideas, and the project was put on hold for six years as Britain was again plunged into war. 


Spirit Of The Age

The new television licence fee is priced at 10 shillings. Not everyone trusts the revolutionary new ‘tube of wisdom’: one letter to the Postmaster General claims TV will make it possible for snoopers to see what is going on in viewers’ living rooms.

Key Players

Alec Jackson takes a shot, 1930

Hughie Gallacher (1930-34)
George Mills (1929-43)
Vic Woodley (1931-39)

Key Matches : 1930s



1930s Matchday Programme Cover

Players of the 1930s

Player Years Total Apps Total Goals
ALEXANDER, David1939-4510
ALLUM, Leonard1932-391022
ARGUE, Jimmy1933-4712535
BAMBRICK, Joe1934-386638
BARBER, George1930-412941
BARKAS, Ned1937-39280
BARRACLOUGH, William1934-378111
BIDEWELL, Sidney1937-4642
BISHOP, Sid1928-331096
BUCHANAN, Peter1936-46406
BURGESS, Harry1935-4215538
CARR, John1928-3110
CARTER, Robert1929-33181
CHEYNE, Alec1930-32 & 1934-366913
CHITTY, Wilf1931-384517
COPELAND, James1932-3721
CRAIG, Allan1933-392110
CRAWFORD, Jackie1923-3430827
DONALD, Alexander1930-32240
DUDLEY, Sam1932-3410
ELLIOT, Sidney1928-30309
FERGUSON, Chris1927-3010
FERGUSON, Willie1921-3329412
FOSS, Dick1936-52483
GALLACHER, Hughie1930-3414481
GIBSON, George1933-3814223
GREGG, Bob1933-38516
GRIFFITHS. Robert1931-41450
HANSON, Alf1938-46439
HIGGS, Frank1928-3020
HOPE, James1930-3210
HORTON, Jack1933-376615
HUTCHESON, John1934-38221
IRVING, Sam1928-32975
JACKSON, Alex1930-327730
JACKSON, John1933-42510
JACKSON, William1928-31266
LAW, Tommy1925-3931819
MACAULAY, Bob1932-36741
MACINTOSH, Stanley1930-3610
MAYES, Arnold1935-46130
McKENNA, Peter1924-31660
MEREDITH, John1928-30236
MILLER, Harold1923-3936544
MILLINGTON, Sam1926-322450
MILLS, George1929-43239125
MITCHELL, Billy1933-451183
O’DOWD, Peter1931-34860
O’HARE, John1932-411080
OAKTON, Eric1932-3711230
ODELL, Leslie1924-361037
PAYNE, Joe1938-464722
PEARSON, George1926-3321536
PRIESTLEY, Tom1933-34272
PROUT, Stanley1932-34173
RANKIN, John1930-34669
REID, Ernest1937-3910
RODGER, George1924-311222
RUSSELL, Willie1927-361606
SALMOND, Bob1938-45290
SHERBORNE, Jack1936-4450
SMALE, Douglas1937-4590
SMITH, Arthur1938-45490
SMITH, George1921-323700
SPENCE, Dick1934-5024666
TENNANT, Albert1934-5380
THAIN, Albert1922-3115351
TOWNROW, Jack1927-321403
WEAVER, Reg1929-32208
WEAVER, Sam1936-451254
WHITE, Alex1937-48180
WILSON, Andy1923-3125361
WOODLEY, Vic1931-452720

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