Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Season by Season: 1927/28

Continuing Chelsea's mid-Twenties tradition in the Second Division of great quality everywhere on the pitch except in front of goal, 1927/28 saw David Calderhead's side finish a tantalising third. Again.

Three points behind promoted Leeds, whose defensive record was inferior but who, pointedly, scored 23 goals more.

Who was to blame for this persistent lack of poke? The board might be cited for failing to replace the likes of Whittingham and Cock with players of similar quality.
Equally, manager Calderhead, now in his twentieth season at the Bridge, was unable to convince his paymasters to speculate to accumulate.

'The Sphinx' had always shown them loyalty; perhaps a little more bullishness would have been useful.

Nevertheless, two players deserve special mention. Firstly the great full-back Tommy Law, Stamford Bridge's adopted Glaswegian, who would only play twice for his country, both against England.

Tommy made his international debut on 31 March 1928 as one of the famous 'Wembley Wizards' who took a dismal England team apart 5-1. (Chelsea bought two more Wizards, Gallacher and Jackson, a few years later.) It would have been interesting to hear the banter in Chelsea’s dressing room after that show of gratitude to his adoptive country.
"The Scots prefer heavy turf to light ground because it makes all the difference to the harmony of their ball control and jugglery,” Sporting Chronicle’s timeless excuse for an English defeat – the pitch
Secondly, Jimmy Thompson (pictured) arrived from Luton Town. A winger converted to centre-forward at Stamford Bridge, he netted in his opening three matches and weighed in with a third of the team's 75 goals scored in this, his first season. His playing career at the Bridge unfortunately lasted just one more campaign, allegedly after an argument over money.

But he was to make an immeasurable contribution in his post-war role back at the Bridge as chief scout.
A big, loud east-ender with slick, centre-parted hair and false teeth that would slipped disarmingly during his frequent, hearty laughs, Jimmy became one of the great Chelsea characters in the 1950s and Sixties.

He was unorthodox in his recruitment method to say the least, playfully building up the espionage element of his job, taking promising kids from his neighbourhood on trips to the seaside and suddenly hustling them into a doorway because “The Spurs scout’s coming!”

Thompson was also incredibly persistent and persuasive, winning the signature of a string of great players, including Jimmy Greaves, Barry Bridges and Terry Venables, from his boyhood streets and from under the noses of West Ham and Tottenham.
Few have played such a vital, undersung part in the history of our club, and it all started in 1927.

In 1927/28...

Gratuitous fact: Tottenham are relegated from Division One.

Cup run: First round, losing to Wolves.

All the rage: flying solo – lonely Charles Lindbergh crosses the Atlantic for the first time.

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