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Drake's Fluctuating Fortunes, 1952-61

By Gary Watton
March 12 2014

Arsenal legend Ted Drake was handed the poisoned chalice of Chelsea manager. Ted later said: "I had the feeling that they were very cup-minded. I said of course I'd like to win the cup, but I'd dearly love to win the league. And they gave me the impression they had no chance." Well, the elusive league was won, but Chelsea slipped backwards thereafter, propped up by the prolific Jimmy Greaves.

1952-53: Chelsea finished nineteenth in Division One. The team only won once in their first five fixtures. They also had three FA Cup replays with West Brom!

Best result: CHELSEA 3 Manchester City 1 (Again, Chelsea defied the drop with a last-match triumph. John Harris scored a crucial penalty to open the scoring.)

Horrible result: Manchester City 4 CHELSEA 0 (Alan Dicks had an unhappy debut as the home team scored twice in each half to record a comfortable victory.)


1953-54: Chelsea finished eighth. This improving team won only three of their first fifteen fixtures but recovered well to finish narrowly inside the top ten.)

Best result: CHELSEA 5 West Bromwich Albion 0 (Five different goalscorers lit up this midweek outing. This avenged a recent FA Cup defeat by the Baggies.)

Horrible result: Wolverhampton Wanderers 8 CHELSEA 1 (A Hancocks hat trick helped Wolves to demolish Chelsea. Wolves would go on to win the league.)


1954-55: CHELSEA WERE CHAMPIONS! Fourth-placed Sunderland lost fewer fixtures and five teams lost fewer matches at home, but it did not matter!

Best result: Bolton Wanderers 2 CHELSEA 5 ( A Roy Bentley double helped Chelsea to an important win in this New Year's Day outing.)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 0 Everton 2 (When the hosts conceded two first-half goals to the Toffees, they did not look like Championship-winning material.)


1955-56: Chelsea finished sixteenth. The champions only won once in their first nine outings. There would be no repeat championship this season!

Best result: Aston Villa 1 CHELSEA 4 (The away team came from behind, with Les Stubbs recording their first and last goals.)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 1 Portsmouth 5 (The amateur striker Seamus O'Connell netted a late consolation, but Portsmouth were already out of sight.)


1956-57: Chelsea finished twelfth. The team won only three of their first fifteen matches, but finished with three wins out of four.

Best result: Luton Town 0 CHELSEA 4 (Jim Lewis and then Ron Tindall both scored in the first ten minutes and did likewise in the last ten minutes!)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 0 Sunderland 2 (A goal in each half condemned Chelsea to another depressing home defeat.)


1957-58: Chelsea finished eleventh. The team only won once in their first six matches but finished unbeaten in their last seven skirmishes.

Best result: CHELSEA 6 Burnley 1 (Tony Nicholas scored at the start of each half as Chelsea made light work of Burnley. They led 3-0 at the interval.)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 1 Blackpool 4 (Jimmy Greaves scored early in the second half, but then the Lancashire team replied with four goals of their own.)


1958-59: Chelsea finished fourteenth. Their position would have been considerably lower, but for Jimmy Greaves who scored 32 goals in 42 league matches.

Best result: Blackburn Rovers 0 CHELSEA 3 (Peter Sillett helped himself to a double as Chelsea won comfortably in this Christmas Day encounter.)

Horrible result: Bolton Wanderers 6 CHELSEA 0 (A Hill treble helped to annihilate struggling Chelsea. Our unfortunate goalkeeper was Reg Matthews.)


1959-60: Chelsea finished eighteenth. The team conceded more goals at home than any other club, a massive fifty goals from 21 home matches.

Best result: Arsenal 1 CHELSEA 4 (A double from Peter Brabrook provided Chelsea with a 2-0 interval lead. Tommy Docherty was playing for Arsenal.)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 0 Sheffield Wednesday 4 (Fantham scored once in each half as the Owls netted twice in each half in this easy victory.)


1960-61: Chelsea finished twelfth. Jimmy Greaves scored forty-one goals in forty-two league matches, but then left for Italy at the end of the season.

Best result: Newcastle United 1 CHELSEA 6 (According to the records, this match was scoreless at half time! Well, Greaves scored four times in this rout.)

Horrible result: CHELSEA 2 Burnley 6 (Greaves opened the scoring and Brabrook levelled the match at 2-2, before Burnley cut loose. Robson netted a treble.)

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Drake's Fluctuating Fortunes, 1952-61
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