by Roy Dalley.
Jose Mourinho would probably walk out on Chelsea for a second time if ever Roman Abramovich had the temerity to present a Ford Transit as the new team bus.
Fabregas, Hazard and Oscar would no doubt get their agents to check the smallprint on their contracts, while Drogba would theatrically fall in a heap… anything to get out of travelling in something other than first class.
However, as our picture shows, it wasn’t always thus.
Once upon a time you could win the FA Cup, then the European Cup Winners’ Cup, and still have to get to work in the back of a Transit, as the Chelsea squad of the early 1970s will testify. Here they are pictured at Stamford Bridge in the shadows of the old East Stand (soon to be demolished after a third cup final in three seasons, a 1-2 defeat by Stoke in the League Cup, in 1972).
You might think it’s some kind of ruse; Osgood’s idea of a Chelsea Charabanc for a jolly boys drive dahn to Margit. Or even the prequel to that television commercial featuring England legends now reduced to playing for the local Dog and Duck XI? But no.
The Transit would in fact ferry the first-team squad to the club’s training ground in Mitcham, some five miles across the Thames in south London, a facility which was later sold to Crystal Palace when the club’s finances became perilous (not least because of the cost of replacing that old wooden stand) and a far cry from Chelsea’s new state of the art complex in the Surrey stockbroker belt.
Sadly the photograph was supplied without a caption, so it is not known when exactly it was taken and indeed who is pictured. But Hudson’s absence could provide a clue; Hudson was forced to miss the club’s first FA Cup triumph, in 1970 against Leeds, because of a broken leg. Or maybe he was still in bed with a hangover? Dunno…
Club captain Chopper Harris is also absent, perhaps making a hospital visit to one of his recent opponents..?
There’s no Dempsey either, though his habit of wearing rugby style ankle boots on matchdays meant he was possibly more likely to be found on a nearby physio table.
Anyway this ol’ Blues man thinks he can name all but one of those reporting for training that day. How about you..?
(Leaning inside driver’s door); Bonetti
(Standing l-to-r); Birchenall, Baldwin, McCreadie, Hutchinson, Webb, Cooke, Houseman.
(Crouching l-to-r); Osgood, Hinton, *?!?, Hollins.
*?!? It’s not Kember. Is it Boyle..?
Feel free to Tweet me any guesses you may have.