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The Boys From The White Stuff (1976/77)

“A blast from the past, originally posted in 2012 – Corby wrote several of these articles and I will post them up if I can locate them all, think this was the ‘second’ one – enjoy”

Season 1976-77

76-77 season saw my last year at school, a very important one as I was kept being told. I was now 15, still had the paper round, but more important on the financial front – I helped out at a local Dairy that was ran by my sisters Husband. It was just early morning weekend work, loading/unloading milk floats, but he paid me quite well, so I thought. More money simply meant more visits to SW6!

The first day of the season saw me on a family Holiday in Mablethorpe. A 1-0 win at Orient, a result I only found out on the Sunday morning when I walked down to the Caravan Park’s shop. I didn’t buy the paper –no need to, no way would there be a match report in it as we were 2nd  Division and no one cared about that, so I just looked at the scores. Luckily the caravan was booked Friday – Friday, which meant I was able to catch the Carlisle home game on the Sat. All week I counted the days to when I could get home and catch the train to London.

My previous SW6 visit was on a cold December afternoon. This visit was at the end of one of the best summers ever, August 1976. I confidently made my way to London as if I’d been visiting SW6 for years. I left very early – I didn’t want a repeat of my first ever visit when I missed the kick off. As it turned out, this time I was way too early!!! I was only 15 and no way looked old enough to get in a Pub.

I therefore hung around outside Stamford Bridge for ages watching everyone going in the Rising Sun and other Pubs. Skinheads with their red braces, Denim jackets and high top Doc Marts, the odd Mod in a fishtail parka, and a few of these ‘things’ my brother had seen get a hiding the previous season. They were ‘Punks’. They wore clothes that seemed like Oxfam rejects, ripped everywhere. I laughed at some of the hair styles.

Some of the girls Punks were more interesting, jet black hair, ripped t-shirts revealing black bra’s, tartan mini skirts with coloured Doc Marts. Well worth following up the Kings Road…! I’d watch as these ‘things’ would wander from Fulham Broadway up towards the Kings Rd until it was time to go in the Shed. A 2-1 win and I was happy. Until the following Bank Holiday Monday that is….

The Notting Hill carnival had erupted into a riot, Mum had seen it on TV and banned me from going to London. “Notting Hills the other side of London to Chelsea” I’d pathetically plead.  The reply that came back went something like “I was born and raised in London, I know where’s where and who’s who – you’re NOT going, final!”

The following Saturday we lost 3-0 at mum’s team, Millwall. The papers/TV were full of pictures of us and Millwall fans “exchanging friendship scarves’ That fracas certainly didn’t help my ’banned from London’ case. A couple of weeks later the gutter Press had got bored with the inquest into the NHC, both sides –Police & organisers- had started blaming each other and the Millwall game was long forgotten about, in the papers anyway. Not in my memory though.

I must have caught Mum on a good day, for I casually said I was thinking of going to the home game v Cardiff at the start of October. Off I went, and another fine 2-1 win. Before the game, “trouble” with the Welsh erupted on Fulham Broadway when I got off the tube. This was the first time I’d actually seen violence, apart from on TV. In what seemed like hours but was probably only 3 minutes, 50 or so loud mouthed Cardiff  lads were chased along the platform and ‘dealt with’ by the hordes of Chelsea.

Hopefully this incident wouldn’t get the coverage that the Millwall game had got. I even spent some of the game looking towards the North Stand, hoping there wouldn’t be a ‘Palace’ type of outbreak of trouble up there. Mum didn’t seem bothered if I was off to Chelsea, it was my hard earned money and I was out of the way for the day!

The Southampton home game in late October that year saw my first visit to the posh seats. I was rich, ish, I could easily afford a £1.00 seat in the East lower, no problem thanks to the white stuff from the cows. 3 weeks or so before the game, I sat in an English class and knocked up a letter asking for tickets. At dinner time I sneaked out of School, ran down to the Post Office, and bought the postal orders. Sent on the Monday, Postman Plod delivered them on the Wednesday.

I proudly took them to school club on the Thursday “to impress” my mates.

Me and my mate proudly wore our perfectly(!) ironed Chelsea ‘silk’ scarves to School Club. You couldn’t buy them in Corby, we’d got them at the Cardiff game. We used to wear them ‘skinhead’ style, down the side of the trouser. We felt we were cool/hard as fark, drinking still Orange, eating beef crisps, and watching the girls dance. Our requests for Punk were frowned on by the 6th form DJ. Instead we were treated to watching the lovely Cheryl or whoever dance to Leo frigging Sayer or the Bay shitty Rollers. Still see that DJ twat around Corby now, one day I’ll lump him one.

The Southampton team were fresh from winning the FA Cup, but sadly Peter Osgood didn’t play for them that day. I wanted to see him as I’d missed his Chelsea years. 42,654 saw a brilliant 3-1 Chelsea win. We were top of the league, well Division 2 anyway.  4 points clear of Blackpool with a game in hand as well. A great feeling in the playground on the Monday morning.

Richard at the Dairy was a Northampton season ticket holder, but had a bit of a soft spot for Chelsea, probably only because we were ‘working’ for him. He mentioned about going to Nottingham Forest v Chelsea… an away game…would Mum mind? I shouldn’t have worried, “It’s OK,  Richard’s going – he’ll look after you.”. Her blue eyed boy, the Doris Day of the son-in law world.

Mum should’ve been worried, for just as we got out of Corby we nearly drove into The Rockingham Forest hunt. Dozens of hounds and horses on the road, chasing an obviously guilty fox. The previous Christmas a local hunt had turned into violence when protestors and riders clashed. Fearing the worse, I slid down into my seat, closed my eyes and wished I could be safely in Nottingham. 

I opened my eyes and the ‘safety’ of Nottingham was there in front of me. Blue flashing lights. Trent Bridge was a battle ground as Chelsea and Forest fought running battles in and out of the cars, one of them was ours. Total chaos ensued outside the ground, so Richard therefore decided to take sanctuary in the Stand seats.

Walking around the ground, fighting was going on everywhere. Chelsea v Police. Police v Forest. Chelsea v Forest. The Police didn’t seem to have a clue. Even on the banks of the cold River Trent, we worryingly laughed as a few Forest lads went for an enforced swim.

Inside the ground was worse than outside, for as we took our seats, 100’s of Chelsea had gone and taken the ‘home’ Trent End. Forest fans fled onto the pitch as more and more Chelsea appeared on their terracing. The Police tried to remove the Chelsea, but to no avail. By kick off time the Trent End was a mass of Chelsea singing “we took the Trent End, we took the Trent End, we took the Trent End, NOTTINGHAM!!!”

A vicious fight then started on the terracing right in front of our seats, we were in the second row and had a clear view as 20 or so Chelsea kicked and fought their way through the East Stand enclosure and down onto the pitch. This is bound to make the TV/papers, and with Richard being there, Mum was bound to hear about it. Was another London ban to come? I don’t think she ever mentioned it, though it was in the papers and on ATV on the Monday evening local news. Maybe she was getting used to me coming home in one bit.

Exciting day for a 15 year old, Chelsea get the better of Forest on the terracing whilst the main thing – the game- finished in a 1-1 draw thanks to Ian Britton’s goal. We were still top, things were great.

2 weeks later was the School Club Christmas disco. Friday, 3rd December 1976. That date is etched in my mind forever. It was just like any other School Disco, the boys would turn up with their ‘silk’ scarves, whilst the girls turned up with the bra’s and cotton wool. Chelsea were away at Sheff Utd that night, the game had been moved because Sheff Wed were at home on the Saturday. The wonderfully efficient Yorkshire Police couldn’t cope with 2 games on the same day.

While we stood there watching the girls, our thoughts were at Bramall  Lane. At about 9-15 I said to Raz that I was nipping home to get the score and I’d be back in 15mins. I lived nearest to the school out of the 2 of us, so I ran through the estate like Ian Britton would through a defence. Sort of. I got home and put the BBC1 news on. At the end of the programme, they always gave that nights results. Sheff Utd 1 Chelsea 0. Fark!!

Back through the estate to the school, and into the Disco… NOT! The fascist 6th formers on the door wouldn’t let me back in. I pleaded with them but they were not having it. “tough shit four eyes, you’re not coming in…” They even took the piss when I said the score. They were probably Man Utd, Liverpool or worse still, Leeds. I resigned myself to sitting by the School fishpond, throwing gravel at the fish while waiting for Raz to come out. Simon and Garfunkels ‘bridge over troubled water’ was always the last record at school disco’s, and when that came on, out came Raz. I told him we’d lost 1-0 and what had happened with the 6th formers. Wankers. Off we walked up to the Chippy.

2 weeks later we witnessed an amazing 3-3 draw with Wolves. With 10mins to go and losing 3-1, we considered leaving. This was going to be the first time I’d actually seen Chelsea lose, my previous 7 appearances were 4 wins and 3 draws. Within a blink of an eye it was 3-3. What an atmosphere that afternoon. Thanks Steve Finnieston, you kept my unbeaten record intact!

In between the Wolves game and my next SW6 visit for the Orient game in late January, Chelsea had had an amazing 55,003 for the Boxing Day visit of Fulham. Their side that day included such household names as Bobby Moore, George Best and…err ummm err John Evanson. Luton then beat us 4-0 with the customary demolishing  of the ground/town/trains. ‘Anyone caught will be banned’….zzzz zzzz

The FA Cup 3rd round saw a 1-1 draw at Peter Osgoods Dell. For me and Raz, that was out of reach due to the financial hammering of Christmas. We therefore decided our football fix at another 3rd round game, nearby Kettering v Colchester. Thankfully Colchester won 3-2, but even better was that on the little blue radio I’d got for Christmas, we managed to learn that we’d earned a 1-1 draw.

In my 15 year old world, a draw at their place meant an easy win at our place. Simple. I sat at home the following Wednesday and listened as Radio 2 bought me into the real world. We lost 3-0 after extra time. More verbal abuse in the playground, I stood away from the numbers.

Millwall. 12 February 1977. Stamford Bridge. At the Orient game a few weeks earlier I’d heard some lad saying that “Millwall were coming in the Shed….everyone needs to get in there early… its revenge time for the September away game..” Corby Chelsea were growing by then, I think 4, maybe 5 of us went. Whatever happened to Mumfy?

We must have been in the ground at 1pm. I can recall standing at the top of the Shed steps and seeing all sorts of goings on out on the Fulham Rd. The Police were struggling to close the massive old wooden gates, against a flow of people trying to get in. A few Millwall did get in the Shed that day, but were quickly dealt with by the ‘big’ boys of the Whitewall and the middle who chased them out onto the pitch. This was the first time I’d witness serious “trouble” inside Stamford Bridge. I chose to watch from my normal place up by the west. 34,857 watched a 1-1 draw, and I still hadn’t seen us lose.

Life was great, money wasn’t a problem, I made the decision to get to every home game for the rest of the season. 3 consecutive 2-2 draws with Plymouth, Bolton (away) and Blackpool made me wonder if Chelsea were going to slip up in the hunt for promotion. The seeds of doubting Chelsea were being sown.

That was forgotten about 3 days after my 16th birthday in March when we beat the mighty Bristol Rovs 2-0. We treated ourselves to a seat in the East Upper. The ticket price structure for that part of the ground was a little bit crazy. For £1 you could buy an ‘Upper rear wing’ seat. For £2 (way too much, I wasn’t that rich!) you could buy an ‘Upper front centre’ seat. What was stop anyone buying a £1 seat and sitting in a £2 seat? From my normal place in the Shed, the East Upper always seemed to have loads of empty seats.

This was our first time in the East Upper, so we bought some Oxygen and started to climb the bland stairways up into the clouds. We took our actual seats, and watched as the ground, and more importantly the East Upper, start to fill up. There were a couple of old men with armbands who pointed to where your seats were. They were not a problem when we made our move to our new ‘not paid for’ front centre seats. What was a problem were the two geezers who had came in late, and we were sitting in their Season Ticket seats. From row 5 to row 25 in 3.2 seconds, our tails between our legs! Good idea at the time. Lets stick to the Shed in future.

The visit of Luton bought possibly the funniest headlines I’ve ever seen in a newspaper. The press, I learnt from an early age, were simply old men who had failed their basic CSE English, and were quite happy to make stories up just to sell their rags. 30 years on I still believe that’s true. I can’t recall the actual headline, but something like ‘TIME FOR REVENGE’ springs to mind. Basically it was a story about 3,000 Luton hooligans who were heading to SW6 to ‘smash the place and a few people up’…  Apparently they were fed up of us doing that to them whenever we visited Luton, the time had come to stand up to the ‘yobs’.

Our southbound train pulled into Luton. On got Mr & Mrs Patel, their 19 sons and 14 daughters. A couple of students as well. Where were the 3,000? Unbelievable. Even when we got to SW6 I felt there was more than the normal amount of Plod about. Had they over reacted to some bullshit story made up by some drunk old hack in Fleet St? Just under 32,000 watched a 2-0 win, with less than 500 Luton braving the North Stand.

Strangely 4 out of the 5 Saturdays in April of that season gave us home games. Wouldn’t we like that pleasure nowadays! Blackburn, Luton, Forest and Sheff Utd were the visitors, and they all bit the dust with defeats. Wilkins – Butch – scored a brilliant goal from some 30 yards in the Sheff Utd 4-0 victory, still one of the best goals I’ve ever seen.  In between those games we’d lost at Fulham, Charlton & Burnley. Charlton saw serious trouble, though it seemed to be more vandalism than violence.

Wolves away was next, it was all ticket with only very few allocated to Chelsea. “if you have not got a ticket –don’t go, Chelsea fans are banned… zzz zzz  So I wrote to Wolves asking for 4 tickets, saying we lived in the Midlands, we didn’t support Chelsea, blah blah blah. On the Friday before the game I ran home at dinner time to see if they’d arrived. In those days it was a rare thing for me to receive a letter, but when I saw the stamped envelope I’d sent a week ago, my heart stopped. On opening it I saw 4 tickets for the game, and let out a scream! YESSSSSSSSS!! A result!

Saturday morning saw us jump into Richards car and head to Wolves. Even when we got on the M6 you could tell there were going to be loads of Chelsea at the game. Car after car had scarves out the windows. I put mine out. We pulled up near a park, got out, and walked towards Molyneux. Chelsea were everywhere, so much for the ban!

In the ground a row of Plod kept the two sets of fans apart. There was the odd scuffle now and again, but when Langley put us 1-0 up all hell broke loose. Not Wolves trying to get at us, but some of Chelsea’s finest decided to invade the Wolves part of the South Bank. How come a terracing can be so packed that you cant move, yet when a fight starts a massive gap would appear? I missed a good 10 minutes of the game while watching Plod trying to sort it out. It finished 1-1, a late equaliser meant Wolves were Division 2 Champions, but better than that, it meant we were promoted back to the promised land, Division 1.

When the whistle went both sets of fans invaded the pitch, and we followed. I cannot not recall any fighting on the pitch, though there must have been. Outside the ground was a different matter. Running battles were going on everywhere as we made our way to the car. Plod had lost control. We came across one poor Chelsea lad who had been handcuffed to a fence rail and left to the mercy of the baying Wolves(!) The copper who had cuffed him had farked off. An ever growing group of Chelsea had realised this, and decided to stay and protect him. Imagine what could’ve happened to him if a load of Wolves had found him? Hopefully that caring Officer is now in a  OAP home sitting in his own piss, whilst boring everyone of how well he served the community. What a complete tosser.

On the same day as the Wolves game, Tottenham lost 5-0 at Maine Rd, Man City. That meant they were relegated and we were promoted. What could be better?

Sadly, my 18 match unbeaten run came to an end on the Wednesday after the Wolves game. We lost 3-0 in Alan Wooletts testimonial at Leicester. Unlike my first Chelsea game, this time I was allowed in the away end at Filbert St… with about another 500 Chelsea who made up the 7,000 crowd. I’d tasted defeat for the first time, and didn’t like it, as some of my closest friends were Leicester fans.

Saturday came, Hull City at home. We were already promoted, it was party time. 43,718 seemed to spend more time on the pitch than the players. Invasion after invasion meant the players kept going off. At one point Eddie McCreadie had grabbed the PA mic and said that the Ref was going to abandon the game. “Please keep off the pitch…” What did he expect when Finnieston rattled in his hat trick in a 4-0 win…?

Eddie McCreadies blue and white army were back in the big boys league. A young squad, most who had come up from the Juniors were being touted as doing well next season. They were all heroes in my eyes, over the years I’d seen their names progress through the appearances columns in the programmes, from SE Counties Div 2, SE Counties Div 1, Football Combination (what a great name!) Division 2 and now they were to get Division 1 added.

Eddie certainly knew how to get the best from the players, and went to see Herr Brian Mears about his reward for promotion. “There’s a garage down the road, see me Monday” Eddie didn’t get his well deserved Division 1 managerial career, or indeed his car. All he got was a one way ticket to the USA.

From the 15p programme…

If you paid up front for the first six home games, you got the seventh for free…

You could get in for free at all home games, if you were prepared to stay behind for ‘a few hours’ and sweep the terraces and generally clean the ground…

Ron Harris played for the reserves in the morning and then in the afternoon played the second half in the 3-0 defeat at Millwall…

A woollen bar scarf in the Club shop was £1.30, whilst a “satin style” one was 57p…

Chelsea’s ‘true’ (according to the Club) supporters chipped in and gave British Rail £27 towards the cost of a replacing a broken window on the special  to Blackpool…

The Damned had a half page advert for their latest single, New Rose…

BBC’s “It’s a knockout” was recorded from Stamford Bridge on 26 June…

RIP…
Nils Middelboe (1913-1921, 46 apps)
Peter Houseman (1962-75, 343apps)

SHED…80p (40p juveniles)
WEST… centre – £1.20, wings – £1.00
EAST…middle centre £2.50, middle wings – £2.00
          …upper front centre – £2.00, upper front wings – £1.75
          …upper rear centre – £1.50, upper rear wings – £1.00
          …lower centre – £1.20, lower wings – £1.00
          ‘benches’ transfer – 20p

Posted by Corby

DISCLAIMER: All articles written for the Chelsea Supporters Group 2005 (CSG) are those of the author and do not represent the views of the CSG. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited in the article. The CSG do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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Discussion

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  1. Great memories! Reading this on the evening before I return to Wolves again for the first time since THAT game in 1977. Looking forward to it!

    Posted by Lawry Price | February 17, 2017, 7:31 pm

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