Four months into my fifty first year, I confess I still look at most Chelsea players, past and present, with a certain hero worship more befitting a 13 year old.
But try as I might there are ten blokes who have worn our beloved royal blue shirt, and some dodgy away ones too, who, try as I might, have failed to ever warm up to.
I will put you out of your misery straight away by declaring that such is my myopia when imparting my love for the boys I blue that Robert Fleck is NOT on the list.
In chronological order of them wearing the blue shirt, the ten most unloved ones are:
- Steve Kember. When Kember arrived in September 1971 as an England under 23 international, the papers promptly assumed that getting into the great cup winning Chelsea was the last stepping stone to full England honours. Instead I went into a panic. In my eyes he was brought in to replace one of my two heroes, Johnny Hollins or Alan Hudson. The one good thing about being relegated in 1974 was that Kember was quickly shipped out to Leicester. I don’t remember if it was by land or sea.
- Kevin McAllister. After the successful first season back in the top flight in 1984, Ken Bates’s idea of strengthening the side was to go out and buy a right winger. Could it have gone unnoticed to Ken that if there was one position that couldn’t be strengthened was exactly that, given that the number seven shirt was, at that time, worn by a certain Mr. Patrick Kevin Francis Michael Nevin? McAllister came from Falkirk and was sent back there six years later. In fairness to the lad and wily old Ken, McAllister was voted Falkirk’s Player of the Millennium. Which just about says it all about Falkirk.
- Gordon Davies. Probably brought on to keep Kerry Dixon and David Speedie on their toes. I just saw him as a usurper of the best striking partnership in the First Division at the time. Thankfully he didn’t last long and was sent back down the road to Fulham after just one season. His claim to fame? He is the only player to score a hat-trick for us (vs Everton) and against us, which I guess is why we bought him in the first place.
- Kevin Wilson. Ditto as for Gordon Davies, although his record for us of 42 goals in 152 matches is not to be sniffed at. His arrival coincided with rumours that Ken Bates was considering selling Kerry Dixon, which made me detest the poor bloke from day one.
- Paul Furlong. Probably the Chelsea player featured most in video compilations entitled “Even my wheelchair bound granny would have scored from there”. Which invariably co-star Robert Fleck. There was the odd flash of “genius” in his two years at The Bridge. On closer inspection they turned out to be absolute flukes and Ruud Gullit couldn’t get rid of him fast enough when he took charge in 1996.
- Winston Bogarde. No surprise there. The one amazing stat about Bogarde is that he was signed by Ajax, AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea. The managers in charge by the way were Louis Van Gaal, twice (for Ajax and Barcelona), Fabio Capello and Gianluca Vialli. From 1994, when he joined Ajax, to 2004, when he retired from football after his Chelsea contract expired, he played an underwhelming 115 games in ten seasons. What was it about the bugger that duped four great football clubs to pay him silly wages to sit on the bench? If you take out the 62 appearances he made for Ajax, the stats read.53 games in 7 years. Does anyone out there know his agent’s number?
- Geremi. Roman’s initial spending spree was a bit like a fishing expedition using a dragnet. You pull in the lobsters, giant prawns and the crab. The catch inevitably also brings in the odd car wheel, road sign and bits and pieces of a discarded washing machine. Joe Cole was the lobster and Geremi the traffic sign. We never quite found out if he was a holding midfielder, a full back or a wide player. Having just bought Joe Cole, Damien Duff and the great Makalele, the point of why he was signed escapes me. Just as the signing of Scott Parker does, although it would never cross my mind to include Scottie in this list of infamy.
- Tiago. One of Jose’s first signings and one of the first to leave. In the odd flash here and there you could see what Jose’ saw in him. His goal at Old Trafford and Jose’s subsequent look of astonishment will stick in our minds for many years to come. His years of bench warming at Lyon and Juventus since he left us suggest he wasn’t quite as good as he thought. And he left us because he felt that his 34 appearances in a single season were not enough for a player of his talent.
- Maniche. His signing was an old pals act by Jose’ to rescue him from the cold of the Russian winter. The tubby one hardly ever played in the four months he spent at the club and when he did, he got himself sent off against West Ham for one of the most dim witted challenges ever made by a Chelsea player. Such was the love between the Portugeezers that Jose’ took him to Inter last year. As was the case in his stint with Chelsea, his main activity at the San Siro was bum warming on the Inter bench.
- Jon Obi Mikel. After the almighty battle with United to sign him, I expected big things from Mikel. But as it turned out his great talents lie in passing the ball sideways and giving away fouls on the edge of our penalty area at critical moments in the game. Perhaps I am being unkind to the lad by comparing him with Maka every time he takes to the field, but at 18 million I did expect the odd forward pass once in a while. As for shots on target them less said the better.