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A missing piece of Chelsea history is discovered

Phil Carter of Bygone Chelsea 1905-1999 explains how a missing piece of Chelsea’s history was discovered.

On the afternoon of 23rd August 2021, history was made at Chelsea Football Club. However, you didn’t read about it in the newspapers, and it derived from those unknown, unseen supporters who delve away in long lost archives. Bygone Chelsea 1905-1999, an online Facebook group, have quite a few of these researchers, who now and again, come up with something never before seen. What you are about to read is probably THE most historic discovery connected to Chelsea FC ever made. To date.

The background goes like this. I, one of the Admin team, discovered a previously unknown photo of an ex player, Edward Tye, and posted the photo on the site. Underneath, in the comments, another Admin, Paul Waterhouse, commented that it would be nice to “discover” a photo of the 1906-07 squad, which had never, ever, been seen by any known Chelsea historian, (legends Albert Sewell, Ron Hockings and Scott Cheshire included.) Had those 2 things above not happened, then what happened next, would not have happened either. For, upon reading Paul’s words, at that very moment, member Andrew Rowley looked around and behind him, on his wall at home, was a squad photo with 1906-07 written underneath it. He rang me, immediately.

He and I went through every name and every person on the photo. Because a certain set of circumstances had to be checked as we spoke.

One ex-player, Willie Foulke, was NOT in the photo. Excellent. That meant that it was post 1905-06 season. This was confirmed by a couple of players starting in 1906-07 season, George Hilsdon being one, WERE in the photo. J. T. Robertson, player/manager/Secretary was not in the photo. Neither was his replacement, William Lewis.

It meant the photo must have been taken some time after the start of the 1906-07 season. This means the photo had been taken in a hurry, after J. T. Robertson suddenly resigned and before William Lewis was officially appointed.

Everything added up. It was a eureka moment.

I then quietly informed Andrew that he is staring at a piece of incredible history. Andrew had no idea at all what had been hanging on his wall for a few years. Not surprisingly, he started shaking.

I quote him verbatim."I can't remember exactly when I got it, nor from where. Must be over 20 years ago. Until a few years ago it's been up in my loft...."

As the famous lines go... "you couldn't make this up" "hiding in plain sight" "it's behind you!" and discovering "the lesser watch..."All those came to mind.

This find, is at the absolute pinnacle of historical finds. It creates, and completes, history. It is the ONLY team squad photo that has never been seen. (One is printed every season, without fail.) After decades and decades of searching, it was mused that it actually didn't exist. By many.

Additionally, that it was generously and immediately presented to the world, on Bygone Chelsea 1905-1999, was an immense honour for our site. For now, Bygone Chelsea 1905-1999, has just written itself into the history of Chelsea Football Club.


We, the Admin team, quickly convened, and with total delight, announced, that Andrew Rowley be awarded the title of Honorary Life Member of Bygone Chelsea 1905-1999

Andrew became the 3rd very deserved recipient of the award, in his case, for his outstanding contribution to the true history of Chelsea FC on this site. We also feel it is fitting we award this honour in recognition of something truly amazing and quite incredible. He joins members John Boyle, ex player, and Terry Partleton, loyal supporter for over 70 years.

Herewith a copy of that famous photo. Historically hunted by all and sundry for at least 70 years that we know of, since Albert Sewell started at Chelsea and became historian. (According to his son, Dave, another member, it was the "crock of gold" his Dad had hoped to see, but never did).

We hope you enjoy a touch of real history. Created by Chelsea, found by a fan and presented to you all.

Phil Carter

Chelsea 1906-07
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