Greaves’ Goodbye Gift
Chelsea 4 Nottingham Forest 3
29th April 1961
Football League Division One
Chelsea; Peter Bonetti, John Sillett, Allan Harris, Terry Venables, Mel Scott, Sylvan
Anderton, Peter Brabrook, Jimmy Greaves, Ron Tindall, Bobby Tambling, Frank Blunstone
Scorer; Greaves (4)
Manager; Ted Drake
Referee; JS Pickles
In 2010 the Chelsea youth team won the FA Youth Cup for the first time since 1961. After
that they went on to win the trophy again in 2012 and then five consecutive finals from 2014
to 2018. The club had one of the most talked about youth set ups in the world. But, despite
all the team success, there were many people concerned that none of the players were good
enough or given a chance. The last great youth team player to make a name for himself was
John Terry and he made his debut in 1998.
However, back in the 1950s the Blues relied on their youth team to provide players for the
first team. Legends such as Peter Bonetti, Ron Harris, Bobby Tambling, Ray Wilkins and
Peter Osgood played for the juniors. However, there was one player who would go on to
become a goal scoring machine at both club and international level.
Jimmy Greaves was spotted as a 15 year old and signed for Chelsea as an apprentice to
become one of Drake’s Ducklings. In the 1955-56 season he netted a total of 51 goals at
youth level. A year later he had managed to score over 100 more in Dickie Foss’ youth team.
His goal scoring exploits caught the eye of the first team manager, Ted Drake.
Greaves was given his debut on the opening day of the 1957-58 season. Chelsea took on
Tottenham at Stamford Bridge and earned a 1-1 draw. It was the young striker who scored
for the Blues on his debut at the age of 17 years and 186 days. The press had hailed his
performance and it was clear that big things were in store for Greaves.
By the time of his twentieth birthday his goal tally stood at 82 and scored his 100th goal
against Blackpool at the age of 20 years and 217 days. During his time at Chelsea he
managed to score 132 goals in just 169 games, including 13 hat tricks. In 1961, at the age of
21, he signed for Italian giants AC Milan for a fee of £80,000.
Chairman Joe Mears had agreed to sell Greaves before the end of the season and the Blues
were able to show their appreciation of their talisman by making him captain in his final
game. On the 29th of April 1961 Greaves took the armband against Nottingham Forest. It
was a day of mixed emotions for fans and player alike. The young striker didn’t really want to
leave but the club needed the money.
Chelsea took the lead in the first half through none other than Jimmy Greaves. In fact he
made it 2-0 before half time. Forest got a goal back early in the second half but Greaves
bagged his hattrick ten minutes later. The visitors did score twice more and the game was
level at 3-3. The game looked as though it would end in a draw until the referee pointed to
the spot as he awarded Chelsea a penalty. Up stepped Greaves and he shot past Peter
Grummitt to give his side a 4-3 win. His parting gift to the club was four goals in his final
game to ensure his team won.
Jimmy Greaves made his England debut whilst at Chelsea and after he left AC Milan he
joined Tottenham even though he was offered back to the Blues. In total the former youth
team star scored 357 top flight goals and a further 44 for England. He was part of England’s
World Cup winning squad and would likely to have played in the final if not for being studded in the leg by France’s Joseph Bonnel which resulted in 14 stitches, a permanent scar and no further part in the tournament. His place was taken by Geoff Hurst who famously scored a hattrick as England beat West Germany in the final. Greaves also holds the record for most England hat tricks with a total of six.