The First Season We Met - Wolves
For the second of these brief instalments we’ll have a look at the first meetings with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Founded in 1877 as St Luke’s F.C. the West Midlands club changed its name to Wolverhampton Wanderers in August 1879 and in 1888 became one of the founding members of the football league. Although their real glory years came during the 1950’s they have been one of Chelsea’s greatest opponents over the years with many memorable encounters between the two sides.
The first competitive game to occur took place at Molineux on 8th December 1906. Having just failed to gain promotion in their first campaign, Chelsea began the 1906-07 season as promotion favourites and from the start they rarely faltered. In front of a sparse 8,000 gate at Molineux, James Windridge put Chelsea ahead in the 12th minute and as half-time approached it looked as though the win was secured when George Hilsdon doubled the lead. Just after the restart Wolves reduced the deficit when Jack Roberts scored but the visitors held on for the two points that maintained their promotion push.
By the time the two clubs met for the first ever fixture between them at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were sitting pretty in second spot in the table. Nottingham Forest had all but wrapped up the Division 2 title, but with a four point advantage over Leicester Fosse and only three games to play Chelsea knew that a home win and a favourite result elsewhere would guarantee promotion at the second attempt.
The game at Stamford Bridge on 13th April 1907 drew a gate of 30,000 spectators and any nerves were soon settled after Jack Kirwan and James Windridge put Chelsea 2-0 up inside 20 minutes. James Windridge got his second of the game in the 65th minute, and just seconds before the end Jack Kirwan matched the feat by scoring Chelsea’s fourth goal.
News then filtered in that Leicester Fosse had been beaten 2-1 at Chesterfield, meaning Chelsea had been promoted to the big time.
By Paul Waterhouse, Bygone Chelsea 1905-99