Rick Glanvill, official Chelsea historian, has read this book and commented 'This is a forensic chronicle that will add wonderfully to our understanding of this period of Chelsea history'.
'Stamford Bridge Is Falling Down' will hopefully interest Chelsea supporters who remember the decline of the club in the early 1970s, but also younger fans keen to learn more about a pivotal four years in the club’s history.
In May 1971 Chelsea were at a pinnacle. Twelve months after winning the FA Cup, they had beaten the mighty Real Madrid in a replay to win the European Cup-Winners’ Cup. Their a much admired squad mixed flair, hard work and physicality. The club had glamour and ambition, the board having started thinking about a magnificent redevelopment of Stamford Bridge. It was generally assumed that the side, managed for forward-thinking coach Dave Sexton, would challenge for honours in the years ahead.
Four years later that side had been broken up, Sexton had been sacked and, unbelievably, the team had been relegated. Worse, after the East Stand had been rebuilt, the club finances were so parlous that Chelsea FC was in real danger of going under.
How on earth did this happen? How could a club seemingly so well-run get in such a mess? How could a squad that in summer 1971 included the likes of Peter Bonetti, John Phillips, Ron Harris, Eddie McCreadie, John Dempsey, David Webb, Marvin Hinton, Paddy Mulligan, John Boyle, John Hollins, Alan Hudson, Charlie Cooke, Peter Houseman, Peter Osgood, Keith Weller, Ian Hutchinson and Tommy Baldwin fall apart so spectacularly. The purchase of the likes of Chris Garland, Steve Kember, Bill Garner and David Hay could not stop the rot, nor could the emergence of youngsters like Gary Locke, Mickey Droy, Ian Britton and Ray Wilkins.
This book explores the causes of the decline in those four seasons, causes that are many and varied. Incompetence, pig-headedness, arrogance, unprofessionalism, recklessness, bad luck, bravado, irresponsibility, stupidity, hopeless football and poor communication all played their part. Despite what were often the best of intentions, the Chelsea board, their advisers, the players and the manager all bear varying degrees of responsibility for the chaos that consumed and nearly destroyed the club.
The more research I did, and the more people I spoke to, the more it became clear that the reasons for the decline and near fall of the club in the early and mid-1970s were complex. The 200+ competitive matches Chelsea played in the four tempestuous seasons between 1971 and 1975 are covered, but the rationale of this book is to be much more than reporting the displays of a team in decline. The redevelopment of Stamford Bridge, which commenced in 1972, deprived manager Dave Sexton of the cash required to rebuild his team. Star players like Alan Hudson and Peter Osgood became disaffected, openly critical of the manager and, in the end, mutinous.
A series of problems, some self-inflicted, were to manifest themselves in declining performances, diminishing gates, disaffected players and, critically, over-ambitious and grandiose stadium redevelopment plans as club finances crumbled. Much of this was played out in the back, and occasionally front, pages of the national press. In 1970 and 1971 Chelsea made headlines because of their football and their trophies. Positive on-pitch headlines ebbed away as less than positive on- and off-pitch headlines became more prevalent.
The team declined just when the board needed it to succeed, to sparkle, to attract supporters. Instead, it became caught up in a vicious downward spiral, a perfect storm of under-achievement that culminated in relegation and near financial disaster. The matches, the personalities, the decisions, the events, the divisions and the fall-outs are all examined to identify exactly what went so wrong.
I wrote the book as a Chelsea supporter, but not one who regularly watched that side. I have been a Stamford Bridge regular since 1976, but in the early 1970s had to content myself with a few games a season. Objectivity is not always easy, especially when human failings are demonstrated, but I have attempted to utilise evidence uncovered rather than emotion aroused. A number of supporters from those days have shared vivid reminiscences with me, though the bulk of the research involved working through contemporary newspapers and magazines, as well as a host of relevant books.
I am crowdfunding a hardback version of the book, including 24 photos, an index and a slip cover. To finance that, I am raising money through Kickstarter. A single copy for the UK costs £25 (including p&p) - prices for one or two signed copies, and for different parts of the world, are listed at the right of this page. Backers will also get their names listed in the book. Please note that if you buy two copies, you can have two different names included inj the list of backers.
Update as at 22/6/19 - the £5,000 target has been reached so the hardback will definitely be produced. You can still back the book until 9th July. Money will be deducted from debit/credit cards after that date.
I have a small number of hardback copies of my first book 'Diamonds, Dynamos and Devils', and am offering a signed copy of these, together with a copy of the new book, to UK backers only, for a reduced joint price of £42.
This project blog will give further background, details on the book and information on the pledging process https://stamfordbridgeisfallingdown.wordpress.com/ .
Please email any questions to : email@example.com
Twitter : @IfdBridge
Facebook : @sbifd will take you to the Stamford Bridge Is Falling Down page
Thanks for reading, and happy pledging ....
Risks and challenges
Having struggled to bring the hardback of 'Diamonds, Dynamos and Devils' out on schedule (though we were still in good time for Christmas), I am a lot more aware of the potential for delay in book production and will hopefully take necessary steps to minimise the risk of problems. There are much shorter print lead times for this book, which should help.
The text is completed. Photos have been identified. A printer is lined up. Detailed costings have been made, so we know that receiving pledges totalling £5,000 or more will mean that the book is a goer. Publisher Mark Worrall of Gate 17 Books and I are working to timelines that, barring unforeseen circumstances, we feel are workable and realistic.
Remember, if insufficient pledges are received, no money is withdrawn from your account. If sufficient pledges are received, as we obviously hope, money will be deducted from accounts after the Kickstarter campaign closes on 9th July.
The plan is to distribute the hardback books in early autumn. Because unexpected slippage can occur in publishing projects of this type, our commitment is to get the hardback books out to backers in good time for Christmas but, hopefully, early autumn is achievable.
Backers will be kept fully informed of progress in terms of production, printing and distribution.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)