No other side have spent longer in the top tier of English football than Everton FC, who were founder members of the football league in 1888. Chelsea therefore had to wait until gaining promotion to the top tier in 1907/08 before meeting the Toffees. Everton’s first visit to Stamford Bridge came in late October of 1907. At the time, Everton sat third in the table, while Chelsea were anchored to the foot of the old first Division having won just won game out of eight. Chelsea managed to bag their second top flight victory with a 2-1 win in front of 50,000 fans. By the time of Chelsea’s first visit to Goodison Park, Everton had sunk to eleventh position, ahead of Chelsea in thirteenth place on goal average.
On April Fools’ Day 1908, Chelsea made fools of the Toffees with a 3-0 win secured by a hat-trick from George Hilsdon. The first Cup tie between the two sides occurred in late March 1915, in the FA Cup Semi Final played at Villa Park. Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners to secure their first ever appearance in the final, which took place at Old Trafford the following month and subsequently became known as the ‘Kharki’ Cup Final, due to the presence of thousands of soldiers in the stands, due to the ongoing First World War. The game had been played at Old Trafford due to the traditional venue for the FA Cup Final at that time - Crystal Palace Park in Sydenham - being commandeered by the Ministry of Defence for the war effort. Chelsea went on to lose the final 0-3 to Sheffield United.
Two days after the final, Chelsea were scheduled to visit Goodison Park to meet Everton in the League, which had been the West London side’s penultimate fixture before competitive football halted completely for the rest of the hostilities. For Everton, this was their final fixture. The Everton players had no game the previous Saturday and took in the FA Cup Final at Old Trafford. The Toffees sat atop of the old First Division on goal average by 0.39 of a goal, over fellow Lancastrian side Oldham Athletic who lost 0-2 to Liverpool the previous Saturday. Therefore, only a freak result in Chelsea’s favour could now deny Everton the title.
A reporter for Liverpool’s Evening Express stated in print that after the FA Cup Final he had imparted to the Everton players the good news, in that: ‘I came across (Everton trainer) Jack Elliott and the Everton players in the vicinity of the Old Trafford ground. They were waiting for taxi-cabs to take them to town, and the popular trainer was rather irritated over the delay, and he was saying things about taxis in general. However, I got hold of his arm and asked him if he had heard anything about Liverpool. He said he had heard nothing at all. When I told him that Liverpool had beaten Oldham the taxi-cabs were forgotten and the players crowded round to make sure that they had won the championship’.
Chelsea in contrast were battling relegation, sitting eighteenth after four defeats in five games and on level points with Man United and Spurs beneath them on goal average. Chelsea took the lead on nine minutes with a goal from Harold Brittain, which they held until twenty minutes from time when Everton equalised with a solo goal from Tommy Fleetwood. Twelve minutes from time, Tom Logan put Chelsea 2-1 up from the penalty spot however almost instantly Everton pulled level with a goal from Bobby Parker. The Liverpool Echo described that: ‘Parker hooked the ball into the net in an amazing manner. The pace imparted to the ball was simply astounding, because the ball was high up when Parker got his boot to it. One of the best goals of the season’.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw, which ensured that there would be clear daylight between Everton and Oldham Athletic in second place. That same evening, Man United pulled themselves above Chelsea with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford, meaning that Chelsea’s final game of the season with a Notts County side on level points would be effectively seen as a play off to remain in the top flight. Chelsea crashed to a 0-2 defeat which initially saw them relegated. However the fallout from a match fixing scandal involving Man United against Liverpool (the Mancs finishing just above Chelsea in the relegation zone), as well as the expansion of the top tier to twenty two sides when Football resumed in 1919, meant that Chelsea kept their place in the old Division One.
When competitive football resumed after the First World War in Late August 1919, on the opening day Chelsea visited Everton at Goodison Park. Chelsea left with both points after a 3-2 win. One week later back at Stamford Bridge, Everton stole the points with a 1-0 victory. The War had disrupted Everton’s momentum and another title would not be forthcoming until 1927/28, by which time Chelsea had dropped into the Second tier after finishing second from bottom in 1923/24. The two sides met in the FA Cup third round in January 1929. The West London side ran out 2-0 winners in front of a 61,316 crowd at Stamford Bridge. This Cup upset would be the earliest footage captured of this fixture available on the internet’s video sharing websites.
Chelsea returned to the top flight after securing promotion as second tier runners up in 1929/30, however Everton would be heading in the opposite direction that same season after finishing rock bottom of the old First Division (the first time the Toffees would face the drop during their history). Everton returned as Second tier Champions after just one season and took by the old First Division by storm on their return in 1931/32. By the time of Chelsea’s visit to Goodison Park in mid-November 1931, Everton sat top of the table by two clear points with a game in hand. Chelsea on the other hand languished in nineteenth place.
The Toffees thumped Chelsea 7-2 with five goals for the Everton’s legendary forward Dixie Dean (which included a hat-trick of headers inside ten minutes, a feat never since repeated!). The Liverpool Post and Mercury Newspaper claimed that: ‘Saturday’s game will long be remembered as a personal triumph for Dean, who scored the first five goals in a manner that confirmed the view of those who regard him as the most efficient centre-forward of the day. The first three were headed, and in this category Dean is certainly in a class by himself’.
By late March, when Everton visited Stamford Bridge, the Toffees still topped the table but were three points clear of reigning Champions Arsenal in second place who had a game in hand. Chelsea on the other hand and climbed up to mid table safety.
A 0-0 draw kept Everton at the top of the table and back to back titles followed in May as Everton pipped the Gunners to the 1931/32 title – at the time only the second side to achieve this after their Merseyside neighbours Liverpool did the same between 1904/05 and 1905/06. Everton however would not be challengers for the title again until the end of that decade. In the meantime, Everton would face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the third round of the FA Cup in January 1938, footage of which would be captured by the Gaumont newsreel. A goal for Alex Stevenson gave Everton a 1-0 win.
By this time, Dixie Dean had been replaced by a new Goodison hero in Tommy Lawton (who after the war also turned out for Chelsea). When Chelsea visited Goodison Park in early December 1938, Everton were three points behind league leaders Derby County with a game in hand, while Chelsea were one point above the relegation zone. Two goals for Tommy Lawton gave Everton a 4-1 win. By the following April when Everton came to Stamford Bridge, the Toffees were six points clear at the top of the table under a two points for a win system. Chelsea in contrast sat just two points above the drop zone in twentieth place. A 2-0 win for Everton edged them closer to the title, which was duly delivered a few weeks later. Chelsea however had only saved their existence in the top flight with a 1-1 draw with Bolton on the final day.
Global events would again rob Everton of building on their title triumph, with a seven year gap for competitive football as a result of the Second World War. When football resumed in 1946/47, the Toffees were a weakened force. In early September 1948, Chelsea thumped Everton 6-0 at Stamford Bridge with two goals for Roy Bentley. The two sides would be drawn together in the fourth round of the FA Cup that season, in the first post-war Cup tie between the two sides, where Movietone News would capture a 2-0 win for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with goals for Reg Williams and Jimmy Bowie (the latter no relation to pop legend David, whose real name is David Jones and chose his famous moniker in homage to Jim Bowie – a Texan folk hero and creator of the Bowie Knife).
Everton spent most of the late forties in the bottom half of the table. By mid-February 1951, both sides were battling relegation. Everton were in eighteenth place, two points ahead of Chelsea in nineteenth who had three games in hand. The Toffees boosted their chances of survival with a 3-0 win over Chelsea at Goodison Park. After a further home win over Fulham a week later, Everton would fail to win the next nine games. Their barren spell ended with a 1-0 away win over Derby County in their penultimate game. Everton would go into the final game of the 1950/51 season two points clear of the drop, with Chelsea below them as well as Sheffield Wednesday who the Toffees would meet on the final Saturday of the season.
The Owls would hammer Everton 0-6 at Hillsborough to consign them to the drop, finishing rock bottom. Despite such a thumping win, Wednesday too would be relegated after Chelsea’s 4-0 victory over Bolton at Stamford Bridge – with two goals apiece for Bobby Smith and Roy Bentley - kept them in the top flight on goal average by 0.04 of a goal. Consequently, the Toffees spent the following three seasons in the second tier – their longest ever period outside of the top flight. Everton returned as Second tier runners up in 1953/54. Their first visit back at Stamford Bridge in September 1954 would see the Toffees run out 2-0 winners in front of 59,199 spectators and unbeknown to the Evertonians at the time, this would be their last away league win over Chelsea for the next twenty three years.
The following February, Chelsea were four points from the top of the table in sixth place on visiting Goodison Park. The two sides played out a 1-1 draw, with Roy Bentley on target for Chelsea and Tony McNamara for Everton. For the remainder of the season however, Chelsea would lose just two games and secure their first ever League title under the stewardship of Ted Drake. Their defence of the title in 1955/56 would be the first of seven straight bottom half finishes for Chelsea. One bright spot however would be a 6-1 thrashing of Everton at Stamford Bridge in front of just 13,825 people in mid-April 1956, with goals for Jim Lewis, two for Les Stubbs and a hat-trick for Roy Bentley.
Everton would also spend the late fifties finishing in the bottom half of the table. By 1960 however, Everton began to turn the tide with top half finishes as the Moores family took over the club and ploughed the fortune earned from the Football pools into Everton Football Club. The Toffees instantly became known as the ‘Mersey Millionaires’. Marking the transition in March 1960 would be a 6-0 victory for Everton over Chelsea. By the following October, a 3-3 draw between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge would be captured by the ITN cameras, with Jimmy Greaves on target for the Blues.
By March 1962 though, there would be a contrast of fortune for Chelsea and Everton, coinciding with the appointment of Harry Catterick as Everton boss in April 1961, as well as Tommy Docherty appointed as Chelsea manager six months later.
Ahead of Chelsea’s visit to Goodison Park for 1961/62, Everton lay in fourth position though a good seven points from the top of the table. At the same time, Chelsea were second from bottom with only their neighbours Fulham beneath them. West London misery continued with Everton running out 4-0 winners, with two goals for Alex Young. By the close of the season, Chelsea would finish rock bottom of the table. The Blues spent just one season outside of the top flight, before bouncing back up in 1962/63. Meanwhile, in Chelsea’s absence Everton won the First Division title that season. On Chelsea’s return to the top flight, the Blues began to establish themselves as a top five outfit just in time for the advent of the BBC’s regular football highlights show ‘Match of the Day’.
Everton too would remain prominent throughout the 1960s and, as will be seen tomorrow, clashes between Chelsea and Everton would feature regularly on both the BBC’s Match of the Day and ITV’s regional equivalents, such as LWT’s ‘The Big Match’ and Granada’s ‘The Kick Off Match’.