Tottenham and Chelsea first met each other in first class competition when Spurs reached the top tier for the first time ever in 1909 (Chelsea had only just been promoted to the old First Division one season earlier, having not even been formed until 1905). The meeting occurred at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge a week before Christmas. At the time, both clubs were languishing near the relegation zone. Spurs were second from bottom of the table, while Chelsea were one position higher in eighteenth. A crowd of 50,000 turned out for the game and witnessed 2-1 home win for Chelsea.
Seven weeks later in February 1910, Spurs returned to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea in the second round of the FA Cup in front of a crowd of 31,776. This time, a 1-0 win for Tottenham took them into the next round of the F.A. Cup, however Spurs would suffer a third round exit that year. Chelsea’s first visit to White Hart Lane came on the final Saturday of the 1909/10 season at the end of April – a game which turned out to be the relegation decider, with the Daily Express claiming: ‘never has there been so much excitement in London so far as League football is concerned’. Chelsea took the lead after five minutes, however Spurs ran out 2-1 winners with a goal from Percy Humphreys who joined Spurs from Chelsea five months prior.
The Daily Mirror claimed that: ‘it was as if pandemonium had been let loose’, among the 40,000 strong crowd'. Victory ensured top division safety for Spurs, however Chelsea as a result would suffer their first ever relegation after finishing second from bottom. The Blues however returned to the top flight as runners up of the old Second Division in 1912/13. Chelsea’s first meeting with Spurs on returning to the top flight came in early December 1912. At the time, the bottom of the old First Division looked like a London mini-super league. Spurs were rock bottom of the table, one point above them were Woolwich Arsenal (London rivals, but not yet separated by the Seven Sisters Road).
Chelsea meanwhile were five points above them in eighteenth, but having played one more game. A crowd of 36,771 turned out for the game, who saw a goal for Walter Tattersall give Spurs a 1-0 victory. Footage of the game was captured on silent film by Movietone News. The result gave Spurs only their second victory of the season and moved them off the bottom of the table, with Arsenal sinking to the anchor position.
By April the following year when Tottenham went to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea, Spurs held a nine point cushion from the relegation zone with three games left to play, which meant that their survival in the top tier was already assured. They were seven points clear of Chelsea who hovered two points above Notts County in the relegation zone. Arsenal were rock bottom of the table having won just three games all season (what at that time turned out to be the worst ever top tier performance by any side until surpassed by Derby in 2008) with their attendances dwindling week after week. On 5th February 1913 however, it was reported by the Islington Gazette that Arsenal were planning a move to the borough from their home south of the river. This gave great annoyance to the boards of both Spurs and Chelsea (as well as Clapton Orient), who saw it as the Gunners muscling in on their territory.
50,000 people turned out at the Bridge for the game between Chelsea and Spurs to witness a goal for Henry Ford, which saw Chelsea motor to a 1-0 victory. That win ensured Chelsea’s safety, as well as consigning Woolwich Arsenal to their only ever relegation in their 131 year history. Clearly the result at the Bridge satisfied both sides (not that any collision between the two sides for this to occur has ever been proven!). Over the summer of 1913 however, despite protests from Chelsea and Spurs, Arsenal made their move north of the Thames to Islington where they have remained ever since.
Chelsea and Spurs met again at Stamford Bridge just two games into the 1913/14 season. 65,000 people turned out for the game and witnessed a 3-1 victory for Tottenham. Spurs went on to win their first three fixtures that term. However things had changed by the time of the return fixture at White Hart Lane, which took place two days after Christmas 1913. Spurs stood in tenth place, while Chelsea were fifteenth and three points off of the relegation zone. A festive crowd of 29,305 turned out for the game. A goal for former Spurs 1901 FA Cup winner Vivien Woodward secured a 2-1 victory for Chelsea. That would be the second of four straight defeats for Spurs. Chelsea finished 1913/14 in eighth place, while Spurs finished in seventeenth.
Over the summer of 1914 came the outbreak of the First World War. Football however carried on for one more season, despite the fact that the conflict caused the county cricket season to be curtailed and the Rugby Union season suspended. The F.A. and Football League though experienced a great deal of criticism as a result of carrying as normal. In early September, Chelsea met Spurs at White Hart Lane two games into 1914/15 season. A crowd of 26,000 turned out for the game, to see the two sides play out a 1-1 draw. The return fixture back at Stamford Bridge occurred two days into January 1915.
Both sides now teetered perilously on the edge of the relegation zone, Chelsea in seventeenth place and Spurs in eighteenth were both two and three points off of nineteenth place Notts County respectively. Stamford Bridge saw a crowd 31,000 turn out for a 1-1 draw between the two sides. By the end of March 1915, the relegation battle at the bottom of the old First Division had hotted up as only two points separated six clubs, both of whom included Tottenham and Chelsea. The Blues were anchored to the bottom of the table, while Spurs were seventeenth. On Good Friday, eighteenth place Man United faced Liverpool at Old Trafford in front of a crowd of just 12,000 people.
Man United won 2-0 with the aid of financial inducement paid out to Liverpool players. The matter became known as the ‘Good Friday Betting Scandal’ which was later revealed and led to life bans for the seven players from both Man United and Liverpool. On the penultimate game of the season, Man United left Stamford Bridge with a 3-1 victory. Chelsea lost their final fixture of the season at Notts County, while United beat Aston Villa 1-0 to avoid relegation. That result initially relegated both Chelsea and Spurs at a stroke, however football went on to be suspended for the remainder of the First World War. After the Armistice of November 1918, the top tier was expanded to twenty two sides and football resumed again for the 1919/20 season. Chelsea were allowed to keep their place in the top flight as a result of the expansion and it was expected that Spurs would also, despite finishing bottom.
Arsenal however (who finished fifth in the old Second Division in 1914/15) were elected to the top flight by eighteen votes to five at Tottenham’s expense and the Fans of the football side in London’s N17 have cried foul ever since. Spurs though returned to the top flight as champions of the old Second Division in 1920. On Tottenham’s return, the two sides met each other in league fixtures on successive weeks in mid-October 1920.
The first meeting took place at White Hart Lane where 50,000 people turned out for the event. A hat-trick for the brilliantly named Bert Bliss aided Spurs to a thumping 5-0 victory – their biggest ever winning margin over Chelsea (silent footage from British Pathe News can be seen below). One week later back at Stamford Bridge in front of a crowd of 76,000 which included the presence of royalty in the shape of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, Spurs thumped Chelsea again with a 4-0 victory, taking their goals tally to nine in successive weeks.
The result left Chelsea rock bottom of the table, however relegation was avoided for the Blues with a cushion of thirteen points, as they ended the season in eighteenth, while Spurs finished sixth. For a few brief years after the First World War and before the building of Wembley Stadium, Stamford Bridge was home to the FA Cup Final. In 1921, Spurs won their second FA Cup at Stamford Bridge in front of a crowd of 72,805, beating Wolves 1-0 in what was known as the ‘Coal Strike’ Cup Final, as it occurred during the first ever national strike by coal miners in Britain, who had took industrial action for a national minimum wage for coal miners.
Six months later, eight days before Christmas 1921, Chelsea travelled to White Hart Lane for the first meeting between the two sides during the 1921/22 season. Spurs and Chelsea were thirteenth and fourteenth in the table respectively. A 50,000 crowd however witnessed a 0-0 draw. The return fixture at Stamford Bridge occurred a week later on Christmas Eve. This time 54,000 turned out. Henry Ford scored for Chelsea, however far from a Fiesta for Christmas for Chelsea it turned out to be Christmas Bliss for Spurs. Two goals for Bert Bliss earned them a 2-1 victory as the North London side earned two points for Christmas. Spurs ended 1921/22 as runners up in the League, but six points off of Champions Liverpool. Chelsea meanwhile finished ninth.
The Christmas week double header was repeated again in 1922/23.
Nine days before Christmas, Spurs headed to Stamford Bridge to meet Chelsea. Spurs stood thirteenth in the table, but just four points from the bottom of the table. Chelsea were only two points from the foot of the table in eighteenth place. The two sides played out a 0-0 draw in front of 50,000 people and the most notable thing about the game was that it was the final appearance of the humorously named Jack Cock in a Chelsea shirt, who moved to Everton the following February. Two days before Christmas 1922, the two sides met again at White Hart Lane.
Only 33,068 turned out, which indicated a dip from previous meetings. Two goals from Jimmy Seed earned Tottenham a 3-1 victory, which gave Spurs a six point cushion from the relegation zone. Chelsea finished 1922/23 in nineteenth place and six points above the relegation zone, while Spurs finished thirteenth. In 1923/24, the two sides met each other again a week apart, but this time it would be at the start of the season at end of August and start of September. At the end of August, Spurs left Stamford Bridge with a 1-0 victory in front of a crowd of 40,000. One week later back at White Hart Lane in front of a similarly sized crowd, the score was reversed as Chelsea picked up a 1-0 away victory.
At the end of the 1923/24 season, six points separated the two teams. Spurs finished fifteenth, however Chelsea dropped down to the second tier after finishing second from bottom. It would be another five seasons before Spurs would also drop down to the old second division in 1928, after themselves finishing second bottom of the table. Between 1928 and 1930 would be the only league meetings between the two sides which occurred outside of the top tier. In early December 1928, despite it being a second tier fixture a crowd of 45,840 turned out for the game at Stamford Bridge between the two sides.
Chelsea came to White Hart Lane at the end of the following April. Chelsea stood seventh in the old Second Division, while Spurs languished in thirteenth. A hat-trick for Edward Harper however earned Spurs a 4-1 victory. Spurs finished the season in tenth, meanwhile Chelsea missed out on promotion by five points after coming third. In 1929/30, the sides met at Stamford Bridge in September for their final meeting during the 1920s. Two goals for George Pearson aided a 3-0 win for Chelsea in front of a crowd of 46,770. The return fixture occurred at the start of February 1930, by which point Chelsea were four points off of leaders Oldham in third place, while Spurs languished in tenth place. In front of a crowd of 33,623, the two sides played out a six goal thriller as they drew 3-3.
Chelsea finished 1929/30 as runners up, which secured their path back to the top tier however by this point their London rivals Arsenal had begun to dominate English football after winning the FA Cup a week prior. It would be another three years before Chelsea and Spurs would play each other again, after Spurs won promotion in 1932/33 by finishing the season as second tier runners up. The first meeting on Spurs’s return came at the end of September 1933 at Stamford Bridge. A mammoth crowd of 67,454 turned out, as a George Hunt hat-trick aided an empathic 4-0 win for Spurs. The following February, Chelsea came to White Hart Lane.
At the time, Spurs were riding high in the League and were just three points behind neighbours Arsenal in fourth place. Chelsea meanwhile were anchored to the foot of the table. A crowd of 39,652 witnessed Spurs do the double over Chelsea with a 2-1 victory. At the end of their first season back Spurs finished third, however were ten points behind an Arsenal side who secured the title at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea meanwhile finished the season with a two point cushion of safety in nineteenth place. The two sides would meet again six months later at Stamford Bridge, where a crowd of 46,715 witnessed a 3-1 victory for Spurs.
By the time of the return fixture at White Hart Lane, Chelsea and Spurs were two and three points off of the relegation zone respectively (while Arsenal topped the old First Division table). The two sides met for a rearranged midweek fixture three days after the FA Cup fourth round. Chelsea left with both points after a 3-1 victory. Chelsea ended the season by climbing to the safety of twelfth position, Spurs however finished up rock bottom of the old First Division (as Arsenal secured a second straight league title at Stamford Bridge).
Chelsea managed to remain in the top tier throughout the remainder of the 1930s (although in the final season before the outbreak of the Second World War would only avoid the drop by one point). Spurs on the other hand remained in the second tier for the rest of the decade and the whole of the 1940s, when football returned after the Second World War. As will be seen in Part Two tomorrow, fixtures between the two sides would resume during the 1950s, as both sides would go on to win their first ever league titles.
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*Published 17th August 2017