Calderhead David Image 4 Chelsea Manager 1914

Calderhead David Image 4 Chelsea Manager 1914


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Hurlford, Ayrshire born centre half David Calderhead began his football career with Wishaw Swifts in 1879 and played for Wishaw Thistle in 1880 before joining Queen of the South Wanderers in 1881. While with Queens Calderhead won his only Scotland cap in a 7-0 win against Ireland at Ibrox in March 1889. Football League club Notts County then signed him in the summer of 1889, his Football League debut coming at Aston Villa that September.

In his second season at Meadow Lane he was part of The Magpies’ team that reached the 1891 FA Cup Final, where they were beaten 3-1 by Blackburn Rovers at The Kennington Oval. Calderhead stayed with the club after their relegation in 1893 and the following season Notts County returned to the FA Cup Final, this time becoming the first Second Division team to win the Cup when they beat Bolton Wanderers 4-1 at Goodison Park. He won the Second Division Championship in 1897, confirming promotion through the Test match series. In total he played 11 seasons for The Magpies, scoring twice in 313 appearances before joining Lincoln City in August 1900 as player-manager. He finished his playing career with two appearances for The Imps in the winter of 1900, continuing as manager at Sincil Bank for the next seven years.

In leading his side to a shock replayed win over Chelsea in the first round of 1906-07 FA Cup, he impressed the west London club’s board enough for them to appoint him manager in August that year. Norrie Fairgray made the same move in the same year to play for Calderhead at both clubs. Calderhead was Chelsea’s first full-time secretary-manager and spent almost 26 years at the club, making him the club’s longest serving manager. In his time there, the team were relegated twice, in 1909-10 and subsequently promoted as Second Division runners-up in 1912.

He took Chelsea to their first FA Cup Final, in 1915, but in a match overshadowed by the First World War, the so called “Khaki Cup Final”, they were beaten 3-0 by Sheffield United at Old Trafford. The club later reached two more semi finals under Calderhead and were on course for a domestic double in 1919-20 but ultimately finished third in the First Division and were denied in the FA Cup by eventual winners Aston Villa. A second relegation ensued in 1923-24 before the side of Willie Ferguson, Tommy Law and Andy Wilson endured a succession of near misses before securing promotion in 1929-30.

Calderhead was notoriously shy of the media, earning the nickname “The Sphinx of Stamford Bridge”. But he was not afraid to spend headline-making transfer fees on star strikers (especially fellow Scots), bringing the likes of Andy Wilson, Hughie Gallacher, Alex Jackson and Alec Cheyne to Stamford Bridge. Despite the glamour of the squad, trophies remained elusive. 1931-32 brought a further FA Cup semi final. Tommy Lang inspired Newcastle United to a 2-goal lead and despite Gallacher pulling a goal back, Newcastle progressed to the Final and would eventually lift the Cup.

At 966 games in charge, Calderhead holds the record at Chelsea for managing games. He left the job in June 1933 to be replaced by Leslie Knighton.

His son, also called David, played for Chelsea while Calderhead was manager, and appeared for Motherwell and Clapton Orient, and later also managed Lincoln City from 1921 to 1924.

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