Wake Me Up Before The Coach Goes (Season 1984/85)

“With the closed season now upon us, the CSG has decided to re-post some excellent articles (and pictures) that our friend ‘Corby’ put together many seasons back. We hope you enjoy them once again”

This is ‘Part Ten’ and the final part of Corby’s excellent articles. We hope you have enjoyed ‘looking back’ at these past seasons

 Season 1984/85

Season 84-85 started and finished with 2 totally different outcomes. One happy, one sad. In between saw some great football followed by poor football, great results followed by poor results, this was my 11th year of following Chelsea and I now well was used it!

There is always something special about the first game of the season. When the fixtures came out you’d always look for the first home game, then scan down at the Christmas fixtures, then the last game of the season. Then you look to see when we played Spurs, Man Utd or West Ham, hoping that the dreaded trip to Upton Park wouldn’t be a mid-week game in the darkness of November.

The first game though, saw us away at Arsenal on a warm Saturday morning. The kick off time was dictated by Thatcher’s Police State, who didn’t want hordes of ‘drunken Chelsea hooligans’ rioting in the quaint (!) North London suburbs. Zzzzzzz…

We’d just been promoted as Div 2 Champions and expectation was high.  This certainly showed when I got to Highbury, for thousands of Chelsea had packed the Clock End terrace. So packed that the only I way I could see anything was by holding onto a post whilst balancing on a rail at the back of the Clock End terracing. A 1-1 draw, watched by 45,329, and Chelsea were back in the BIG TIME after years of trawling around the 2nd Division. That was a great feeling, one I’d hope would last…                   

Next up was a mid-week visit to Stamford Bridge vs. Sunderland. I noticed that ‘safety’ fences had been erected for the first time in front of the East and West Stand seats. This was the result of the previous seasons pitch invasions. I think I spent more time on the pitch that season that what Winston Bogarde did in all his years here!  Canoville scored the only goal, and I went home happy, 4 points out of 6, the title was nearly ours….

That was then followed by a home game v Everton. Live on BBC 1 at 7-15 on a Friday evening. I remember thinking the whole nation could actually see my ‘Blues’ LIVE on TV!! Chelsea being LIVE on TV was a very rare thing. We hardly got any decent highlights, never mind a whole game, LIVE! The nation and my mates watched us, laughed at us, and saw us lose 1-0. I think this game may have been our first Lge home game to be shown live on TV. “It’ll never catch on” said some of the critics.

It never happens nowadays –well not on such a big scale- but whenever there was a LIVE game on TV, you’d see hundreds of people frantically waving their arms to the camera’s whenever the ball came near hoping their mates would see them. 20+ years on the tide has turned a bit, you now get hundreds of people with mobile phones snatching video clips of ‘action’ when a player/action comes near. Do these people ever stick them onto a DVD or whatever to watch? Or do they show their mates when they get back to the Pub? Some appear on You Tube, but I bet 99% of them are deleted or forgotten about within a week…

The 5 previous years mainly meant going to the same old grounds. This season gave me the opportunity to get a few new ‘big’ grounds in. Liverpool, Everton and Old Trafford to name three. Much to my annoyance I had to miss the early season OT visit due to a job interview. I rang the Company up and spun a yarn to try and get an earlier interview, 5.30pm was no good for me! At 3pm my mates drove up the M6, and I was left behind to fail the interview. I had to wait until late October to get my first ‘new’ one in, a trip to Fellows Park, Walsall, for a League Cup 3rd round game. A 2-2 draw was watched from a crumbly old open terrace, whilst we were constantly being watched/filmed by West Midlands Plod.

In early December we took a 52 seater up to Sheffield Wednesday. The previous season we’d had trouble finding a Pub, so we decided to pull off the M1 a couple of junctions early. We found ourselves well off the beaten track, and stumbled across a small village with one Pub. 3 of us went in and asked if he’d let a coach load in. The Landlord nearly cried when I said there were 50 lads/girls dying for a drink.  He muttered “no problem, you’re very welcome”. It turned out that business was virtually no existent due to the ongoing Miners strike. Realising this was an opportunity to make some badly needed money, he managed to get extra bar staff on to pull the pints quicker and knock up some sarnies to sell.

One or two locals did come in, and told us about the strike. They told stories of Victorian style soup kitchens being set up as the strike really took grip of their finances. Of how the Plod would turn up to police the picket lines and wave handfuls of £10 notes at the wageless striking miners. Of constant Police brutality towards them. That was something I could relate to, I’d noticed that since our promotion Plod seemed to have a different attitude towards us, mainly because of our reputation of causing chaos at grounds in the second division.

On arrival at Hillsboro we were met by the lovely ‘miner friendly ‘South Yorkshire Plod. As we tried to get off the bus Plod came on and ordered Jocky to take the bus around the ground. “due to congestion around the turnstiles” Off we went, and 10 mins later pulled up again outside the Leppings Lane…. Only to be told to go back round AGAIN! We ended up going round 3 times before we decided to get off before the away end terrace and walk up. We had a Corby Policewoman on our bus that day, and she couldn’t believe the way we were treated. I think it opened her eyes a bit. The incident was talked about on the way home, then forgotten about until April 15th  1989…

We bounced around mid/upper-table for the first half of the season, a decent home record saw to that. Our away record was pretty dismal, with no wins.  We then headed into the traditionally poor Christmas period. Everton away in December of that season is known to us in Corby as ‘the Golf Ball’ game. We had travelled up to Merseyside in our normal classy style, a right heap of rust, aka Donovan’s mini-bus. We always took the cheapest quote when hiring a bus, it obviously helped keep the cost down and therefore made it easier to fill it. It also meant more money could be spent on Black Tower wine, or them strange shaped bottles of Cider! Whatever possessed us to drink such rubbish? Mind you, we still do!!!

At the game, which we won 4-3 thanks to a Gordon Davies hat trick, we stood behind the goal. To the left, along the side, were the lovely scousers. They were Evertons finest. 10 minutes or so into the game, a golf ball, amongst many other things, was lobbed from the Everton into the Chelsea. It hit the fence in front of us, and then headed towards me. Luckily (!) it hit the guy in front of me right on the side of the head. He went down like a brick, the golf ball then headed back over the fence, hit the cross bar and then hit a photographer on the shoulder before rolling onto the pitch! Niedzwiecki then picked it up and threw it into the goal.  The funniest thing I ever saw at a match! 

Until the trip to Ipswich in early March…. We only had around 30 on our 52 seater coach that day, we’d been let down by a few who had gone out on the piss on the Friday night, and were still not home by 9am when the coach was due to leave! With no mobile phones to ring them up, we had to persuade ‘Jocky’ Hughes –our driver- to negotiate various streets in Corby in the vain hope at least one of them would now be in, and help keep the cost of the Bus down.

On the way to the game we stopped at a Pub in Bury St Edmunds for a pint or five. I can’t recall the name of the Pub we pulled into, but as we did pull up, we noticed a few lads looking out of the window. Jocky was unsure about the place, he certainly didn’t want the Coach bricked. We went in and were met by a load of local Chelsea lads. We got chatting to them, and it transpired they were going to Ipswich in a fleet of  cars. 4/5 pints and a Pool comp later, our bus was full, and their cars stayed in the car park!

When we got to the game, we went into the seats as we couldn’t be bothered queuing up for the terracing. In the pre-match warm up, Pat Nevin miss-hit a shot and the ball went straight into my little brothers’ face, knocking him out cold! We fell about laughing as he slumped over the seat in front of him. Nevin raised a hand to signal ‘sorry’. In the meantime Curls was lying there, and the St Johns Ambulance rushed over to help him. We were still crying with laughter when, after some smelling salts, he jumped up and said “who hit me, I’ll have the bastard” We told him what had happened, but now, 20 years on, he’s probably corrupted the story to when “him and Hickey led a mob into the Ipswich” At the end of the game Pat Nevin ran over to us and asked if the ‘wee man’ was OK.  10/10 for Nevin, but it must have played on his mind, as we lost 2-0.

Curls? Well after that game, he never came with us to watch Chelsea again. The lads at home in our Pub reckon it was the day he got some sense knocked INTO him…

Due to some bad weather during the winter and our opponents having Cup runs, from May 4th to May 14th we played 5 games. The usual moaning from the Club, but not from us, the fans. With 1985 being a non World Cup/ Euro year, we wanted as much football as possible.  One of the 5 was yet another early morning start up at Anfield, where we lost 4-3. How Dixon didn’t get a penalty that day was beyond me until on the way home. I glanced in a paper and there was an article about Refs being influenced by the Kop and the likes.

In my experience I feel that crowds being ‘influential’ towards the Ref has never really happened at Stamford Bridge. The odd Ref did however blow time a bit early when things were getting a out of hand on the terraces and threatened to spill onto the pitch. Leeds in 1984 is one that springs to mind.

Our best cup run that season saw us lose in the semi of the Milk cup over 2 legs to Sunderland. Less said about that night the better. Earlier in the competition Pat Nevin missed a penalty against Man City. Standing up by the West that night, I had the perfect view. Then, total embarrassment. He just seemed to just casually roll it towards Alec Williams, the City keeper! At least outfield players could move around the pitch, he was stuck in the goal. Must have been hell at Upton Park, where you could as good as touch the net from the terracing! I still have the Nevin penalty on video, and to this day I still can’t work out what he was trying to do. If ever I bump into him in the local Lidl or wherever he shops, that’s the first thing I’ll ask him. 20 years on it still haunts him, for he mentioned it recently on one of his dreadful CH5 appearances!

Another question I would ask an ex Chelsea player if I ever met him would be “what the f*ck were you trying to do in the 5th round replay up at Hillsborough.”  Who? A certain Mr Douglas Rougvie.  A very clumsy tackle led to a 4-4 draw after being 4-3 up. A week later at the second replay, the song from the SHED went something like… “3-0 down, 4-3 up, big Doug Rougvie f*cked it up” ***Trivia spot…we kicked off both halves of extra time that night…

The last competitive game that season was at home to Norwich on a very wet Tuesday night, and a win could see us playing European football for the first time since 1971. Needless to say, good old Chelsea let me down, with a 2-1 defeat on a badly flooded pitch.  It took me a week to dry out, I had stubbornly refused to follow my mates to the dryness of standing under the Shed roof. I was determined to stay put, as I’d stood up by the West all season apart from an ill fated jolly into the benches for THAT game against Clive Walkers Sunderland. So no European football, though Heysel was about to happen anyway.

3 days before the Norwich game we’d had a 1-0 win at Stoke – yet another morning kick off.  When I got home I found my Mum sitting on the stairs, crying. When I asked what was up, she pointed to the front room and murmured something about a fire. I turned the TV on, and it showed what was happening at Valley Parade, Bradford.

I was speechless as it became obvious that many had died in the inferno that had engulfed the old wooden Main stand. Mum came back in, and we sat there, in total disbelief. She had always took an interest in my love for football grounds, and had got upset that people like me, who had simply gone to watch their team, had perished. To me that was the start of the end of terracing at football grounds. After years of neglecting football grounds the time had come for clubs to spend some money on them.

Chelsea hastily arranged a friendly to raise funds for the Bradford victims. Two days after the Norwich game we played host to Glasgow Rangers. The Kings Head –my SW6 ‘local’ at the time- was bouncing with our friends from north of the border. A great atmosphere.

On the train journey home Steve went into the next carriage to chat to some of the Chelsea lads from Derby and when we pulled into Kettering, for some reason he thought the stop was Wellingborough…. and stayed on the train. Me and Clive had got off and realised what had happened as the train disappeared into the night. With Steve’s car at Kettering and 35p or whatever between us, we decided to hitch the 8 miles home to Corby. At 01.00 there is not much traffic about, and we ended up walking all the way home. In the meantime, Steve had got off at Mkt Harboro, hitched it back to Kettering and drove to Corby…missing us walking homeThat wasn’t  to be the only time Steve would make an stupid error when it came to Chelsea playing Glasgow Rangers…

From the 60p programme 

At the home game v Watford, Culture Club recorded part of their video for their new single, ‘War song’ Needless to say Boy George didn’t really get the response he wanted from “all you lurv-ver-ley Chelsea fans”. What a knob…


Ken Armstrong, (402 apps, 1946-57)

Sean D’Arcy (31 apps, 1951-52)

Sam Weaver (125 apps, (1936-46)

Chief Steward Sid Jenkins retired. In those days you knew who was who on the Stewarding front, they spoke to you…politely…

‘…on Police advice…’…. The games at Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, West Ham, Stoke & Coventry all had morning kick off’s….

As did our 80th Birthday celebration game v Spurs. We witnessed the Red Devils fall out the sky with the Match ball, the RAF Police Dog display team, the marching band of the Artillery Company, and 1,000’s of hats and balloons. Now I know who was in charge of our centenary events …

Tours of Stamford Bridge were FREE, just turn up in the car park on a Friday morning and off you go…

Admission prices

Shed …£3.00—-season ticket £72

Benches transfer…£1.00—-season ticket £96

West…£6.00—-season ticket £144


    Lower…£5—-season ticket £120

    Middle… £8—-season ticket £192

    Upper…£6—-season ticket £144

Programme 60p apart from the 80th anniversary issue, which was a bargain at £1…

Posted by Corby

(Cover photo posted with many thanks to John Ingledue / Lower Block)

[These excellent photograph prints, including many not shown here, will be available to purchase very soon] 





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