Many Chelsea fans, and the wider football community, will have read about the case of an autistic lad, a passionate Chelsea supporter, who was recently caught in possession of two flares on his way to see Chelsea play at West Ham. More of the background to the story can be found here.
David Hislop QC, acting for the young lad, has asked us to pass on his thanks, as the next stage of the process continues….
Good Sense Prevails
The support from Chelsea fans all around the world in answer to a plea for assistance by an autistic Chelsea fan who faced a Football Banning Order was immense. Hundreds of emails, over two thousand tweets. Together with that support, the support of the Chelsea Supporters Trust and the Football Supporters Federation the court today was persuaded to conditionally discharge our young fan for six months and the Police and Crown Prosecution Service were further persuaded to withdraw their application for a Football Banning Order on the basis of a voluntary agreement to counselling from the Football Supporters Federation and an agreement to supervision at future matches. Our fan and family are overwhelmed by the support from the Chelsea supporters community. A special thank you.
The battle now continues to deal with the ban the CFC have imposed pending further investigation and representations. We hope that ‘good sense’ continues to prevail.
The final Fans’ Forum meeting of the season will take place on Wednesday 19 April 2017. It is a general meeting and all topics are open for discussion, bearing in mind that on-pitch subjects do not fall under the Forum’s remit.
In summer 2015 a chance rereading of the Albert Sewell book ‘Chelsea Champions!’ led official Chelsea historian Rick Glanvill to discover that Whitley had specifically requested to be buried at Brompton Cemetery and, with the help of the Friends of Brompton Cemetery, Jack’s grave was ‘unearthed’.
Sadly, at the moment it is a common grave with no stone to acknowledge Jack’s presence and his long association with the club just across the railway line.
As he is the only occupant of the grave, we aim to obtain the relevant permissions and place a ledger (or flat slab) with a suitable inscription on, repaying the commitment Jack showed to Stamford Bridge and Chelsea Football Club.
To do this we need to raise around £5,500, and that is where the great Chelsea family comes in.
The aim of this crowdfunding project is to raise enough money to erect a memorial marking the final resting place of one of Chelsea Football Club’s most loyal servants, Jack Whitley. He is the only Chelsea footballer we know to have been buried in the cemetery next door to Stamford Bridge.
Jack served the club loyally and with distinction from the age of 29 to 61, as first-choice goalkeeper (1907-1914), then as first team trainer (1914-1939).
He had died at Tring in Hertfordshire on 5 July 1955, a few months after the club won the league title for the first time in 1955, aged 77.
As well as chipping in what you can afford yourself, please help make every Chelsea supporter you know aware of the crowdfunding exercise.
Where is Jack’s grave located, and what is there to see at the moment?
Jack’s grave is just off the main path, east of the new Brompton Cemetery visitor centre, close to the north wall. We believe it could become a place of pilgrimage for match-going fans and the perfect place for supporters to begin the tour of the many Chelsea FC-related graves in this beautiful and historic cemetery. The grave is currently marked by nothing except grass, carefully tended by the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust Cemetery Clean-Up Group.
Are you actually entitled to erect a headstone on his grave?
The grave is a common one – not privately owned and paid for. Luckily Jack is the only occupant of this particular plot, so with the correct permissions obtained and an appropriate memorial selected we can go ahead and set a stone on Jack’s grave.
Why did the family not erect a headstone?
Footballers were nothing like as well paid in 1955 as they are now. It is unknown whether Jack’s widow Winifred was unable to afford the expense of a private burial plot and a marker for the burial, or Jack preferred a simple interment in a common grave.
We have attempted to research his family history and find close living relatives, but none has been confirmed to date. We would love to track down next of kin. We know that Jack married twice: firstly to Ellen ‘Nellie’ Edwards in 1897; secondly, in 1942, to Winifred Jessica Farrington. He had at least three children from the first marriage:
Nellie (1902-1983), Ruby (1915-2002) and another child who died young. Nellie married twice (first to tennis star Donald Butcher, then Chelsea footballer Albert Thain) but does not appear to have had children.
Ruby also married twice, to Sidney Upton, then Leslie Keeble, and likewise appears not to have had children. Perhaps someone reading this knew the Whitley family, or their descendants, and can shed more light? If so, we would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How would marking Jack’s grave benefit supporters?
Happily, marking Jack’s grave will add a significant, easily accessible new reference point to the self-guided Chelsea FC Brompton Cemetery tour, which already includes many founding directors as well as former manager Bobby Campbell. Chelsea and Royal Parks co-produced a booklet ‘Final Whistle: The Chelsea Football Club Trail at Brompton Cemetery’ (http://www.chelseafc.com/the-club/history/style/brompton-cemetery-trail.html) in 2009, which will need updating.
Why does Jack deserve a memorial?
Primarily because Jack Whitley is unique – the ONLY Chelsea footballer we know of buried at Brompton Cemetery. He also played a major role throughout the club’s early years.
Firstly, he played 138 times for the Pensioners between his debut on 23 September 1907 and his last match on 4 April 1914, keeping 39 clean sheets, including our first ever in the top flight, on his debut. He was the first goalkeeper to establish himself for longer than one season, and helped Chelsea win promotion to the First Division in 1912.
When his time between the posts came to an end in 1914 he became our first team trainer. Apart from responsibility for the players’ training regime and fitness, he attended to their injuries on match days. Generations of supporters fondly recalled the sight of Jack galloping onto the pitch to attend the fallen with a wet sponge, the tails of his tweed jacket flapping as he ran.
As a well-respected figure throughout the game he also played a part in negotiating some of the great transfers signings of the day, and was part sergeant-major, part father figure to the squad. He served Chelsea for 32 years, from 1907 to May 1939, when incoming manager Billy Birrell let all the coaching staff go.
It is a rare and wonderful sign of his undimmed affection for the club that when he died in Hertfordshire, just a few months after the Pensioners’ longed-for first league championship win in 1955, he left specific instructions to his wife Winifred that he should be buried next to his beloved Stamford Bridge.
We believe an unmarked grave does not do justice to a man who had Chelsea in his heart for so many decades.
What kind of grave marker are you proposing?
There are regulations and conventions that must be adhered to. We have consulted various monumental masons who work closely with Brompton Cemetery and the most suitable memorial will be a subtle, ledger (flat slab) memorial.
We propose an inscription along the following lines:
In affectionate memory of
JOHN ‘JACK’ WHITLEY
11 Apr 1908 – 5 Jul 1955
Loyal servant of Chelsea FC for 32 years
Goalkeeper and first team trainer
Who asked to be buried
next to his beloved Stamford Bridge.
Funded by Chelsea FC supporters 2017
How much do you need to raise?
There are three main expenses:
Administration fee to place 5’ by 2’ ledger on plot (Royal Parks).
5’ by 2’ ledger, plus inscription and setting (local monumental mason).
50-year lease on plot (Brompton Cemetery).
The total comes to £5,500.
Any donations above this will be given go towards the Cemetery Clean-Up Group, who tend all the Chelsea FC-related graves at Brompton and many elsewhere, and a new edition of the ‘Final Whistle’ cemetery tour booklet.
Why doesn’t Chelsea FC just pay for it?
We have not asked them to. With support from the club, Chelsea Supporters’ Trust has led the way in keeping the Chelsea FC-related graves free of overgrowth and in good condition.
We feel it would be nice to make this another fan-led project, and that this should be noted in the inscription. We know of no next of kin to Jack, so it falls to us, the great Chelsea family, to do right by him. Of course we welcome donations from anyone.
– 11 Apr 1878 • John Whitley, known as Jack, is born at Seacombe, Cheshire, England
– Aug 1907 • Signs for Chelsea from Leeds City aged 29, having played for the Pensioners’ secretary-manager David Calderhead at Lincoln City.
– 23 Sep 1907 • As goalkeeper, helps Chelsea to the club’s first ever top flight victory at home to Newcastle – and keeps a clean sheet on his debut.
– 1907-1914 • First-choice goalie and almost ever-present for first three seasons until the arrival of Jim Molyneux in 1910. Makes a total of 138 appearances for the Pensioners: 39 of them without conceding a goal.
– 1912 • Plays 26 of 38 games as the Londoners are promoted back to Division One.
– 1914 • Joins backroom staff as first team trainer aged 36, attending to the injured, assisting in transfer negotiations, and becoming father figure to generations of Stamford Bridge players.
– 1929 • Travels with rest of Chelsea team on the ground-breaking tour of Argentina, Brazil and Ururguay as trainer and emergency goalkeeper.
– May 1939 • New manager Billy Birrell dispenses with his services as trainer, ending 32-year association with Chelsea FC.
– 5 Jul 1955 • Jack dies at Tring, Hertfordshire, aged 77, but has specifically requested to be interred next to his beloved Stamford Bridge.
– 11 Jul 1955 • Buried at the north end of Brompton Cemetery in a common, unmarked grave.
In November, Tim Rolls representing the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, along with representatives of Spirit of Shankly, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’Trust and the Football Supporters’ Federation met with senior Executives from Sky Sports to discuss the impact of the rescheduling of Premier League matches for broadcast on match going fans, particularly away supporters. A further meeting was held on 22 February, with comment to follow.
Ongoing dialogue surrounding the scheduling of Premier League fixtures for TV took place at the latest meeting between supporter groups and representatives from Sky Sports.
The meetings were set up to give consideration to supporter groups and the impact on fans, particularly travelling fans, of fixture schedule changes when making TV selections, while at the same time outlining the requirements and considerations that have to be taken into account from a broadcast perspective.
Sky Sports is always mindful of the impact of their selections, taking this into consideration where possible on TV picks to minimise the impact on fans. The company also recognises that its customers and match-going fans are one and the same.
Fan reps now a have a greater understanding of the complexities of fixture scheduling, particularly the various contractual obligations broadcasters must meet.
Kat Law from the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, said: “We were encouraged by Sky’s enthusiasm to continue to build a working relationship with supporter representatives and the desire, from the top of the organisation, to consider travelling supporters when scheduling matches for live coverage.”
Gary Hughes, Sky Sports Head of Football, said: “We welcome this conversation with supporters about travelling to away matches and understanding the issues they face. It has also been helpful to outline the process we go through to select live fixtures, and the contractual obligations that ensure every club and every ground is featured regularly across the various slots we can schedule matches in. We have listened to the feedback, will continue to do so and widen this dialogue in future.”
While broadcasters have an influence on the match schedule throughout the season, the ultimate responsibility for fixture scheduling rests with the Premier League, and supporter groups are renewing the call for representatives from the Premier League to engage in these discussions as positively as Sky have done.
The supporter reps will now seek meetings with the Premier League, BT Sport, the train operators and individual clubs as they look for a joined-up approach to ensuring fixture rescheduling for broadcast purposes has minimal impact on travelling fans in the future.
Chelsea Supporters’ Trust held their second Special General Meeting of the season after the Swansea City match.
The SGMs are a good chance to report back to the membership, in person on progress with the issues we are mandated to pursue and have a face to face dialogue with the members.
Held in a venue new to us, The Lillie Langtry Pub we were well looked after and a decent turnout from the membership were updated on issues such as the Membership Survey and the move to a Temporary Stadium. In addition, board members reported back on initiatives such as ‘Kick-Off Times’; the Stamford Bridge Redevelopment; work on improving the atmosphere at the Bridge; work with Supporters Direct, The Football Supporters Federation and with fellow Premier League Trusts and work with the Overseas Membership.
Cliff Auger formerly announced our work towards the commemoration of ‘Founder’s Day’ at the Brompton Cemetery and our continued work helping to clean up Chelsea related graves at the cemetery.
After formal proceedings, a very informative Q & A session was held with Charles Rose, Chairman of the Chelsea Pitch Owners where Charles answered questions on why the CPO continues to be important; what the CPO’s involvement with the Stamford Bridge redevelopment is and what the future of the CPO is after the move back to the redeveloped Bridge.
A full recording of the meeting can be listened to here:
Special General Meeting
Saturday 25th February at 17:30 at the Lillie Langtry
Updates on progress and actions regarding motions passed at AGM (Working Group Reports): –
Supporter Issues (Cliff Auger)
Stamford Bridge Redevelopment (David Johnstone)
Atmosphere (Richard Weekes)
Affiliations (Cliff Auger)
Community (Cliff Auger)
Overseas Membership (Dan Silver)
Questions/Motions from CST members
Any Other Business
Question and Answer session with Charles Rose, Chairman, Chelsea Pitch Owners. Charles will be covering issues relating to the future of theChelsea Pitch Owners and their role in the Stamford Bridge redevelopment, temporary stadium and return to the Bridge.
Representatives of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust recently attended a briefing meeting at the ‘London’ stadium ahead of our Premier League fixture on Monday evening 6th March 2017, following the well publicised events of our League Cup game there back in October 2016. We were joined by staff of West Ham United and Chelsea FC , LS185 (responsible for stewarding), Police including the Matchday Commander, and supporter reps of West Ham.
We were generally satisfied that many actions have been implemented by WHU, LS185 and the Police to ensure that most of the issues seen in the previous game are unlikely to reoccur.
This is the fourth annual Chelsea Supporters’ Trust Membership survey. The goal of the annual survey is to identify the issues that Chelsea supporters care about.
This survey was conducted from the end of the football season (16 May) to mid-June 2016. It was sent out to both the voting and non-voting membership. The overall response rate was 25%, with a 44% response rate from Voting Members.
A section about the potential temporary stadium move ahead of the new stadium development was included this year, to provide information about Supporter concerns regarding this issue. Some questions have been slightly reformulated to provide more consistent data and a question about Supporter Liaison has also been introduced.
The results of the summary inevitably reflect the relatively unsuccessful 2015/16 season. For the first time, ticket prices and atmosphere, although still ranked highly, have been superseded by concerns about on-pitch success and related categories of youth player development, transfer policy and management stability.
Despite the on-pitch difficulties, satisfaction with Club administration is only slightly down on last year. It is disappointing to note that only 20% of respondents were aware of the Supporter Liaison Officer role at the Club and less than 5% knew his name or how to contact him.
CST members welcome the Away Ticket Cap agreed by the Premier League and over 60% said that they would now attend more away games. However concern was expressed that it would be even more difficult to obtain these tickets. Home ticket prices are still considered to be too high. Availability and location of juvenile tickets remain key concerns with regard to pricing, access and atmosphere and there continues to be a demand for a price category for young adults.
Although a move to a temporary stadium in any of the venues currently touted will not materially affect weekend attendance, most respondents consider that time and/or cost of travel will increase significantly. The primary opinion is that the Club should ensure that pricing takes account of this. There is a strong possibility that attendance of midweek games will be affected, particularly if the move is to Stratford.
About a quarter of respondents stated that the new European ticket collection arrangements were a factor in not attending away Champions League games. Although most agreed that the Club made the collection location convenient, the majority stated that the process ate into time for pre-match activities.
Respondents were asked to rank in order of importance what they considered to be the five most important issues. The rest of the survey explores these key issues in greater depth.
The highest importance was given to On-pitch success, followed by some distance by Ticket prices, Stadium redevelopment and Atmosphere. Receiving the most votes overall were: Development of young players, followed by On-pitch success, Atmosphere and Stadium redevelopment.
Amongst Other issues raised by respondents, the most significant were:
Team Management Stability
Touting & Ticketing
Ticket Prices have been the number one concern in the last three of the annual surveys but, although this is still important, this has been overtaken by On-pitch success. Stadium redevelopment replaced Stadium relocation from previous surveys and features in the top four for both highest importance and votes overall.