someone asked me to describe the York Tavern, as none of you could possibly imagine. very difficult task but here goes. The York Tavern was a pub just over Wandsworth bridge 100yrds towards Battersea from the round about' scene of the famous Newcastle coach ambush. I wasn't at that one so I was told only cs gas for the coach and a pasting for the fans. Not as bad as it sounds, few tears they take some punches all of them and that's that. so we are on the road nearest the river between Wandsworth and Battersea. It was the old days nobody but nobody supported anybody else every pub was a Chelsea pub and if any fans had ever dared to, but it never happened, stop for a drink in those they would be in big trouble within 1/2 hour. we are talking mid 70s through 1990.
There was one pub that stood out from all the rest not just in Battersea but the whole of England. I've been in lots of pubs, towns. There was nothing like the York Tavern and there will never be. There will never be the same set of circumstances again.
All Chelsea no one without Chelsea tattoos, no one in Chelsea shirts at that time it wasn't a thing. The maddest bunch of animals possibly the world as ever seen.
Ok seventies, all working class, on the edge of a council estate and plenty more at that time in Battersea. Smoking in pubs and you've got some of the heaviest drinkers you will never get to meet. Chelsea mad lot of skinheads like 90 %, not me as it goes, big skinheads, small skinheads, fat skinheads, ok all kinds of skinheads but Chelsea skinheads and that did change after the seventies. Then there were only some skinheads but the pub never lost that tag until it closed. Chelsea skinhead pub OUR PUB and we'll do what the fuck we like in there.
Traditional pub one of them wrap around horseshoe bars. Behind the bar Willie always in his Union Jack shorts and Big Dave, real big 6ft 7 min, 20 stone minimum., pool table and dartboard.
Occasionally someone came in who just wanted a drink, but not often. You have to remember the times, I remember every one used to sing, shout come on Eileen, and all the trousers got dropped, I suppose just to be bawdy or be pigs which we enjoyed being they were the times. The other record was Angelic Upstarts -The red the white and the Blue and lots and lots of Ska- volume we wanted just as everything else as we wanted, we went in when we wanted, left when we wanted,we had weekenders Friday saturday football straight back Saturday/ sunday, all nighters no notice taken of any licensing laws which everyone else had to. We had the best landlord in the world.
There were no trousers nights, I am well aware that must sound odd, seventies, Chelsea nutters. I remember couple of women and a bloke just out for drink came in on one night and when they saw the sight of all the blokes in there trouserless. They screamed and left pronto.
It was our spot for coaches, we filled and more than one earlier on and if not a Kent coach, yeah that one, used to pick up there at times. We were 'orrible, really disgusting, seventies. I can only go so far describing it, you had to be there. There was a competition how many you can get on the pool table that was good once a week it was always impromptu I remember the one when I was playing or had been playing and it got to 14 I think and I remember who was last on they never stood a chance eh Bill it is funny what you remember and what you don't. I can't remember the landlords name.
Sunday dinners, sunday roast plate fulls on the bar, plates touch bar animals feeding time hands only and as quick as you like before it's all gone, came down courtesy of the landlords' Mrs and we'd been drinking from whenever we'd got back from football which was always Saturdays ( there has got be young supporters who don't know that ), through to Sunday 4 p.m. and then few pints more and home. Work Monday morning to Friday then off again. Beer wasn't as taxed then and you could really get pissed. My best mate, was married with kids, when he went you knew something good was going to happen. One night he came second, third and fourth in a drinking competition it was a 2 and 1/2 pint Viking helmet which everyone drank lager. I had light and bitter and my mate had snake bite 22 secs. 20secs. and 18 secs. 7 and 1/2 pints of snakebite some things you can't remember but I am sure it was good and then later I remember him on the grass outside, I waited with him I seem to remember. Mickey Greenaway was a regular , I think it was the only pub he could get in. Hey! you did not want Mickey following you home, we were 'orrible but he was in a class of his own.
Rest in Peace, for those who don't know he was the Zigger, Zagger, Zigger Zagger geezer who the new guy ain't fit to lace his boots. Also the "one man went to mow" . Mickey was possibly the first cheerleader in England, I never saw him fight, he was like a mascot and just dragged the tone of everything right down which was a plus in those days.
Singing was more of an art then, to the eighties when it became cooler not to sing, you wanted to be more incognito in the eighties.
One superb example I remember was Everton away last game of the season, Chelsea had no reason to be there league position wise but we were there and we were there to do business, which we took care of, but doing the business in the seventies also meant singing like has never been since then. We outdid most away as we do now so I hear. This Everton game Bob Latchford scored his 30th goal of the season I was 15/ 16, we had been singing. " You are my Chelsea, my only Chelsea", deep drunken working class Chelsea voices, terracing (Everton anyone else remember the darts that got stuck in the rafters of the away end and stayed there for years) . The Everton crowd go wild start running on the pitch, I remember at that point Danny Hawkins, jumps up on a barrier, everyone knows the face, he is our top man, and he starts " you make me happy when skies are grey". We are talking respect from everyone in there and then everyone is top of their voices " you'll never know just" 6 or 7 thousand. A couple of the Everton came over being cocky and wished they hadn't , Chelsea not many went on and dragged them in with us, quick pasting and you throw back, and then 15/290 minutes more louder and louder rowdier, "na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na" until you've taken my Chelsea away. na, na, na, na, na, na, (yeah, i'm singing it) same happened to coppers at Leicester and Coventry I remember, it was a fashion if you like. The coppers got there own back at other times. At Rotherham they had snatch squads in the alleys. as the Chelsea fans went past they would grab ones beat them with truncheons, throw him back and get more, miners strike coppers. With the coppers in the grounds you used to keep their hats, and pass it around like when some fans mostly ours didn't want to give ball back, some seasons we always lost, so all we could do to help was keep the balls. We had lots of fashions like that, some one would do it and it caught on , getting in the home teams seats early, or kicking in the door to their end just after kickoff. Blackburn and Wolverhampton spring to mind. Nothing so spectacular in football as whole end getting run by 2or300 Chelsea. Newcastle, Boro' all over I think there is not a ground in the country that Chelsea have not been in the home end. I'm going maybe Millwall in the 70s. Danny Hawkins' coach was the best at the time, so maybe.
Imagine the bottle of the 15/20 or so who went in the West Ham end one year. we were really good at it and they hated us for it everyone. All your Daily Mail and BBC nonces that hate Chelsea now And you on this site talk about they were all there and they have hated us since. Liverpool, Man.U, Arsenal the three media darlings we caused mayhem, absolute fucking mayhem, year in year out they hates us and still do and now they have jobs in media. We were crazy good at what we did, the rowdiness, the bawdiness, the pissed up chants of Chelsea.
You knew when our coach arrived for many years it was in their end. The thing was then as it is now but 10 times more for Chelsea then was to out sing the opposition, as now, we had songs no one else did. on that day Danny Hawkins when Everton had calmed down and during, all you could here getting louder and louder somehow was the Chelsea end responding to the lead of one of the hardest men I have ever met. If he was there Man. Utd end whatever you just knew it was going to be alright. A superb presence, not the biggest geezer, supreme confidence and nerve. I hope someone remembers him, I am going to feel so old if they don't. A firm of West Ham paid him the compliment of a visit and smashed up his garage one night.
One Saturday I went to Villa away and another mate suggested we leave the pub and see what's happening, he had heard something was going down so we walked to the stadium and down one side. We were obvious and didn't hide and we got confronted by a bunch of 15 Villa skinheads boots, crombies, earrings. My mate Bov game as ever wasn't backing down I knew he wouldn't. So were backed up against a wall Bov is absolutely in his element, big smile. And we hear " oi! skinhead fuck off". Danny Hawkins at the head of a mob on their way round to the Villa end. The skinheads scarpered and we got in there end, you keep your mouth shut, the coppers stopped some and thought they were on the ball but didn't realise we were over 200 keeping stum. Danny Hawkins came in and led up to the top. When he got to the top the fight started, we took the end. The ones who want to fight stand up and get hit you don't hit people who aren't coming at you. I saw the skinheads from outside, they stood and got pasted. They were only kids in my memory but then so was I, wasn't I, 17/18. And stayed right in the middle all game the coppers and Villa couldn't do anything about the most organised supporting force the game will ever see.
At the centre of all of that was our coach from the York Tavern. All ordinary working guys, families, but come Friday, Saturday, Chelsea it took on a whole new life of its' own. We did more than anyone else but there were lots of others, coaches, trains, and they would have a lot of their own experiences.
The England coaches such as the Switzerland game mentioned in an earlier episode all York Tavern grade A Chelsea nutters.
If that has given you some Idea how 'orrible we were, it was the seventies everyone was 'orrible we were just more 'orrible than anyone else. If you have an idea times it by ten. Shall I close with something nice or disgusting, go on then imagine the insult of going to Nottingham or Leicester I can't remember which. But go up there, their pub early and while you're getting served your have a piss up against the bar in the name of Chelsea Football Club.
Then times started to change with the arrival of the eighties we all got cleaner, except Mickey Greenaway, Fila and what not, then Armani, quite a transformation but York Tavern stayed exactly the same it was ours it belonged to Chelsea Football Club.
That is absolutely all I can tell you because I was very, very pissed at the time and I don't remember. I can't remember the toilets, what was on the walls, I do remember a pile of trousers on no trouser night.
It takes so much inner strength to write these stories, it was my youth and I long to go back for a weekend with a good game. Let's say Mancs away 1975 to 1985 but you could pick any one they were all good. I have got something odd going on in my gut after writing this for you all. I feel very alone and yearning for times gone by. I hope you appreciate and enjoy. Disgusting yes but great, great times and it was all about the Chelsea. They were the highlights, what we all looked forward to.