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‘Eddie Mac Eddie Mac: Life and times at Chelsea under Eddie McCreadie’ — book review

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If you’re a Chelsea fan, you owe it to yourself to read and learn about Mr. McCreadie and Chelsea through the early-to-mid ‘70s

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Groundsman George Anstiss and manager Eddie McCreadie examine the Stamford Bridge “pitch” in February 1977
Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Do you know who Eddie McCreadie is?

It’s okay if you don’t.

I know that I hadn’t the faintest idea who Mr. McCreadie was when Mark Worrall mentioned that he, Dave Johnstone, Mark Meehan, Kelvin Barker and Neil Smith were writing a book on the man.

To set the stage, when Chelsea played at Stamford Bridge last season, I always tried to make it a point to stop by Dave Johnstone’s and Mark Worrall’s stall — right across the street from Fulham Broadway — for a chat, a catch-up, and to pick up the latest copy of the CFCUK fanzine.

Mark, Dave and the regulars around the stall have been going to Chelsea since they were young kids. So, we’re talking twenty-five years or 750-plus matchdays for the “newcomers”.

I was very fortunate to attend the majority of Chelsea matches last season, and while I live in London now, this is a very new development. My thirty-odd matches last season easily doubled my lifetime tally of matchdays. Coming from the United States, I only first became aware that football existed beyond my own U-5 team during the 1994 World Cup. By that time, Mr. McCreadie was more than fifteen years into a forty-year absence from the club in which he made over 400 appearances and whom he managed as well.

So, when Mark told me he was writing a book on Eddie McCreadie, I remember telling him “oh, cool, I’ll look forward to that,” and then immediately Googling “Eddie McCreadie” on my phone as soon as I left the stall (this same exact situation played out when Tim Rolls told me he was writing a book on Tommy Docherty, which I’m very much looking forward to reading).

After reading Eddie Mac Eddie Mac: Life and times at Chelsea under Eddie McCreadie (available through Amazon or Gate 17), I can say, unreservedly, that this book is incredible.

Omid Djalili’s foreword sets a very high standard that the rest of the book somehow manages to meet. Omid shares a captivating glimpse into growing up as a football fan in London in the 1970s, naturally through the backdrop of reminiscing about Mr. McCreadie and Chelsea.

What follows is a truly admirable undertaking.

Mark and Dave managed to track down and interview dozens of former Chelsea players, each with their own great story about Mr. McCreadie or their own time at Chelsea (often both). The result is hundreds of pages of first-hand accounts; content aside, which is amazing, it is a remarkable feat of research by Mark and Dave.

With Mark and Dave’s own writing and editing touches felt throughout the entire book, it makes for a very entertaining read.

Additionally, we hear from Mr. McCreadie himself, who recounts what it was like as a youth player in Scotland in the 1960s, his time at Chelsea, and beyond.

One thing I found particularly interesting is that Mr. McCreadie moved to the United States shortly after leaving Chelsea, and to date, he has now spent more time in the US — Tennessee, specifically — than he ever spent in the UK.

Both Mr. McCreadie and Charlie Cooke, one of Mr. McCreadie’s former Scotland and Chelsea teammates, share stories about the North American Soccer League, which I found quite interesting.

Unfortunately, this review won’t do the book nor Mr. McCreadie’s story justice, but I highly recommend picking up a copy (the digital version is just $3.99). In fact, if you buy the digital version, and for whatever reason, you don’t feel like you got your money’s worth, I’ll personally reimburse you.*

If you’re a Chelsea fan and especially a younger or international fan like me, who likely wouldn’t have come across an opportunity to learn about Mr. McCreadie, you owe it to yourself to learn more about a player who made over 400 appearances for the club, scored what was ultimately the winning goal in the 1965 League Cup, and managed the club as well.

Beyond that, though, while this is ultimately a book about the life of Eddie McCreadie, it provides a unique insight into life in London in the 1970s, what it was like as a young player trying to make it as a professional footballer in those days, being a Chelsea fan in that era and beyond, and so much more.

Also, the fact that this book even exists is a testament to the passion of Mark, Dave, their fellow contributors, and the Chelsea fanbase at large. This was an incredible undertaking and the book absolutely reflects all of the hard work and effort that went into this project.

These efforts were not lost on the club itself. Just before Mark and Dave were set to host a book launch event at Under the Bridge, Mr. Abramovich got in touch with Dave to thank him for his efforts with this project and to let him know that the booking fees for the venue would gladly be waived. Mr. Abramovich also expressed his gratitude for everything Mr. McCreadie did for Chelsea — a small, but telling gesture, as Mr. McCreadie’s tenure at Chelsea pre-dates Mr. Abramovich’s by 25 years.

Mark and Dave were able to bring Mr. McCreadie back to Stamford Bridge for the book launch event — the first time he’d had been back in nearly forty years — and they and the club arranged for Mr. McCreadie to visit with the current squad and coaching staff at Cobham. That the Chelsea community is a place where a group of fans can help reunite a former player with his club is a special thing.

* I don’t think this will be necessary for one person, let alone multiple, but lawyers gonna lawyer. Reimbursement available to the first ten people who request it, and any request must be via e-mail (jake dot f dot cohen at gmail) and accompanied by a receipt.