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Why did Chelsea remove the names of David Speedie and Nigel Spackman from the stadium?

A welcome and overdue change at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea v Hull City - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

In a somewhat random (in the sense of being unexpected) but certainly welcome news, Chelsea have decided to (finally) remove the names of David Speedie and Nigel Spackman from the only two named entrances of the stadium, informing them of the decision in writing.

Every other entrance or reception at Stamford Bridge is named for a cardinal direction, a tier (upper or lower), or a sponsor, but the two flanking the West Stand main facade had been named after the former favorites of ex-owner Ken Bates since the mid-80s. In fact, other than the hospitality suites* and the Matthew Harding (i.e. North) Stand named after our beloved former vice-chairman who died tragically in a helicopter accident, former Chelsea players and legends are commemorated by plaques and displays around the stadium instead — plus the one statue of Peter Osgood, whose ashes are also buried under the penalty spot at the Shed End.

Chelsea FC Archive: 1983/84 Pre-Season New Arrivals in Transfer Market
Summer 1983 signings (left-to-right, back-to-front): Niedzwiecki, McLaughlin, Spackman, Dixon, Nevin, and a returning old man John Hollins
Photo by Hugh Hastings/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

That’s not meant to diminish the accomplishments of Spackman and Speedie at the club, both of whom collected over 200 appearances in total, and played key roles in our promotion from the Second Division in 1983-84 under manager John Neal. Speedie, who was part of a goal-rich attacking trio alongside Kerry Dixon and Pat Nevin, would later be named our Player of the Year in 1985. Spackman was an ever-industrious midfielder, who may have also played for Liverpool and QPR for a time, but did spend a total of eight seasons at Chelsea across two stints.

That said, neither are likely to feature in anyone’s list of greatest Chelsea legends, which made their commemoration at the stadium, especially in such a prominent way, always a bit anachronistic, at best. (Also, “Speedie Entrance” was always amusing, in a way, given that it was more of an exit and not very fast.)

Most unfortunately, some of Speedie’s behaviors that came to light after his time at the club and some of his comments since have been anything but amusing, which, while unconfirmed, would’ve certainly contributed to this decision by the club — that it’s taken nearly 16 years to do so after those reports started to emerge in 2004 is even less amusing.

Meanwhile, Spackman, who’s been working as a pundit, has been accused of having a Liverpool-bias, though that’s a relatively minor offense. Still, once Speedie’s name was to taken off, it certainly made even less sense to keep Spackman’s name as the only one up on a sign at the stadium.

In any case, if we ever get to go back to the stadium, this will be one of the more welcome changes awaiting us.

*the hospitality suites are: (Chopper) Harris, (Ted) Drake, (John) Hollins, (Peter) Bonetti, (Dennis) Wise, (Bobby) Tambling, (Steve) Clarke, and (Gianfranco) Zola.

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