My next book ‘Sexton For God’ covers the tumultuous, exciting and successful period from Dave Sexton’s arrival as Chelsea manager in October 1967 to Ron Harris lifting the Cup-Winners’ Cup in Athens in May 1971. It will hopefully interest Chelsea supporters who remember the glorious cup-winning days of 1970 and 1971, as well as younger fans keen to learn more about a pivotal four seasons in the club’s history. It fills the gap between my two previous Chelsea books, ‘Diamonds, Dynamos And Devils’ and ‘Stamford Bridge Is Falling Down’, completing a trilogy covering Chelsea from 1961-75.
Following Tommy Docherty’s abrupt departure as Chelsea manager, the club were in disarray. Close to the relegation zone with unhappy players and unhappy supporters. The Chelsea board made a brave decision and appointed Dave Sexton as manager. That decision was to bear glorious fruit, culminating in the iconic 1970 FA Cup win and, 12 months later, European glory in Athens.
‘Sexton For God’ examines the manager, his methods, his personality, the players he inherited, the players he bought, the youngsters he brought through and the established stars he sold. It also looks at why, in that era, despite Chelsea having such a strong side capable of feats of enormous doggedness and spirit, a concerted challenge for the League title never took place and whether this constituted underachievement.
Sexton was the opposite of his mercurial predecessor. A quiet, methodical, guarded man, he still managed, during the period covered by this book, to get the freer spirits of the side buying into his ideas and tactics, with mutually beneficial results. How he did this, given how things unravelled in later years, fascinated me. The players he inherited included the stoic and hardworking (Peter Bonetti, Ron Harris, Eddie McCreadie, John Hollins, Marvin Hinton, Peter Houseman, John Boyle, Bobby Tambling, Tommy Baldwin) and the flamboyant (Peter Osgood, Charlie Cooke). He bought well (Alan Birchenall, David Webb, Ian Hutchinson, John Dempsey, Paddy Mulligan, Keith Weller, John Phillips), sold assiduously and, critically, brought into his side two young players, Hutchinson and Alan Hudson, who had a transformative effect on the side.
The 203 competitive first-team matches between Sexton’s appointment, and May 21st 1971, when European glory was achieved in Athens, are covered but this book is much more than just a series of match reports. Chelsea were highly newsworthy and certain players, especially Osgood and Cooke, had plenty to say. Their comments, interviews and articles are analysed. Football was changing, top players were starting to earn very good money and the lifestyles of some of Sexton’s squad reflected this. Osgood’s travails as he tried to clinch a late seat on the plane to the 1970 Mexico World Cup are covered, as is the persistent, premeditated brutal fouling he and Hutchinson, in particular, had to suffer from cynical opposition hard men. Osgood’s struggle to avoid retaliating, and the price he paid when he failed, are detailed.
Sexton could be ruthless with poor performers, or those he perceived as not putting the necessary effort in. He had to deal with cases of player indiscipline, though nothing on the scale of the latter part of his Chelsea career, a period covered in ‘Stamford Bridge Is Falling Down’. What he did, though, that should never be forgotten, was turn underachievers into winners. He won the supporters over, and by the time of Athens was revered by them. The book details how he did this, and why he deserves to be right up there on the list of great Chelsea managers.
The ‘Sexton For God‘ title relates to a banner displayed on Fulham Road during the 1970 FA Cup victory parade. The book cover, a representation of that, was painted and designed by my wife Nicki.
A number of supporters from those days have shared vivid reminiscences with me, though the bulk of the research involved working through contemporary newspapers and magazines, as well as a host of relevant books.
I am looking to raise £5,000 to produce the hardback version. The hardback includes photos, a slip cover, an index and a list of the names of the backers. Copies will be signed and dedicated to whoever the backer wishes.
A single UK copy is £25 inc p&p, two copies £45 inc p&p. Pledges are of course welcome from worldwide Chelsea supporters, and the outside-UK cost is £34 inc p&p. Two outside-UK copies would be £65 inc p&p.
I have a small number of hardback copies of my previous book ‘Stamford Bridge Is Falling Down’, and I am offering a signed copy of this, together with a signed copy of the new book, to UK backers only, for a reduced joint price of £45.
In essence would-be purchasers make a pledge during that thirty day period, entering their card details into the secure Kickstarter system. If the fundraising target is reached, then once the campaign closes on 20th July, the pledgers become backers, the money is deducted from their credit/debit card and a firm order is placed with the printers for the requisite copies of the hardback book. Please note. If the target is not reached, no money is deducted from pledgers’ accounts.
I have chosen a provisional set of photographs for the ‘deluxe’ version that hopefully encapsulate Chelsea in that period, and the photo order will be firmed up if the target sum is reached.
The plan is that, if the target is reached, the hardback books will be dispatched to backers in early autumn, but certainly in very good time for Christmas. Regular progress updates will be given until the dispatch date.
The Kickstarter page gives further details of the book and the crowdfunding process, as well as a link to enable you to pledge.
The project blog gives further background, details on the book and information on the pledging process.