Continuing our occasional series whereby we delve back into the history of our fine football club and reflect on the career of a player worthy enough to be deemed a legend.
For the fourth in our series, I’ve selected a gentleman who is likely to remain at the top of our goal-scoring charts for many a year to come. Indeed, in recent times only Kerry Dixon has come close to reaching the target this gentleman set.
Step forward – Bobby Tambling.
Born on the 18th September 1941, Bobby Tambling was to score 202 goals for Chelsea in a playing career that saw him pull on our proud shirt 366 times.
His career, at Stamford Bridge, spanned the seasons 1958/59 through to 1969/70 before heading off to pastures new.
Tambling came to the fore at Stamford Bridge in the period in time whereby Jimmy Greaves had left for Italy, Tambling stepped into the gap vacated by Greaves and made an immediate impact.
The Stamford Bridge faithful were enthralled by his cool finishing, his courage and his spirit and it wasn`t long before a new hero was born. He made his debut for Chelsea as a seventeen year old against West Ham in February 1959 scoring in a narrow 3-2 win.
However, he wasn`t to really make an impression until the 196061 season, initially as a left winger before moving to the now defunct inside forward role. In that season, the young Tambling emerged as our top scorer scoring 20 goal in 34 games a very decent return.
The following season he, at the time, put his name against another record in our history books by becoming, at twenty-one years of age, the youngest player to captain a promotion winning Chelsea side. The added responsibility didn`t dull his scoring prowess though as that season Tambling notched 35 goals.
Tambling was a shy person though and the responsibility of being captain was handed across to Ken Shellito in the 1963/64 season. Like most strikers, Tambling hit a drought and passing the captaincy over enabled him to concentrate on his own game.
Like all top scorers, Tambling had this uncanny knack of scoring with alarming regularity and on four separate occasions, whilst wearing our shirt, he hit four goals but in 1965 he bettered this feat by scoring five, in a game, against Aston Villa.
Sadly, towards the tail end of his Chelsea career, injuries played a major part in hampering his progress and by 1969 they had cost him his place in the Chelsea starting eleven with Peter Osgood and Ina Hutchinson the preferred strike duo.
Initially, Tambling went to Selhurst Park on loan but the switch became permanent in 1970 and a Chelsea legend had moved on.
On a professional basis, as well as being our leading scorer of all time, Tambling won 3 England caps (1962-66) and League Cup medal (1964-64) and after eventually leaving English football he went on to play for Cork Celtic, Waterford and Shamrock Rovers.
Over the past few years, Booby has overcome serious health issues and, occasionally, can be seen gracing the hospitality suites at Stamford Bridge. On one such occasion, I was as pleased as punch to see Bobby hand over a ‘Chelsea Pitch Owners` share certificate in a pitch-side presentation to my youngest daughter.
Bobby Tambling – a Chelsea Legend.
For more on our legends series, click on the links below.
Chelsea Legends – Peter Osgood Click Here
Chelsea Legends – Tommy BaldwinClick Here
Chelsea Legends – Peter Bonetti Click Here