We continue our occasional series with a look at a classic centre forward!
With our Legends series now back up and running and being well received, our selection for #9 in our series covers a centre forward that went ever so close to becoming our all-time top scorer.
Step forward – Kerry Dixon
Kerry Dixon was a player I could emphasise with. We`re the same age, we grew up in the same town, I went to school and did an apprenticeship alongside his cousin, so it was natural I`d follow his career with a degree of intensity.
Born on 24th July 1961, Dixon overcome a rejection by Tottenham to work his way back up the football ladder to become a scoring sensation and an England international.
The road to the top of his profession began in local non-league football, at Chesham United and Dunstable. But it was whilst he was scoring for fun at the latter of those two small clubs that the scouts began to realise this lad could make his mark in the professional game.
Maurice Evans, at reading, took the plunge signing him for the princely sum of £20,000. Dixon repaid his faith scoring 51 goals in 116 league games, almost a goal every two games. With Chelsea, under the stewardship of John Neal, looking to build a side capable of getting out of the old Second Division, a fee of £175,000 was paid to take Kerry from Elm Park to Stamford Bridge. Incidentally, the fee of £175,000 included £25,000 that was payable if Dixon went on t play for England.
During that first season with Chelsea, Dixon became an instant hit. The blonde striker scored twice on his debut, against Derby and went on to score thirty-two more as Chelsea powered to promotion with a massive 5-0 crushing of Leeds United, a game in which Dixon had scored a hat trick. For the second successive season, Kerry Dixon had won a ‘Golden Boot` as the leading scorer in the division he was playing.
Many question whether Dixon would be able to cut the mustard in top flight football but the striker answered any doubts in fine style. On the opening day of the season, away to Highbury, Dixon scored the Chelsea goal that gave us a share of the points in front of a Clock End that was packed solid with Chelsea supporters.
Dixon Scores against Arsenal August 1985
Throughout that first season back in top flight football, Dixon continued to score regularly and finished with 24 league goals to share a ‘Golden Boot` with Gary Lineker. Dixon had three ‘Golden Boots` now, in three consecutive seasons and had scored, including cup goals, an incredible 70 goals in 101 games.
Unfortunately, the following season, Dixon, still scoring regularly, picked up a stomach muscle injury in a cup tie against Liverpool. Many pundits suggest that injury robbed him of some of his fearsome pace. However, Dixon did return to secure a place in the 1986 World Cup squad aided by two beautiful finishes up at Old Trafford as Chelsea beat Manchester United 2-1. For the second successive season Chelsea 6th but the glory was to be short lived.
Internal squabbling saw several key players leave and Chelsea were relegated to the old Second Division in 1988. The period before the relegation, courtesy of a play-off defeat against Middlesbrough, saw Dixon almost sold to London rivals Arsenal but the deal never came to fruition. The spectre of relegation saw Dixon re-start his career with a further 25 goals as Chelsea returned to top flight football as Champions. The title being virtually sealed after Chelsea emphatically saw off Manchester City, at Maine Road, with a sparkling display in front of approximately 10,000 travelling supports.
Man City v Chelsea 1989
Dixon`s scoring form continued unabated the following season as he plundered a further 26 goals with the pick of the bunch being a hat-trick, at the Den, against Millwall. The hat trick being a classic left foot, right foot and headed combination. In doing so Dixon helped Chelsea to finish 5th, their highest finish since 1970.
Unfortunately, after closing in on Bobby Tambling`s all-time scoring record of 202 goals Dixon was sold to Southampton, for £575,000 in 1992, having scored 193 goals.
At Southampton, Dixon once again linked up with David Speedie but his stay there wasn`t so prolific scoring just 2 goals in 9 games. After Southampton, Dixon enjoyed spells at Luton (his home town club), Millwall, Watford and Doncaster Rovers before dabbling with management at the same club.
On the international front, Dixon made 8 appearances for England; scoring 4 goals which included a brace against West Germany and another brace against the USA in a pre-World Cup tournament in the USA.
Today, Dixon is a respected pundit offering his views on Chelsea TV and remains a true blue doing stadium tours and also corporate hospitality.
In summary, Dixon, to me, was a home-town boy who made it big-time, his goals covered a range of tap-ins, blistering shots, accurate headers and the unnerving ability to score when one-on-one against keepers.
For our last glimpse of Kerry in action, here`s Chelsea beating Spurs in the Rumbelows Cup (Carling Cup) back in 1990, after the first game had ended 0-0 at Stamford Bridge – enjoy!
Spurs v Chelsea Rumbelows Cup (1990)
Kerry Dixon a Chelsea legend and #9 in our series.
If you wish to view others in this series, please click on the link below.
Chelsea Legends, Click Here