The 1965-66 season had shown further progression for Tommy Docherty’s young team. A creditable fifth place in the league was enhanced by semi-final appearances in both the FA and Fairs Cups (Chelsea did not enter the league cup due to participation in the latter).
On the kit front, the season began with an outing at West Ham in white shirts, navy shorts with red trim and numbers and red socks.
This was to be the only appearance of those shorts as, when they went to Aston Villa a month later, the home shorts were worn with the white shirt and red socks in a thumping 6-2 victory with five goals from Bobby Tambling.
The home kit, meanwhile, was carried over from last season with Umbro confirmed as supplier. There appears to be some crossover between Umbro and Bukta between 1959-60 and 1965-66 but, due to so few shirts surviving, it is difficult to confirm.
The two companies also supplied the shirt numbers and it is possible to make a guess by studying these, the numbers 5, 6 and 9 being quite different. Blue socks were worn with the home kit on three occasions during the season (plus the FA Cup final, but more on that later).
October began with a game at Manchester City where red shirts were worn with black shorts, red trim, and red socks. This kit was also worn at Everton, then at Leicester in May.
In November, at West Brom, the black shorts were replaced by plain red ones, without numbers, the same combo being used at Sheffield Wednesday at the end of the year.
Earlier in December – at Newcastle, rather oddly, the yellow shirts from the previous season reappeared with the usual navy shorts with yellow trim and yellow socks.
It was also used against Burnley in the league and Huddersfield Town and Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup. The supplier may have changed as the cuffs now only had two blue bands.
The FA Cup threw up a tie with Brighton and, due to the unusual rule of both teams having to change in the event of a clash, Chelsea sported the white shirts with home shorts and white socks (Brighton wore their Arsenal-style red away kit).
For the final itself against the all-white of Tottenham Hotspur, there was one minor, but important, change.
The ‘lion rampant’ from the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea Arms was combined with the crozier of the Bishop of Westminster to form the iconic Chelsea badge which would last until the mid-1980s, when it was replaced with the much-disliked ‘Millwall’ lion introduced by Ken Bates. Not that Mr Bates was disliked, I should hasten to add…
Nine variations overall, matched by ninth in the league and reaching the FA Cup final, for the first time since 1915. Incredibly, the following season there were only two variations, all-blue for the home kit and the yellow-navy-yellow change kit, although the white shirt did make at least one pre-season appearance at Clydebank.
The following season would see Tommy Docherty leave in early October to be replaced, initially by Ron Suart, then by Dave Sexton, who would finally lead this young team to silverware in the early 1970s.