Chelsea signed legendary striker Roy Bentley from Newcastle for a very bizarre reason

10 Jan

A farce at Newcastle United in the late 1940s saw Chelsea come up trumps in the transfer market.

Roy Bentley, the first man to captain the Blues to league glory, joined the club because of a disagreement about the state of his bath in his north east home.

Bentley joined Chelsea from Newcastle in 1948 and scored 150 goals for the club

At Newcastle, where he had been since 1946, he was part of a deadly front line that included other goal machines Jackie Milburn, Len Shackleton and Charlie Wayman, but the band was broken up when Bentley, who was living in a flat belonging to the sister of a club director, complained about his dirty tub.

George Martin, his manager, popped over to have a look and told him all that was needed was some paint. Bentley didn’t agree and to the astonishment of fans, he left for Chelsea in an £11,000 deal in January 1948.

Born in Bristol in 1924, Bentley was a natural athlete, who excelled at high jump, hurdling and sprinting in school. He had the chance to play cricket for Gloucestershire and could also have been a boxer

Eventually it proved to be money well spent, as Bentley top scored in seven consecutive seasons, hitting 150 goals in 367 games as well as being part of a Chelsea team that won its first ever league title.

However, it was tough to begin with as he revealed in an interview with The Independent. “I remember going down the tunnel and a fan shouting: ‘What a load of rubbish. You’re no bloody [Tommy] Lawton, Bentley. Get back to Newcastle where you belong.’ It was the best thing he could have said. That really got to me. I thought, ‘You bastard. I’ll show you’.”

Roy Bentley addresses the crowd after Chelsea’s title win in 1955

And he did, assuming the captain’s armband in 1951 and leading the team to title glory in 1955, a season he scored 21 times in, including a hat-trick against Newcastle.

He was moved on to Fulham in 1956 despite protest from fans and eventually retired in 1962 after a spell at QPR.

Bentley remained a Chelsea fan and when the team won the Premier League in 2005 he was on the pitch with the trophy taking in the acclaim.

Bentley, right, was at Stamford Bridge to hand John Terry the Premier League trophy in 2005, 50 years after he first lifted the First Division title

“I always found Chelsea fans a great bunch,” he once said of the Stamford Bridge faithful. “Running out onto the old Stamford Bridge pitch and seeing the applause spread round the whole ground, all the way up to The Shed at the back, really did make you glow. When we were doing well and the ground was packed with more than 70,000 fans, it was something else.”

Sadly, he passed away at the age of 93 in 2018.