David Calderhead

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David Calderhead
Personal information
Full nameDavid Calderhead
Date of birth(1864-06-19)19 June 1864
Place of birth Hurlford, Scotland
Date of death 9 January 1938(1938-01-09) (aged 73)
Place of death London, England
Position(s) Centre-Half
Youth career
Wishaw Swifts
Wishaw Thistle
Senior career*
1881–1889 Queen of the South Wanderers
1889–1900 Notts County 278 (12)
1900–1901 Lincoln City 2 (0)
National team
1889 Scotland 1 (0)
Teams managed
1900–1907 Lincoln City
1907–1933 Chelsea
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

David Calderhead (19 June 1864 – 9 January 1938) was a Scottish football player and manager. Calderhead played for Queen of the South Wanderers, Notts County and Lincoln City. He also represented Scotland once, in 1889. He then became a manager, working for Lincoln City (1900–1907) and Chelsea (1907–1933).


Playing career

Calderhead was a central defender and played for various clubs, including Dumfries team Queen of the South Wanderers (not to be confused with Queen of the South, formed in 1919). Calderhead won a Scotland cap, in a 7–0 win against Ireland at Ibrox in the British Home Championship in March 1889. This attracted Notts County. With County he played in 2 FA Cup finals. [1] [2]

The Blackburn Rovers side of Thomas Mitchell were 3–1 winners in 1891. [2] [3] Calderhead got his hands on the trophy in 1894 after a 4–1 victory over Bolton Wanderers. [2]

Management career

He then moved into management, taking over at Lincoln City in 1900. In leading his side to a shock replayed win over Chelsea in the first round of 1906–07 FA Cup, he impressed the west London club's board enough for them to appoint him manager later that year. Norrie Fairgray made the same move in the same year to play for Calderhead at both clubs. [2] [4]

Calderhead was Chelsea's first full-time secretary-manager and spent almost 26 years at the club, making him the club's longest-serving manager. In his time there, the team were relegated twice, in 1909–10 and subsequently re-promoted as Second Division runners-up. [2]

He took Chelsea to their first FA Cup final, in 1915, but in a match overshadowed by the First World War they were beaten by Sheffield United 0–3 at Old Trafford. The club later reached two more semi-finals under Calderhead and were on course for a domestic double in 1919–20 but ultimately finished 3rd in the First Division and were denied in the FA Cup by Aston Villa. [2]

A second relegation ensued in 1923–24 before the side of Willie Ferguson, Tommy Law and Andy Wilson endured a succession of near misses before securing promotion in 1929–30. [2] [4]

Calderhead was notoriously shy of the media, earning the nickname "The Sphinx of Stamford Bridge". But he was not afraid to spend headline-making transfer fees on star strikers (especially fellow Scots), bringing the likes of Hughie Gallacher, Alex Jackson and Alec Cheyne to Stamford Bridge. Despite the glamour of the squad, trophies remained elusive. 1931–32 brought a further FA Cup semi final. Tommy Lang inspired Newcastle to a 2-goal lead and despite Gallacher pulling a goal back, Newcastle progressed to the final. [2] [4]

Calderhead holds the record at Chelsea for managing games – 966. [4] He left the job in June 1933 to be replaced by Leslie Knighton. Calderhead died five years after leaving Chelsea in London at the age of 73. [2]

His son, also called David, played for Chelsea while Calderhead was manager and later managed Lincoln City. [2]


Notts County (player)
Chelsea (manager)

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