An Afternoon with Peter Rhoades-Brown

Peter Rhoades | Credit:

This week I was fortunate enough to sit down with ex Chelsea winger Peter Rhoades-Brown and discuss all things Chelsea. Peter was a joy to converse with, sharing many memorable career experiences with myself. During his time at Stamford Bridge, Peter made 109 senior appearances scoring numerous goals, always proving to be a tricky opponent for the opposition. His insight and admiration for the club is humbling, I hope this small interview gives you an understanding of Peter as a professional and Chelsea Football Club as an institution.

Many thanks, Peter.

You are from the West side of London, so was it natural you ended up at Chelsea as a young player?

When I was in primary school, Tottenham approached my Dad and asked if I’d like to join, he said no as I was too young, Chelsea had also asked my Dad if I’d join when I was 11, again he felt I was too young. However, later when I was going into secondary school, Chelsea again approached me when I was playing for Hampton Rangers, I went up for a trial on a Sunday and everything clicked. I scored a load of goals and got asked to join the youth team down at Mitchem. I think it was the keenness that drew me towards the club, they really wanted me.

Were any other clubs interested in signing you growing up?

I was offered a registration every year from Chelsea, but when you get to 15 a window of opportunity opens for other clubs to come in and have a sniff. I had Palace, Arsenal, Spurs and QPR all keen for my signature. I turned down Spurs and Arsenal straight away, and in those days those boys had big money, Chelsea had no money at all. I sat down with Terry Venables at Palace for lunch, spent a week training there. I also played for QPR for a couple of games when Dave Sexton was the manager. Both teams offered me a contract, I sat on the stair and thought about it, but as I’d been at Chelsea for so long and I loved the way the coaches were, I couldn’t leave.

I know a lot of our readers are perhaps more familiar with Chelsea being positioned towards the upper echelons of football, could you give them a picture of what it was like progressing through the Chelsea ranks during the late ’70s and early ’80s?

I used to get a lift with Gary Locke or simply get the bus over to training and walk down past Hampton count bridge. I would have to arrive early obviously to clean the boots and get the kit out before the senior players arrived. And I can tell you now that’s not something they do now. In those days we had a group of 15 apprentices, first and second year and we looked up to them. Back then we were given the responsibility to look after and clean Stamford Bridge, one day you’d be cleaning the shed, the next you’d be sweeping up in the north stand. We never used to leave in Bridge on a Friday before the game until 6oclok in the evening. It didn’t do me any harm, I just wanted to play football and that was part of the progression to get there.

1981/82 Chelsea were mid-table in the second division, you’ve got past Wrexham in the previous round and then drew Liverpool in the 5th round, arguably the defining team of the era. What was the build-up like for the game?

It’s amazing really because once the draw came out we all thought, ‘well good luck with that one’. We were midtable at that time and we just looked at that Liverpool team with the likes of Souness and Ian Rush, and thought, well it’s a one-off game. My Dad was a Liverpool fan, so the best result for him would have been 2-1 Liverpool with me scoring… I disappointed him in that game a little bit I suppose. But the build-up was good, we trained hard and the gameplay was to show them respect, but not too much. We put Colin Pates into the midfield to look after Souness because we knew everything would go through him. The atmosphere at the Bridge was incredible.

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So when a few minutes go by during that game and you have a clear run on their goal, does much go through your head?

Yeah, the rest is history, 6 minutes into the game I toe-poked the ball off Terry McDermott and then got the ball back off Colin Pates, not that I’ve watched it at all… I knew no one was going to catch me as long as my touch was good, I took it slightly away from the middle of the goal and I just knew I had to hit the target. I was never going to chip him or do a step-over, that just wasn’t in my repertoire, so I hit it well enough and it skinned inside the post, great times.

What’s your opinion on Chelsea this season, are you as pleasantly surprised as I am?

I’m pleased to see Frank back. Interestingly enough he was tied with Oxford united before he took the Darby job. It’s a massive plus for him, but he had to do it at the time otherwise someone else comes in at Chelsea and he’s well, he’s lost his opportunity. I certainly think the ban has helped him, steadied the ship and consolidated the teams position. I really think it’s his man-management that has got him through. The fact that he’s only just retired really shows, he seems to have learnt a lot from the managers he’s been under. He understands the mental side of Football, which is so important now.

Of this current crop of Chelsea youth, there are a number of promising players, who has impressed you the most this season?

Hudson Odoi for me. I remember when Oxford played Chelsea in Checkatrade trophy two or three years ago and I was commentating for BBC Oxford radio, you could just tell he had that little bit extra. For him to get in the team and the England set-up at just 18 is exceptional. I really like him.

With the transfer window now open for Chelsea and having already parched some notable players, what are your thoughts on Frank’s team next season?

I think Frank has bided his time and he didn’t panic buy. I’m expecting good things now, we can strengthen with some good signings and consolidate top 4.

What are the values that make Chelsea unique?

From my experiences it’s a family club, everybody knew everyone and it had this real family feel. Since I’ve retired I’ve come back as a guest and it still retains that feeling for me, you don’t get that everywhere. Once you’re a Chelsea boy whether that’s a player, a steward or a ball boy, it’s in your blood.

By Charlie Castillo

Edited by Jai Mcintosh

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