As nearly everyone reading this knows, Kerry Dixon was my hero when I was a kid. I thought he would be the man to break Bobby Tambling’s record of 202 goals in Royal Blue. But he was sold to Southampton before he got the chance and finished a mere nine goals short of cementing his place as Chelsea’s top goal scorer, which was set in 1970. As I hit my twenties I didn’t think a Chelsea striker would come close to this record. Zola was without doubt the best player to have pulled on a Chelsea strip, but he was never going to get anywhere it. Vialli was too late in his career. Flo was good, but I didn’t think he would be with us long enough or able to do it coming off the bench… Fleck was useless, Furlong was the little engine that didn’t, Sutton… well less said about Chris the better, Gudjohnsen had class, Hasslebaink had rifles in his boots… but ultimatly? Nope. Would never happen.
Then came this West Ham lad who could knock in a shot from 25 yards. A midfielder. Recipient of the pie eating song. Fat Frank Lampard. Who would have thought a midfielder would become the Premier League’s most consistent goal scorer? Who would have even dreamed that he could average a goals to games ratio of 1 in 3 over his Chelsea career? Not me, but there it is.
I could go into detail and wax lyrical on specific moments in Frank’s Chelsea career, like his penalty against Liverpool just after his mum died or that goal against Spurs in the cup… his equaliser against Man Utd in the Champions League final, but there are so many moments and we all have different favourites, let’s face it, we have 203 to choose from! So instead I think we will just generalise and reflect.
Seriously, 203 goals in 12 seaons. It’s the kind of goal scoring status a world class striker has and if he can knock in three more with three games left he’ll have a sixth 20 goal season in blue. He scored his first goal against Levski Sofia at Stamford Bridge on his fifth appearance and hasn’t looked back since.
I fling the term Chelsea legend, or leg end as I say it, around quite a bit. Most of the time it is a cult player status, but there is nothing cult about Super Frank. 606 appearances over 12 seasons. 124 assists and 203 goals. That’s not leg end status the likes of Dennis Wise, Didier Drogba, Gustavo Poyet, Ian Hutchinson or Roberto di Matteo. Nor is it the leg end status of Fatty Foulkes, Nigel Spackman, Kerry Dixon or Pat Nevin, Steve Clarke or Dave Webb and the whole of the 1970 squad. That’s LEGEND in capital letters with Ron Harris, Bobby Tambling, Peter Osgood and Gianfranco Zola.
When Frank leaves Chelsea, be it this season or in the next few years, he will be elevated to a position that no other player in Chelsea history has come close to. Personally I think he has to be compared with Sir Stanley Matthews and Sir Bobby Charlton when it comes to his contribution not just to Chelsea, but his contribution to the English game and world football as a whole.
A selection of memorable moments
I’ll sign out with one of the most obscure but most meaningful photos in Chelsea’s long and colouful history. It’s Frank on the phone, talking with and being congratulated by Bobby Tambling on his achievement. And that’s what Chelsea is really about. We’re a family and are proud of every player and the milestones everyone reaches, even when it surpasses our own.
We can describe Frank Lampard very easily in one word: Irreplaceable.
Photos courtesy Dave Sorrell, Michael Leaves and ChelseaTV