Stamford Chidge & Martin King interview Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris, a Chelsea legend infamous for his hard tackling and Chelsea’s Captain in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and most successful captain for nearly 30 years.
795 appearances and a career going from the 1960’s Docherty’s Diamonds to the gloom of 1980. There can’t be any better servants of Chelsea than Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris. Chelsea’s first FA Cup & European Cup Winners’ Cup winning Captain, ‘Chopper’s’ 18 year Chelsea career as an uncompromising, talented defender was notorious for getting his “late tackles in early”.
Martin King & Stamford Chidge talked to Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris about the Cup wins, playing with Peter Osgood and against George Best, ‘Dirty’ Leeds and his love affair with Chelsea and the fans that has lasted well over 50 years.
An FA Youth Cup winner in 1961 Chopper made his senior debut in February 1962 in a 1–0 win against Sheffield Wednesday. By 1963, he had established himself as a regular in the side, a position he would hold for the next eighteen years. During that time, Harris solidified his reputation as an uncompromising – yet talented – defender with a series of strong (and sometimes notorious) performances.
His first honours with Chelsea came with a League Cup win over Leicester City in 1965. He became club captain the following year when Terry Venables left for Tottenham Hotspur and became the youngest ever captain to lead out a side in the 1967 FA Cup Final, although Chelsea lost 2–1 to Tottenham.
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He got his glory three years later leading Chelsea to their first FA Cup in 1970 against Chelsea’s arch rivals Leeds United. During the replay at Old Trafford Chopper got his ‘late tackles in early’ particularly on Leeds’ playmaker Eddie Gray after just eight minutes leaving Gray a virtual passenger for the rest of the match: Chelsea famously winning 2–1 after extra-time.
1971 saw Harris lift Chelsea’s first major European trophy – the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup – in another replayed final against Real Madrid in Athens.
As Chelsea’s famous Kings of the Kings Road side was broken up amid player and manager bust ups and financial meltdown due to the proposed Stamford Bridge redevelopment Harris remained ever-present in the side throughout a decade which saw them relegated twice and promoted once.
Over an 18 year period Chopper was rarely out of the first team. In 10 seasons he averaged 41 league games out of 42 and in 5 other seasons he averaged over 37 games. He finally left Chelsea in 1980 having played a record 795 games, a record unlikely to ever be surpassed and he remained the Club’s most successful Captain until Dennis Wise in the 1990’s.
Ron Harris Chelsea Statistics
|Matches as Captain||338|
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- European Cup Winners’ Cup – Winners: 1970–71
- FA Cup – Winners: 1969–70; Runner-up: 1966–67
- Football League Cup – Winners: 1964–65; Runner-up: 1971–72
- FA Charity Shield – Runner-up 1970
- Football League Second Division – Runner-up: 1962–63, 1976–77
- FA Youth Cup – Winners: 1960–61
- Chelsea’s Most League Appearances – 657
- Chelsea’s Most FA Cup Appearances – 64
- Chelsea’s Most Appearances in Total – 795
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