Peter Brabrook enjoyed memorable spells with both Chelsea and West Ham United many years ago, and the former winger, who also represented England, expects a tight affair when the two teams meet at Upton Park later today.
Brabrook, who ended his debut season with the Blues with a championship medal back in 1955, will be a keen observer as Rafael Benitez looks to inspire his Chelsea side to a first league win since last month.
However, with the Hammers equally in desperate need of a victory, having secured only one point from a possible nine, Brabrook feels it’s too close to call.
‘The rivalry was similar back then to how it is nowadays,’ he tells the official Chelsea website. ‘The supporters love their own team, you’re always going to get that, and even more so when it’s a local derby.
‘Chelsea need something under Rafael Benitez, they haven’t won a game yet under him and it would certainly help if they were to go to West Ham and get a result.
‘West Ham haven’t done particularly well over the last three games either, so it’s going to be a very close game.
‘It’s a must-win for both teams, West Ham don’t want to get caught on a bad run and end up down in the danger zone because being in the Premier League is so important to the club. Chelsea don’t have that problem, but they need a result because they haven’t had one for a while.’
His memories of securing the first league title in our history are fresher than might be expected given the length of time which has passed.
Brabrook was only a youngster when he was brought into the first team squad, but understandably recalls a magical period in his career as if it was yesterday.
‘When we won the league back in 1955, I was 17 years old and playing in the youth team. When I got the nod from Ted Drake, who told me I’d be playing on the Saturday against Sunderland, I just couldn’t believe it,’ he explains.
‘The game soon came along, we ended up getting the right result, I think it was 2-1, and on a personal note I felt I did quite well given the fact I was so young.
‘They were happy times, but when you’re winning football matches everybody’s happy, from the manager through to the players.’
Brabrook’s love for the game was such that once his boots were hung up for good, he was always, in some capacity, going to stay involved with football.
A coaching role at the academy of today’s opponents saw him work with two English midfielders Blues supporters have become rather familiar with over the years, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard, and it comes as no surprise to Brabook that the pair have gone on to enjoy such fruitful careers.
‘I worked with both Frank and Joe, two absolutely wonderful lads,’ he says. ‘I must stress that they are both great to their parents and families, and they were brilliant with me as well.
‘You didn’t really need to coach them, they were such great players, as long as you made it enjoyable for them that was all that mattered, and I was very fortunate to be associated with them.
‘It was so pleasing to see them go on and do so well for Chelsea after they left West Ham. What Frank’s achieved at the club has been marvellous, and nobody would be more proud than his lovely mum.
‘His dad follows him around the country, and I honestly wish Frank nothing but the very best, he’s been an amazing servant to this football club.’