English culture in the 1980’s was a time of social & political revolution – Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, the country was at war, riots were raged on our streets & football terraces and Trade Unions were fought and mostly defeated – a lot of this revolution could be mirror imaged in the corridors at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea Football Club in the early 1980’s were teetering under the weight of crippling debts following an ambitious plan to redevelop Stamford Bridge; the cost of construction of the East Stand escalated out of control after shortages of materials and a builders strike meant that the remainder of the plans came to a shuddering halt – the board acted and on 2nd April 1982 Chelsea was sold for £1 to Vice Chairman of Wigan Athletic and Businessman Ken Bates, thus ending a 77 year association with the Mears Family who had founded the club in 1905.

Ken Bates had a vision for Chelsea, a plan for a ‘new Chelsea’ and the first manager to put these ideas into place was John Neal, who had remained in place, rather surprisingly after a disastrous season in the old Second Division finishing fifth from bottom narrowly avoiding relegation to the Third Division for the first time in the clubs history, older Chelsea fans can testify, Ken Bates did things his own way.

In the Summer of 1983 Ken Bates rode up to Elm Park – home of Reading FC – in his Rolls Royce to seek talks with a young centre forward, who despite a turbulent time at youth level, had been making a name for himself in the lower divisions with Dunstable and Reading, a striker named Kerry Dixon.

After being introduced to the manager John Neal, assistant Ian McNeill and coaching staff which included club legends John Hollins and Peter Bonetti at the teams pre season training base in Aberystwyth; Dixon wanted to discuss the transfer with his parents and have a nights sleep to mull everything over, it was obvious that Ken Bates was a hard man to say no too.

Saturday 27th August 1983, Kerry Dixon made his Chelsea debut at Stamford Bridge against Derby County, what followed was to set a trend for the rest of his Chelsea career, Dixon laid on an assist for Clive Walker and bagged himself a brace in a 5-0 win for the Blues; two more goals came against Brighton Hove Albion and Dixon bagged all four goals in a win at Gillingham taking him to nine goals in his first six games – fair to say he hit the ground running, the Stamford Bridge faithful had a new hero.

The season ended with 34 goals for Dixon and those goals took Chelsea to the Second Division title despite starting the campaign as 25/1 outsiders. Dixon also received the Golden Boot for finishing the season as the League’s top scorer; a crowning moment of a glorious debut season.

Chelsea were now back in the First Division – where they belong, an opening fixture against London rivals Arsenal had been pulled from the fixtures computer. It seemed like the fixture computer had a sense of humour; Arsenal took the lead through a Paul Mariner header, but four minutes later Dixon scored arguably the most iconic goal of his Chelsea career. Doug Rougvie floated a free kick into the Arsenal penalty area, the ball bounced up, almost in slow motion Dixon lashed a volley towards goal, the ball rebounded off Pat Jennings legs and Dixon reacted quickest volleying in the rebound – the Clock End at Highbury erupted, pandemonium amongst the Chelsea faithful.

Dixon once again ended the season with the Golden Boot – sharing the accolade with Gary Lineker, Dixon becoming the first ever player to win the award over three divisions.

England Manager Bobby Robson could not help but take notice of the striker, Dixon made his debut for England in an Under 21 game against Finland due to a shortage of strikers; qualifying for the match as an over age player – nevertheless, Dixon scored in a 3-1 defeat in Finland.

Despite being picked as a member of England’s World Cup Squad for Mexico 86, Kerry Dixon’s England career never really ever got going, perhaps not through lack of form or a shortage of goals, far from it, it was maybe due to the unfortunate timing of being a truly great striker in an era of great English strikers in Gary Lineker, Peter Beardsley, Mark Hateley and Chris Waddle; Dixon’s England career ended with a respectable four goals from eight senior caps – most notably scoring twice and assisting Bryan Robson in a 3-0 win over West Germany on that summer tour in 1985.

England’s loss was Chelsea’s gain – Chelsea mounted a title challenge during the 1985-86 season, Dixon suffered torn stomach muscles in an FA Cup match against Liverpool, the striker’s injury coincided with a slump in league form with the Blues ultimately finishing sixth. The injury robbed Dixon of much of his pace, it was said in some quarters that he was never quite the same player again.

Manchester United and Arsenal – whom Dixon was close to joining – were frequently linked with bids for the Chelsea striker, who, despite dressing room unrest, wanted to remain at Stamford Bridge and after seeking talks with manager John Hollins – he remained at the club; to the joy and relief of the Chelsea supporters

Chelsea struggled in the ensuing two seasons, and the club were ultimately relegated to the Second Division in 1988 after defeat in a two legged play off with Middlesbrough, this relegation, however, seemed to somewhat rejuvenate Dixon, who alongside Gordon Durie and Kevin Wilson formed a formidable trio with Dixon scoring 25 goals as Chelsea stormed to the title and an instant return to the top flight; this title and the one he won in his debut season were the only honours Kerry Dixon won with the club – well if you count the Zenith Data Systems as a trophy!

The season back in the First Division saw Dixon score a further 26 goals which included a final day of the season hat-trick against Millwall to help Chelsea finish fifth – their highest league finish since 1970, Dixon remained at Stamford Bridge for a further two seasons, although Chelsea finished in mid table in 1991 and 1992.

Kerry Dixon left for Southampton in the summer of 1992 – he departed Stamford Bridge having scored 193 goals in 335 appearances for the club – he is behind Frank Lampard and Bobby Tambling as Chelsea’s third highest all time goal scorer.

After spells at Luton Town – a spell which included an emotional FA Cup semi final at Wembley against Chelsea; Chelsea went on to win 2-0, Millwall, Watford, Doncaster Rovers and Non-League Basildon United, Dixon hung up his boots and briefly went into management.

For a generation of supporters, supporters who remember the days of upheaval, uncertainty and frequent failure on the pitch, there was one man, one player who offered a shining light in some dark days.

There is only one Kerry Dixon.