An appeal has been launched for a memorial to one of Chelsea’s first goalkeepers, who is buried in an unmarked grave near the club’s stadium.
Jack Whitley, who played for Chelsea between 1907 and 1914 and coached the team until 1939, lies in Brompton Cemetery next to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea Supporters Trust is crowdfunding with the aim of collecting £5,500 to erect a memorial to Mr Whitley, whose 32-year commitment to the club included stints as the first team’s trainer, physio, and assistant manager.
Chelsea’s official historian, Rick Glanvill, said: “What makes Jack so special is that he’s the first Chelsea footballer we know to have his final resting place there.
“He is unique and it is so sad that his presence is completely unknown at present — we want to change that.”
Mr Glanvill said that he found out about the grave after coming across a reference to Mr Whitley and his wish to be buried close to Stamford Bridge in a book titled ‘Chelsea Champions!’
With the aid of the Friends of Brompton Cemetery, Mr Glanvill was able to locate the grave’s exact whereabouts.
On the plans for the memorial, Mr Glanvill added: “We are planning a very tasteful, ledger-type memorial, recognising Jack’s loyalty to the club and his dying wish.
“His grave is near the north entrance to the cemetery, so we hope supporters will stop and pay their respects to him on the way to matches.”
It is hoped that the crowdfunding will also help trace living relatives, possibly in the Wirral and Lincolnshire areas.
To get involved, donate on the JustGiving page at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jack-whitley-grave.