The London rivals haven’t always hated each other and in 1946, the Blues agreed to let Eddie Baily rejoin his beloved Spurs who has let his contract expire because they thought he had been killed in the War!
Tottenham and Chelsea’s rivalry is renewed on Saturday night, but there was once a time when the sides enjoyed a friendlier relationship.
You have to go back 72 years to find an example, though. It involved Eddie Baily, the brilliant inside forward in Spurs’ first league title triumph.
Baily was on Spurs’ books as an amateur in 1939, but his career was put on hold as a result of the Second World War, with the exciting youngster being sent to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany with the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
However, rumours he had been killed in action soon made their way back to north London and his registration was allowed to lapse. Unaware, Baily returned to Britain to find himself without a club and so decided to sign for Chelsea.
John Fennelly, the Spurs historian, explained the error was only spotted when Baily dropped by White Hart Lane to collect his kit and staff saw he was very much alive. Chelsea, after having the mix-up explained to them, released Baily from his contract and in February 1946 he was a Tottenham player again.
“In a team of class performers, Baily was the true star,” Fennelly told tottenhamhotspur.com.
He made his Tottenham debut in January 1947 and by 1950 he was a Division Two champion, with the club winning their first top flight crown a year later in the swashbuckling ‘push and run’ side under Arthur Rowe.
But he was more than just one of Spurs’ best players. His flair and intelligent play saw him stand out and you’ll find almost every mention of his name hailing him as one of the best inside forwards of his generation.
The great Bill Nicholson was his team-mate in the 1950/51 side and he later brought Baily in as his assistant manager in 1963 where it wasn’t uncommon to hear him use wartime metaphors in his pre-match pep talks such as ‘right, bayonets on’ or ‘over the top. Let’s have them!’
He left with Nicholson in 1974, having won two League Cups, the FA Cup and UEFA Cup with the club, on top of his playing honours.
He retired from football in 1992 and died in 2010 at the age of 85, but his status as a Tottenham icon had been established long before then.
They may not be able to stand the sight of each other now, but the Spurs faithful certainly owe a huge thanks to their bitter London rivals.
Tottenham v Chelsea is live on talkSPORT on Saturday, kick-off 17:30