Tue, 13 Feb 2018
FORMER Chelsea FC star Phil ‘Corky’ McKnight – who is now a resident at Hungerford Care Home – has made an emotional return to Stamford Bridge.
In the year when Corky made his debut for Chelsea, King George VI was on the throne and a top England player’s annual wages were around £1,000.
Now aged 93, Mr McKnight went back to watch his old team in action.
The adventure was organised by staff at the care home.
On demobilisation from the Royal Navy in 1946, Mr McKnight debuted for Chelsea FC, at the age of 23 years and 10 months.
He stayed on at Stamford Bridge for eight seasons, making 33 appearances, before being transferred to Leyton Orient, where he was a regular for seven seasons and a member of the Division 3 (South) championship side in 1956-7.
After that, he held coaching and managerial roles at Orient, Hayes and Ruislip Manor.
Hungerford Care Home manager Bella Balaci said: “As you can see, football was practically in his blood.
“It was our privilege to achieve a dream of his to go back and visit Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club, one more time.
“We contacted the club and they were pleased to help.”
And so it was that on Sunday, January 28, Mr McKnight set out with two other football fanatics from the home – care assistants Vali Joita and Gabi Cutoi.
Wearing his Chelsea FC hat and scarf, Mr McKnight was given a hero’s welcome at Stamford Bridge, where he was greeted with a glass of Champagne and a meal.
He was then taken to a special hospitality area for former club players to watch the match.
And – to add on the cake – Mr McKnight cheered his old team on to a 3-0 win against Newcastle.
Ms Balaci said: “He had a fantastic experience and got very excited every time Chelsea scored.
“We were just honoured and happy to help.”