Charlie Freeman

Charles Redfearn Freeman (1887-1956) was born on 22 August 1887 in Overseal, Derbyshire and died in Fulham, west London on 17 March 1956. A gifted all-round sportsman, Freeman made over 200 senior appearances as a professional footballer and also played first-class cricket for Derbyshire. After establishing himself as an inside-forward at Chelsea, Freeman joined the Royal Flying Corps during World War One before returning to football following the Armistice. He died in 1956 aged 68.

Football Career 

Freeman’s football career began at local side Overseal Swifts before Burton United took him to Peel Croft ahead of the 1906/07 season. Having subsequently played 31 league and three FA Cup games for the Staffordshire outfit, Freeman moved to London in 1907 where he signed for Chelsea after a brief spell at Fulham. Despite then only playing four games during his first campaign at Stamford Bridge, Freeman would soon establish himself at the Blues and eventually racked up more than 100 appearances over the next seven seasons.

During the 1914/15 season, Freeman scored twice in 17 league and cup games but was not part of the Chelsea side that lost the 1915 FA Cup Final 3-0 to Sheffield United at Old Trafford, Manchester. In 1911, Freeman also played his sole first class cricket match for Derbyshire CCC, scoring seven runs in two innings against Northamptonshire.

After serving in the Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force during World War One, Freeman returned to Stamford Bridge to resume his footballing career but would play just two games during the 1919/20 campaign. His final game for the Blues came in a 3-1 loss at Bradford City on 24 January 1920, after which he joined Third Division South side Gillingham. After subsequently scoring 24 goals in 88 league and cup games, Freeman left Priestfield in 1923 and joined Maidstone United where he would finish his career. In total, Freeman made 208 league and 19 cup appearances during his career and scored 49 goals.

First World War Service

Air Mechanic 17935 Freeman joined the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) on 12 January 1916 and trained as a fitter mechanical transport (MT). He was then posted to the Southern Aeroplane Repair Depot (SARD) situated at Jersey Brow Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough, where he served with Chelsea teammates Harry Ford and Walter Bettridge. He was promoted to the rank of air mechanic 1st class on 1 August 1916 and then to acting corporal (unpaid) on 1 February 1918. He was then promoted to full corporal on 1 August 1918, four months after the RFC amalgamated with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) to form the Royal Air Force (RAF). Freeman was subsequently transferred to the RAF Reserve on 25 April 1919, before he was finally discharged from the RAF on 30 April 1920.





Season Club League Position FA Cup   League Games League Goals FA Cup Games FA Cup Goals
1905 Overseal Swifts              
1906/07 Burton United 20th (Second Division) R1   31 3 3  
1907 Overseal Swifts              
1907/08 Fulham 4th (Second Division) SF          
1908/09 Chelsea 11th (First Division) R2   4 3    
1909/10 Chelsea 19th (First Division) R2   9 2    
1910/11 Chelsea 3rd (Second Division) SF   18 2 5 1
1911/12 Chelsea 2nd (Second Division) R2   15 7    
1912/13 Chelsea 18th (First Division) R2   11 3    
1913/14 Chelsea 8th (First Division) R1   21 5 2  
1914/15 Chelsea 19th (First Division) F   15 2 2  
1919/20 Chelsea 3rd (First Division) SF   2   1  
1921/22 Gillingham 18th (Third Division South) R1   40 11 4 3
1922/23 Gillingham 16th (Third Division South) Q6   42 10 2  
1923 Maidstone United              
  Burton United       31 3 3  
  Chelsea       95 21 10 1
  Gillingham       82 21 6 3
  Totals       208 45 19 


A full list of sources used to create this page can be found here.