Peter Sillet: Ashford famous footballing face

Looking back at the sporting career of Peter Sillet: a tribute to the former Chelsea right-back and England international.


As we approach the business end of the football season but wait in excited anticipation of this year’s European Championships, CommunityAd thought it would be fitting to pay homage to the former Ashford player and manager Peter Sillet who not only was part of footballing history helping Chelsea win their first league title, but also represented England on three occasions.

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Photo courtesy of Duncan Holley and his wonderful website

Born in Southampton on 1st February 1933, Peter’s dad Charlie was a full-back for The Saints and Peter would take the torch from his father starting his youth career at Southampton before breaking into their senior squad, playing three years for them before making the move to London where he signed for a fee of £12,000 for Chelsea in 1953.

Keeping it in the family, Peter’s younger brother John also followed the same footballing path starting out at Southampton and getting signed by Chelsea, a year later than Peter, in 1954. John, however, wouldn’t make his Chelsea debut several years later in 1957.

Under Ted Drake, Peter became an established full-back; a strong, imposing defender with an eye for goal, Sillet scored 34 goals for The Blues, holding the record of being the club’s highest-scoring defender before a certain John Terry broke that record.

The majority of Sillet’s goals were free-kicks or penalties and his most important goal for the club came when he rifled a penalty in against Wolves to help them win 1-0 on the way to securing the club’s first-ever division championship in the 1954-55 season.

Peter built a reputation for being one of the most explosively powerful dead ball kickers of his era with Chelsea legend and captain of the 1954/55 league-winning side Roy Bentley also describing him as one of the greatest passers of a ball he has ever seen and the first man in the game that could regularly produce 100-yard passes directly to a teammate.

Peter’s England International debut came in May 1955 when, at 22, he played a full game in a losing effort against France (0-1). Sillet gained two more caps that month against Spain (1-1) and Portugal (1-3 loss).

At 25, Peter was named in Walter Winterbottom’s 22-man squad for the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, however, the right-back didn’t play any games and The Three Lions endured an extremely disappointing tournament, finishing 3rd in their group and getting knocked out by the Soviet Union (0-1) in the play-off. Despite Peter’s exceptional footballing skills, it was regarded by many that his laid-back style, modest attitude and reputation as a poor trainer were the reasons he wasn’t picked as much as she should have been for his country.

Described by Sir Stanley Matthews as “the best full-back in the world, the tireless and touch-tackling defender remained at Stamford Bridge until June 1962 after a broken leg suffered in August 1961 effectively finished his top-flight career. Peter moved to Guildford City for a few seasons before joining Ashford Town as player-manager in 1965. After a few seasons at The Nuts & Bolts, Sillet took over at Hastings United and gained promotion after finishing as runners-up in the Southern League Southern Division in 1981-82. A return to Ashford came next for the former right-back who helped the side win promotion in the 1986-87 season, finishing as runners-up again in the Southern League. During Peter’s nine-year tenure at Ashford, he not only won promotion for the club but also inspired them to an FA Trophy semi-final.

Peter became a well-loved figure on the semi-professional football scene and would later work as a scout for Coventry City between 1987-1990 when John was manager of the club.

After a long fight against cancer, Peter Sillet, survived by his three sons and daughter, sadly died aged 65 in March 1998.

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