John "Joe" Mears
Former Chairman of the Football Association 1963-1966
Former Chairman of Chelsea F.C. 1940-1966
Former Royal Marine during WWll
John "Joe" Mears
Born 20th Jan 1905
Died 30th June 1966 aged 61
Birth Place Oslo Norway
Mears was the son and nephew of Chelsea F.C. founders, Joseph and Gus Mears respectively. He was a goalkeeper for the Old Malvernians before joining the Chelsea board in 1931, in doing so becoming the youngest director (aged 26) in the Football League. He became Chelsea chairman in 1940 following the death of Colonel Crisp. Mears was a Royal Marine during the Second World War, and his duties included the security arrangements for Prime Minister Winston Churchill's bunker.
Joe joined up in 1940 and carried out basic training in Stonehouse Barracks & Fort Cumberland, before being drafted to Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisation 1 (MNBDO 1). He fought in the German invasion of Crete, was evacuated to Egypt, and served with a Royal Marines anti aircraft battery in Ceylon. Returning to there UK in the Empress of Canada, he was sunk by submarine off Freetown, but completed the journey safely in the Mauretania. Then he served at Chatham and Deal and finally the London Duties Company, before being demobbed in 1945.
Mears' tenure as chairman of Chelsea saw them win their first First Division title in 1954–55, and it was he who subsequently gave in to pressure from the Football League for the club not to take its place in the inaugural European Champions Cup the following season. He later managed the representative London XI side during its 1955–58 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup campaign; the team reached the final, losing on aggregate to FC Barcelona. His son Brian was also a chairman of the club.
Mears became chairman of the Football Association in 1963. As such, he was a key figure during England's preparations to host the 1966 World Cup, and was involved in the furore when the Jules Rimet trophy was stolen. It was he who received the ransomnote from the thief, and was subsequently involved in the trophy's recovery.