Several thousand miles away from London, those Chelsea supporters who managed to make the long trip to Japan could only come up with one song when nothing much seemed to be going around in the clash against Monterrey:
We all hate Leeds and Leeds
Sums it up about perfectly. The anticipation for the clash between Chelsea and Leeds has been building up ever since the draw was announced. Even a gap of well over eight years since the two sides last met in a competitive fixture has done nothing whatsoever to quell this most bitter and unlikely of rivalries – a fact that was reflected in Leeds’s decision to cut down on ticket allocation to Chelsea’s travelling support after consultations with West Yorkshire Police.
A distance of well over a couple hundred miles would have usually meant that the two set of supporters would walk away with only a stiff curt nod in each other’s direction, but not with these two. Fuelled by the traditional North-South divide and the way in which the two clubs were perceived, the rivalry developed over the course of 1960’s when Chelsea and Leeds played out several important and fiercely contested matches, a trend which reached its zenith in the 1970 FA Cup Final.
During early 1960s, Leeds had begun to challenge on all fronts under legendary manager Don Revie and club captain Billy Bremner, widely regarded among Leeds faithful as their greatest-ever player. Chelsea too were coming back stronger under manager Tom Docherty and with a talented and experienced crop of players such as Peter Osgood, Ron Harris, John Hollins et al. consistently challenged for titles through the decade, often failing at the last hurdle – something that was about to change dramatically on that fateful day of 29th April 1970.
Chelsea 2-1 Leeds United
29th April, 1970
In what would turn out to be one of the most iconic games in the history of English Football in every sense of word, Leeds United took on Chelsea at Old Trafford in the replay of 1970 FA Cup final. The previous game, played at Wembley, had ended 2-2 with Chelsea’s No 10 Ian Hutchinson scoring a late goal to force a replay for the first time since 1912.
The game began at frenetic pace, exactly where it had been left on the Wembley pitch. The intensity of challenges was severe even by Chelsea and Leeds standards with players kicking and lunging at each other, the duo of Hutchinson and Hunter even punching each other at one point (the former being the only player booked during the game). The referee on the day, Eric Jennings however looked unperturbed as he allowed a previously unseen level of ferocity in the play to proceed alongside the football that was being played. Hugh McIlvanney later famously wrote about the game –
..at times it appeared that Mr Jennings would give a free kick only on production of a death certificate.
It was however a brilliant piece of skill that turned the fiercely contested tie on its head. In the 35th minute, Allan Clarke picked up the ball on halfway line and rode three unsuccessful Chelsea challenges before passing on the ball to Mick Jones who went on a blistering run to finish splendidly past Peter Bonetti, whom he had injured minutes ago. Leeds led 1-0 at half time.
In the second half, both Chelsea and Leeds continued to fashion chances, with Johnny Giles going close on a couple of occasions for Leeds. It was then in the 78th minute that one of the best moments in Chelsea’s history came. Exchanging a few passes in the midfield, Charlie Cooke floated a ball into the box and Peter Osgood finished the move by scoring a famous diving header past David Harvey, sending the Chelsea support housed in the Stretford End into ruptures. In doing so, Chelsea’s No 9 also became the last player till date to have scored in every round of an FA Cup campaign. With the score level at 1-1, the game again went into extra time.
With the intensity of play and injuries sustained during ninety minutes having drained most of the players, chances were hard to come by and sure enough, the deciding goal of the game arrived from a set-piece. Just before the conclusion of first half of extra time, Chelsea’s Ian Hutchinson sent in a massive throw-in and David Webb rose highest at the far post to give Chelsea the lead for the first time in the game, a lead that they managed to preserve in the second half.
Stretford End was rocking as the referee blew his final whistle. Chelsea had won the FA Cup for the first time in their history.