At the finish of the 1954/55 season, Chelsea had been topped champions of England for the first time in their historical past, they usually have been invited to take part in the inaugural European Cup event that had been created for the following season. It was a singular probability for the Blues to determine themselves as certainly one of the main groups in Europe.
Chelsea, for causes which are nonetheless not absolutely understood at this time, allowed themselves to be bullied by the xenophobic Soccer League secretary, Alan Hardaker, and complied together with his instruction to not compete, permitting Hibernian to take their spot from Scotland. The next season, Manchester United’s Matt Busby was resistant to Hardaker’s intransigence and ignored his edict, main the first English group to play in the competitors.
In colluding with Hardaker’s myopia, the Chelsea board had made a catastrophic error of judgement. The chance to compete in the unique model of the European Cup by no means materialised once more. Inside simply six seasons they have been enjoying in Division Two and their star striker, Jimmy Greaves, had been whisked off to Italy.
In April 1970, Chelsea had overcome their nemesis and bitter rivals Leeds to say their first ever FA Cup after a replay. Consequently, they might make their debut in the Cup Winners’ Cup. The loyal supporters on the Shed might sit up for a future with unbridled optimism, as might the celebrities set who flaunted their egos at the Bridge. Chelsea have been the group of the second.
The aspect that triumphed in the remaining was strengthened by the return of precocious teenage tyro Alan Hudson, who had missed the finish of the season by way of damage, and the addition of the highly-rated winger, Keith Weller. Chelsea had proven themselves to be snug when enjoying European opponents having progressed to the semi-finals of the Inter-Cities Festivals Cup in 1965, dropping in a playoff to Barcelona. Chelsea had won each home honour; it was now time so as to add a European trophy to the cupboard.
The optimism that greeted the arrival of the 1970/71 season didn’t final lengthy. Chelsea have been defeated at house by Everton in the Charity Defend and Manchester United dispatched them from the League Cup in October. The Blues’ supposed title problem by no means actually materialised they usually ended the season in sixth.
Chelsea had been suffering from inconsistency, and star striker Peter Osgood was banned for eight weeks as a part of an FA crackdown on betting. To compound their distress, the defence of the FA Cup didn’t progress past the fourth spherical as Manchester Metropolis humiliated Chelsea at the Bridge with a crushing Three-Zero defeat. The optimism that greeted the arrival of the new season threatened to get replaced by despondency.
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The one trophy left for Chelsea was the Cup Winners’ Cup, and the membership have been making wonderful progress in the event as they dispatched Aris Salonika, CSKA Sofia and Membership Brugge to say their place in the semi-finals. The opposite sides at this stage have been Actual Madrid, holders Manchester Metropolis and PSV Eindhoven. After their disastrous cup debacle, it was maybe Sod’s regulation that Chelsea would face their English rivals.
Each side have been decimated by damage issues for the tie. with Chelsea lacking goalkeeper Peter Bonetti, Eddie McCreadie, Ian Hutchinson and Osgood. Metropolis have been missing their most prolific forwards in Mike Summerbee and Francis Lee, in addition to influential midfielder Colin Bell. Dave Sexton, the Chelsea supervisor, gambled on a brand new ahead pairing of defender David Webb and the comparatively unknown South African, Derek Smethurst, who wrote himself into Chelsea folklore by scoring the solely objective in a 1-Zero win.
For the return leg at Maine Street, Chelsea have been boosted by the return of Bonetti, whereas Metropolis, though strengthened by the availability of Summerbee, had misplaced the providers of goalkeeper Joe Corrigan, which proved to be decisive. Massive Joe’s alternative, the inexperienced Ron Healey, endured a depressing night time.
Simply earlier than half-time, with Metropolis urgent for the opening objective, Chelsea have been awarded a free-kick. Keith Weller hadn’t observed the referee signalling that it was oblique so hit it instantly in the direction of the objective. In trying to make a save, Healey clumsily fumbled the ball into the internet to offer Chelsea the lead and a decisive away objective. If the ‘keeper had left the shot the goal wouldn’t have counted. Chelsea followers began to consider that their identify was written on the cup.
The ultimate was scheduled to be performed in Athens at the residence of Olympiakos, Karaiskakis Stadium, 19 Might 1971. Chelsea’s opponents have been the undisputed giants of European soccer, Actual Madrid.
Luckily for the Blues, Actual weren’t the European superpower of the 1950s, however have been affected by distinctive skills nonetheless. They narrowly missed out on profitable LaLiga to Valencia by simply two factors however the workforce was nonetheless powered by the fabled members of the “generación ye–ye”, which had dominated the league in the mid-1960s and delivered the 1966 European Cup.
This group of gamers, which included Amancio, Pirri, Ignacio Zoco, Ramón Grosso and Manuel Velázquez, nonetheless carry a legendary standing amongst followers of the membership at present, and have been mentored by the legendary Paco Gento, winner of six European Cups and nonetheless a first-team common at 38. Their sobriquet displays the proven fact that they have been typically photographed as a gaggle sporting Beatle mop-top wigs.
Surprisingly, regardless of Actual’s first-class renown, in the days earlier than the mass saturation of soccer, Chelsea have been remarkably unaware of their opponents. John Dempsey later recalled: “We didn’t know an awful lot about their players.” Nevertheless, given the detailed dossiers that Don Revie compiled on Leeds’ opponents maybe this was extra a mirrored image on Chelsea and their unwavering give attention to themselves.
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The Bleus’ main headache involved who was going to attain their objectives, which had been the drawback all season. Osgood had managed simply 5 league objectives, the similar as midfielder John Hollins. The absence of Ian Hutchinson, an avid collector of overseas cash in response to Charles Buchan’s Soccer Month-to-month, who had missed most of the season by way of damage, had dented the aspect’s scoring functionality. Particularly they misplaced the menace of his potent lengthy throws, which had been so decisive in the FA Cup remaining replay. Luckily, summer time signing Keith Weller offered 13 objectives throughout the marketing campaign to justify his acquisition.
Over Four,000 Chelsea followers made the journey to Athens to type a part of a 45,000-strong crowd. The match was additionally proven reside on BBC, a luxurious which had been denied to followers of Manchester Metropolis once they won the competitors the yr earlier than.
As Greece had been underneath the management of a army junta since 1967, each side have been paraded round the athletics monitor by flanks of troopers earlier than getting into the pitch. Some accounts state that Chelsea had come to an association with the native Greek followers that they might help Panathinaikos in the European Cup remaining at Wembley later that month in the event that they received behind the Blues in Athens.
Perhaps the locals selected to again Chelsea as a protest towards their corrupt and violent Greek generals, provided that Spain was additionally underneath the management of an identical regime headed by Basic Franco? In contrast to Chelsea, the Actual staff waved a Greek flag earlier than the match, which could have been seen as an indication of solidarity with the junta.
Chelsea, with Charlie Cooke in dazzling type, dominated the first half with out creating any clear-cut possibilities. Eleven minutes into the second half, John Boyle crossed and the ball ricocheted off a Actual defender. Osgood then buried the rebound into the nook of the internet and proceeded to have fun with an impromptu head over heels show.
Osgood had solely been capable of play after a collection of cortisone injections in his knee, which meant he was unable to final the entire match, however the gamble labored. Actual, with Pirri beginning to develop into influential in the match, hunted keenly for an equaliser, creating a number of possibilities, however the aim wouldn’t come.
With barely a minute remaining, the Chelsea followers and gamers might see the trophy with blue and white ribbons being transported to the aspect of the pitch. Earlier than the remaining whistle might be blown, nevertheless, John Dempsey made an entire hash of a clearance and Zoco, who had been unwittingly performed onside, volleyed the ball into the internet. Chelsea had someway snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Dempsey was inconsolable, positive his mistake had value Chelsea the cup. He was right.
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The momentum was now with Actual, who created a number of alternatives to complete the recreation off in extra-time, however some stout defending and a collection of extraordinary saves from Bonetti, who justified the supervisor’s determination to recall him after a bout of pneumonia, ensured that Chelsea held on for a draw. Most commentators and Chelsea followers felt that they had been fortunate to carry on. Maybe their identify was nonetheless on the cup in any case.
Though penalty shootouts had been used for the first time that season in the Cup Winners’ Cup, with Honvéd beating Aberdeen in an earlier spherical, no such association was in place for the ultimate itself. It quickly turned obvious the UEFA hadn’t even thought-about the risk of the want for a replay as no earlier ultimate had ever required one. After a flurry of bureaucratic exercise, it was determined to host the replay simply 48 hours later in the similar venue.
This brought on numerous points for the Chelsea followers, who had travelled out on package deal offers costing £30, roughly £400 in as we speak’s costs. Frantic telephone calls have been made to employers and households again in England to increase their keep. Most followers had scant assets left to finance an prolonged sojourn in the Greek capital however, amazingly, a number of Greek hoteliers let supporters keep on in their lodging at lowered charges and even free of charge.
Many resorted to sleeping on the seashores, so hovering temperatures of as much as 90 levels have been a blessing. Some have been even allowed to kip in the native bars, courtesy of beneficiant Greek hosts. For a lot of followers, it was by no means a problem – they have been going to remain to help the workforce. For one participant, it was an issue. John Hollins was on account of be greatest man at a marriage that day and his mom insisted he return house.
Sexton garnered a popularity as a strict taskmaster over the years however with Chelsea now having two additional days in Athens, he realised a special strategy was wanted. He gathered the gamers and advised them that he wasn’t going to place any restrictions on them; they have been free to spend the Thursday nevertheless they wished. This was music to the ears of a sure trio – Osgood, Cooke and Baldwin – who instantly headed off in a taxi at 11am to the poolside bar at the Athens Hilton. After becoming shorts and flip-flops, rum punches, cocktails and bottles of Greek beers have been now the order of the day.
Later that afternoon, Alan Hudson, who wasn’t precisely famend for his abstinence, headed to the lodge on his approach again from a go to to the native flea market and was flabbergasted by the sight that greeted him: “They were downing these tropical punches like they were on an end of season tour.” Hudson voiced his concern, mentioning that they have been enjoying their most essential recreation of the season the subsequent day and that three of them have been legless.
Osgood invited Hudson to hitch them for a drink. It was certainly one of the few events in his life that he turned down such a suggestion. Osgood, noting his teammate’s concern, calmly stated: “You go home and have an early night, you’ve got to do the running for me tomorrow … leave it to me, I will win the game for us.”
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At the time, Osgood had been revealed to be the object of want for 1960s intercourse image, Raquel Welch. No marvel he felt that nothing was past him. After a bender that had lasted almost 10 hours, Baldwin, Cooke and Osgood ultimately clambered again to the staff lodge at 9 in the night; evidently not the greatest preparation for the remaining the following day. Hudson later mirrored: “It was the most frightening confidence … but he had done it time and time again. Nothing fazed him.”
Sexton made one change for the replay, changing Hollins with Tommy Baldwin. Unbeknown to Sexton, Hudson was nonetheless affected by the lingering impact of a lifeless leg from the first recreation. Decided to not miss one other remaining via damage, he assured Sexton that he was match, whereas Osgood wanted one other cortisone injection to start out the match. Actual made two modifications, with Gento being changed by Manuel Bueno and Miguel Perez by Sebastián Fleitas.
On account of the sudden nature of a replay being required, the attendance was greater than halved, with a crowd of simply over 19,000 current, the Chelsea help noticeably outnumbering the Madrid trustworthy.
Chelsea stared the livelier of the two sides in the first half, dominating possession and creating a number of possibilities on a bone dry enjoying floor. Actual didn’t produce a shot on the right track till the 30th minute although Chelsea have been lucky to flee the award of a penalty when a cross discovered Amancio free from his man. He broke into the penalty space however, as he was about to shoot for objective, he was blatantly shoved in the again by Ron Harris and stumbled to the floor. It appeared an apparent penalty, however the referee took no motion, a lot to the fury of the Spanish coaches and the media.
In the area of simply six minutes, the future of the trophy was determined. On 33 minutes, Charlie Cooke floated in a nook that was met by the head of the villain of Wednesday, John Dempsey. The ‘keeper punched it away however straight to Dempsey, who volleyed it virtually instantaneously into the prime of the internet. With the aim, Dempsey demonstrated why his earlier membership, Fulham, had typically performed him as an emergency striker, solely dropping his place to the new signing Allan Clarke. Chelsea followers watching at house have been bemused to see the aim credited to David Webb on their screens.
Six minutes later, the indefatigable Baldwin slipped the ball via to Osgood, taking two defenders with him as he sprinted for the return cross. As area all of a sudden appeared in entrance of him. Osgood bent the ball from the fringe of the space into the nook by way of the publish. It was a end that demonstrated the chic striker at his imperious greatest. He had additionally stored his promise to Hudson.
As soon as once more, Osgood had to get replaced as the results of the cortisone wore off. As Chelsea have been on the brink of introduce substitute Smethurst, Fleitas set off on a run and unleashed a stinging shot from the fringe of the space that nestled in Bonetti’s objective. The Madrileños redoubled their efforts and began to pile on the strain.
With simply 15 minutes remaining, Chelsea weren’t about to throw the trophy away for a second time, and with the defence nicely marshalled by Harris and Webb and a few wonderful saves by Bonetti, they held agency. The whistle blew and Chelsea had won their first ever European title.
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A gaggle of Chelsea followers invaded the pitch to rejoice with their heroes as captain Ron Harris collected the cup. Amidst the euphoria, no one appeared to have observed that John Boyle had run straight over to the Madrid bench to make sure he might swap shirts with the legendary Gento.
Chelsea had undoubtedly been the stronger aspect over each matches and deserved to carry the Cup Winners’ Cup. Earlier than the last, Amancio had said that they wanted to cease Cooke to win. They failed. Hudson shook off the results of his lifeless leg and was dominant in midfield, whereas his counterpart Pirri had sprained his arm and was unable to impose himself as he had in the first recreation.
While the pre-match shenanigans of the Athens Hilton crew can be frowned upon at the moment, when it mattered most that they had all carried out to the peak of their talents. The supervisor, Dave Sexton additionally deserved credit score for adopting a extra attacking formation, altering from Four-Three-Three to Four-Four-2, permitting his workforce to grab the initiative from the begin.
After the match, the workforce and supporters celebrated collectively in the environs of the Athens Hilton, the place that they had organized to remain after the ultimate. Most of the gamers have been nonetheless inebriated as they boarded the aircraft house the following morning, however that definitely didn’t cease the champagne flowing throughout the flight.
On arrival in London, the gamers have been genuinely stunned by the variety of supporters that have been ready to greet them and, as their open-topped bus departed, celebratory banners seemed to be hanging over each bridge on the M4. The squad went straight to Chelsea City Corridor, for the second time in 12 months, to be introduced to hundreds of jubilant followers. Blue definitely was the color.
The longer term appeared shiny for Chelsea. The usually dour Dave Sexton had managed to maintain his staff of maverick playboys beneath his management and had discovered a system of enjoying that introduced out the better of their particular person skills. In 19-year-old Alan Hudson, he had considered one of the brightest prospects in soccer, and the likes of Osgood and Harris have been nonetheless solely in their mid-20s.
It was a second to savour although it’s truthful to state that Chelsea’ s first European title – their final for 27 years – by no means actually acquired the accolades and acclaim it deserved. They have been the first English aspect to defeat the mighty Actual Madrid in a European remaining. Absolutely having fun with the limelight, Osgood boasted to anybody who would take heed to him at the City Corridor reception that Chelsea have been set to turn out to be the biggest staff that London had ever seen. Seeing as Arsenal had simply carried off the league and cup double, it was some declare, particularly if he had recognized what hubris was to await him.
Inside 4 years, Hudson and Osgood had been bought and Chelsea had been relegated to Division Two. No one might’ve predicted such an consequence, however the decline of the Cup Winners’ Cup champions is one other story ready to be advised.
By Paul Mc Parlan @paulmcparlan