The cup holders travel six miles from Stamford Bridge to Griffin Park this weekend for a rare London derby. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look at the fourth round facts and figures…
Tickets for this rarest of west London fixtures are perhaps the most sought-after for a Chelsea fixture since Munich. It is the champions of Europe versus League One play-off aspirants and Griffin Park is expected to swell with its largest crowd for three decades.
The tie is resonant with the romance of the FA Cup, of which the Blues are current holders. It might be one of those encounters that is talked about for years, though there is very little of the historic enmity that adds bite to meetings with our other neighbours, QPR and Fulham.
The Bees will, of course, be buzzing. They are currently third in their division, the third tier of English football, six points behind the top two. Their striker Clayton Donaldson is second top scorer at that level with 15 and has struck four times in four matches in all competitions.
Yet like Chelsea, Brentford's home form has not been as impressive as away performances. This will be their fourth successive fixture at Griffin Park and only the first of those, a replay in this competition against Southend, produced a win.
That was their fifth game in this competition to date, compared to Chelsea's one, the 5-1 thrashing of fellow Barclays Premier League side Southampton at St Mary's. One of the Bees' victims was Capital One Cup finalists Bradford City, a further reminder to the London's leading lights that in football nothing can be taken for granted.
This is the first occasion we will have played local rivals Fulham, QPR and Brentford all in the same season.
It is in fact our first competitive visit to Griffin Park for 63 years, though there have been plenty of pre-season and benefit matches between our two teams. One amusing incident came during Eddie Lyons' Testimonial at Griffin Park in May 1984, a 6-2 win for the Blues.
Leon Lenik, a former catering manager at Chelsea who had taken a similar role at Brentford, came on as a substitute - a condition on supplying the food for the event.
Lenik had trained occasionally with the Chelsea squad in his time on the Fulham Road and had impressed in Mickey Droy's benefit game against Arsenal a year earlier. Now an opponent, though, when Kerry Dixon called out 'Leon, give me the ball!' familiarity led Leon to pass to his former teammate, who promptly scored one of his five goals that night.
A reserve team final, London Challenge Cup, was also contested on 10 December 1964 with the Bees beating a Blues side featuring a young Peter Osgood among others 2-1 in front of just under 6,000 spectators.
One or two of the Blues' present reserves, or Under-21s, who may be involved on Sunday will know more about this stadium than their senior colleagues as they play some home games there.
It is a charming ground where younger Blues fans will enjoy standing on a terrace for the first time in their lives. Sadly, the early kick off time may prevent a visit to the four pubs that famously stand at each corner.
The Blues, winners of four of the last six finals in this competition, have a proud record against lower league sides to protect. Our only defeat in a situation such as this since Millwall in 1995 was at Barnsley in March 2008.
The draw for the fifth round of the FA Cup will take place on Sunday at approximately 5.45pm and will be covered live on ITV 1 and FATV.
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
WE HAVE HISTORY
There have been many close ties between our two sides stretching way back over the years, beginning with William Lewis stepping into the breach when our first player-manager, Jackie Robertson, resigned midway through our second season on 28 November 1906. The Bees' former secretary-manager steered the Pensioners to our first ever promotion at the end of that season before making way for David Calderhead.
Several players have switched directly from one part of west London to the other, including Fred Rouse, Fred Taylor, Seamus D'Arcy, Johnny Brooks, Eric Parsons, Micky Block, Stewart Houston, Lee Frost, Graham Wilkins, Petar Borota, Colin Lee, Keith Jones and Joe Allon.
Future England manager Ron Greenwood made the short trip in 1952. His fellow 1955 league title winner Frank Blunstone was a later Bees manager who steered them to the FA Cup fifth round and promotion in the 1970s.
1970 FA Cup winners also enjoyed the connection. Tommy Baldwin played out his career at Griffin Park, Ron Harris was a player/coach there in 1980, while Dave Webb managed the club in the mid-Nineties.
However, Chelsea and Brentford meet for only the 12th time in competitive football. Ten of these were in the old First Division between 1935 and 1947.
Our most recent meeting was in fact our only previous cup tie: the FA Cup third round match on 7 January 1950 that took the Pensioners - 10th in the old First Division - to Brentford - 12th in the old Second Division.
It was the first all-ticket match in Bees' history and such was the desire to attend the tie that thieves broke into Brentford's offices at Griffin Park the Thursday night before the game. They found no match tickets but contented themselves with stealing wines, spirits from the boardroom and some footballs.
Even the night before the match some people were thwarted trying to break into the ground to hide in the stadium overnight.
There was a bumper (legit) crowd of 38,000 in attendance on the day, a hefty increase on the average 22,600 going to Griffin Park for league matches. Older supporters report seeing four visiting fans carrying a coffin around the stadium before kick-off marked 'Brentford FC' - it was adapted for each subsequent round of the Pensioners' progress.
Chelsea's main worry ahead of a potentially tricky trip up the road had been the fitness of skipper and centre-forward Roy Bentley who, along with fellow forward Bobby Campbell (pictured below), was eventually declared fit to play.
Future Blue Ron Greenwood (who began his career at Stamford Bridge during the war) started for Brentford.
Chelsea were better away from home at the time but it was still a tight affair. The Pensioners' flame-haired Aberdonian inside-right Jimmy Bowie (already well known in the area as a Hounslow player) opened the scoring in the 17th minute with an opportunistic but perfectly executed lob over the hosts' goalie Alf Jefferies.
It would prove the only goal of the game, Chelsea eventually making it to the semi-finals that year. Bowie later joined the Bees (via Fulham) in 1952, the same time Greenwood switched to Chelsea.
The teams that day were:
Brentford Alf Jefferies, Fred Monk, Walter Quinton, David Nelson (c), Ron Greenwood, Tom Manley, John Goodwin, James Anders, Billy Dare, Bill Sperrin, Dr Kevin O'Flanagan. Manager: Jackie Gibbons
Chelsea Harry Medhurst, Danny Winter, Billy Hughes, Ken Armstrong, John Harris (c), Frank Mitchell, Billy Gray, Jimmy Bowie, Hugh Billington, Reg Williams, Bobby Campbell. Manager Billy Birrell
Although we haven't met in competition for over six decades, we have played several pre-season friendlies and post-season testimonials.
Here are the most recent:
|May 9 1978||Griffin Park||Chelsea won 8-2|
|Aug 6 1980||Griffin Park||Brentford won 3-0|
|May 14 1984||Griffin Park||Chelsea won 6-3|
|Aug 15 1984||Griffin Park||Chelsea won 3-0|
|Aug 10 1987||Griffin Park||Chelsea won 3-0|
|Jul 20 1989||Harlington||Chelsea won 4-1|
|Aug 11 1990||Griffin Park||Chelsea won 6-0|
|Aug 6 1991||Griffin Park||Brentford won 4-3|
Chelsea v Brentford in all competitions
Games played 11
Chelsea wins 6
Bees wins 4
Biggest win at Brentford for each team
Brentford 0-2 Chelsea - 15/03/1947 (Old Division One)
Brentford 2-1 Chelsea - 28/03/1936 (Old Division One)
Chelsea were beaten by a third tier club in the FA Cup: 8,400
Brentford reached the FA Cup fifth round: 2,555
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,807
Liverpool won the league: 8,302
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.