Chelsea 1 Manchester United 0

Division Two - 13 April 1906

‘Chelsea are really a better side than the United – at least, so some of the best of the Northern critics tell me,’ wrote ‘Citizen’ of the Daily Mirror on Good Friday 1906, ‘and Londoners look to see them successful. This should prove a record gate.’ The match he previewed brought together two glamour sides ardently aiming to reach the top flight: the ‘Cock of the North’ and the biggest new club in the capital.

The Mancunians were in second in Division Two behind Bristol City. London’s leading lights could overtake them with a victory on home soil and claim one of the two promotion slots. The religious holiday brought fine weather for the workers on a rare day-off and a remarkable crowd of 67,000 did indeed have Stamford Bridge thronging just as Gus Mears and Fred Parker must have dreamed it.

The second clash of this enduring rivalry ended like the first, at United’s Clayton ground on Christmas Day, in a draw. The mighty Foulke had saved a penalty from Bonthron to keep the score 0-0 in that earlier game and when United’s manager berated his player for failing, Bonthron retorted that Foulke’s presence between the sticks was so great there was nowhere left to aim.

The Easter return was a tight affair with defenders on both sides repelling all attacks. After a goalless first half the game sprang into life in the second when ‘to the dismay of the great crowd’ Charlie Sagar was found unmarked in the Pensioners’ box and opened the scoring.

The hosts rallied but it was not till 10 minutes from the end that reward came. ‘[Tom] McDermott got the equalising goal after a corner kick and the delight of the crowd was not to be forgotten,’ reported the Manchester Guardian. ‘Some of the Chelsea players were carried off the field by enthusiastic admirers, but no one had the courage to offer a pick-a-back to Foulke.’

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