Chelsea 2 Sparta Prague 0

Friendly - 19 March 1957

Noteworthy primarily for the first use of the 170-foot high floodlights at the Bridge by a senior side – though Chelsea’s Juniors had played a private evening match just before this official opener to test, adjust and flaunt the new sparklers. The visitors, reigning champions of Czechoslovakia, boasted nine internationals including Kadraba, Hertl and Hledik, and five of the national team that had defeated the fabled Hungarians 4-2 on their home patch a year earlier.

Thirty thousand Londoners turned up to witness the stylish, overplaying Czechs flounder on solid Chelsea defence and swift counter-attack. The Blues won 2-0 with goals from Les Allen (father of later Chelsea player Clive) and Derek Gibbs, both former Chelsea Juniors.

‘If candlelight is kind to the human face,’ enthused one reporter, ‘then floodlighting certainly lends a magic to a football arena.’ The novelty of the excitable weeknight match atmosphere, where noisy thousands become one in the dark and the pitch is lit up like a theatre, led to the introduction of the League Cup in 1960/61.

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