As the Blues prepare to face Manchester City in Sunday’s Carabao Cup showpiece, we recall the last time the two teams met in a Wembley final, back in 1986, when we came out on top in a nine-goal thriller…
The last meeting between the two teams at the national stadium may have been fairly recently, back in August’s FA Community Shield, but supporters of a certain age might not be aware of a memorable fixture played between Chelsea and Man City with a trophy at stake during the 1985/86 campaign.
The Full Members’ Cup was originally opened up to 32 teams in the top two divisions, but when it kicked off we were one of only five top-flight teams to have entered. Man City were also a First Division side at the time.
The teams were split into northern and southern sections, with the Blues winning our group courtesy of victories over Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic, before overcoming West Bromwich Albion on penalties in the regional semi-final.
A Kerry Dixon hat-trick helped us get the better of Oxford United in the regional final, setting up a Wembley date with Man City, and here we bring you some of the key facts from the game.
League and cup action…all in one weekend
The final had initially been due to take place on Saturday 1 March but Oxford, who were scheduled to play Man City that day, complained about their fixture being cancelled.
Their complaint was upheld, and with a midweek final expected to impact the number of supporters attending, the game was set for Sunday 23 March, with both Chelsea and City in league action the day before.
The Blues travelled to The Dell to take on Southampton and Colin Pates scored the only goal of the game to secure the points, while City had the small matter of a derby against Man United to contend with, a game in which they fought back from 2-0 down to earn a draw.
Unlike in the modern game, there was very little rotation in the 1980s. The Chelsea team which took to the field at Wembley was almost identical to the one which started on the South Coast 24 hours earlier, with just one change made.
Kerry Dixon missed out at Wembley through injury, with Colin Lee brought in to partner David Speedie up front – and what a significant decision it would prove to be as Lee went on to score two of our five goals on the day.
Lee, a striker by trade, had ended up playing at right-back for the Blues. But Dixon's absence at Wembley meant he was restored to an attacking role, and he slotted back in seamlessly with two well-taken goals.
The first since Hurst
In scoring a hat-trick, David Speedie became the first player to net three times in a match at Wembley since Geoff Hurst in the 1966 World Cup final.
John Hollins’ side had actually fallen behind in the game, before goals from Speedie and Lee turned the contest on its head prior to half-time.
We were firmly in the ascendancy when Speedie completed his hat-trick to make it 4-1 and Lee then added a fifth with his second of the game.
However, in a crazy last six minutes of the game City scored three times, including a Doug Rougvie own-goal, to bring the scoreline back to 5-4 and set up a frantic finish, with the Blues just about doing enough to hold on for a win which, for most of the afternoon, had seemed a certainty.
Big backing for the Blues
There were just under 70,000 supporters packed into Wembley for the final, a fantastic crowd given the early negativity surrounding the competition, and the fact both teams had been in league action the previous day.
For Chelsea, it was our first trip to Wembley since the 1972 League Cup final, when we were beaten 2-1 by Stoke City, and that was reflected in the backing the team received, with an estimated 60,000 of those inside the stadium supporting the Blues.
Thankfully, it was a day to remember as Pates went up to lift the Members’ Cup following a dramatic and entertaining game.
Pates’ perfect weekend
For our skipper Pates, the weekend couldn’t have gone any better. As well as scoring the winning goal in the league game at Southampton with a long-range strike, he then became the first Chelsea player in our history to lift a trophy at Wembley.
The 1970 FA Cup success eventually came at Old Trafford, while the Cup Winners’ Cup triumph a year later, which also required a replay, took place in Greece. Even when we won the League Cup in 1964/65 against Leicester City, the final was a two-legged affair with both sides playing a game at their own stadium.
The Full Members’ Cup may have lacked the history and prestige of those competitions, but for Chelsea at that time it meant a lot, as Pates explained:
‘Regardless of the competition, it’s great to play at Wembley with thousands of fans screaming their heads off, and once you’re on the pitch you don’t care what cup it is, you just want to win it.
‘People always ask if I was tired from the day before and it’s funny because in the warm-up I felt a bit ropey, but once the game kicked off and the crowd started singing all that fatigue went out of the window. The adrenalin kicks in.’
One of two
The win over Man City would be the first of two Chelsea triumphs in the competition, with another following in 1989/90.
By that time, the tournament was known as the Zenith Data Systems Cup and, after beating Crystal Palace 4-0 on aggregate in the regional final, we met Middlesbrough at Wembley with the trophy up for grabs.
The match itself was far from a classic, possessing nothing like the drama of the game against City, but Chelsea came out on top thanks to a superb first-half free-kick by Tony Dorigo.
It wouldn’t be the last time we would get to experience the feeling of beating ‘Boro at Wembley.