Tomorrow it will be exactly half-a-century since a game that created a generation of Chelsea fans and featured an astonishing display by the late Peter Bonetti, plus two of the most famous Blues headed goals of all-time, and we are showing it in full on The 5th Stand…
It is the second-most watched sporting event in UK television history. Only the 1966 World Cup final was watched by more. Even popular soap opera Eastenders has only beaten the 28.5 million viewers for the Chelsea versus Leeds FA Cup replay of 1970 just once – with a famous Christmas Day edition.
Put simply, what had developed into an epic between two of the biggest teams in the country had captured the imagination of the nation 50 years ago.
The FA Cup final was one of the only games that could be watched live back then anyway, so to have a double helping of this tie was a big bonus and both BBC and ITV screened the replay live, on a Wednesday evening half-a-century ago tomorrow.
As we did with the first game at Wembley, we will be screening the full replay ‘as live’ tomorrow on the 5th Stand app, with a 7.30pm kick-off time as it was in 1970. Tomorrow this website will have a preview of the game in our current-day ‘Pre-Match Briefing’ style and to run alongside the video viewing, there will be a Match Centre on this website and on the app. If you can’t watch at 7.30, the game will be available to view on demand afterwards.
We told the story of the first game at Wembley with a Pre-Match Briefing and Match Centre two-and-a-half-weeks ago, and the 2-2 draw at Wembley with Chelsea coming from behind twice and forcing extra-time with our second equaliser close to the end of normal time had certainly whetted the appetite.
It had also left some simmering feuds and if you thought that first game was brutal by present day standards, you wait for the replay! These two teams did not like each other and no one gave an inch.
Recently, one of the current Premier League referees Michael Oliver re-refereed a video of the game for The Telegraph newspaper and applied modern standards, and he sent off 11 players, one of them twice! He handed out 16 bookings in total.
One victim of a crunching challenge was goalkeeper Peter Bonetti who was sadly lost to us this month, the day after the anniversary of the first game during which he was outstanding. Tomorrow night is the chance to see another side of the legend that is ‘The Cat’ – his bravery as, in the days before substitute goalkeepers, he plays on and makes important saves while significantly injured in a way that would never happen today.
Fans who were at Old Trafford that night say the reception when the strapped-up Bonetti emerged from the tunnel later than the rest of the team for the resumption of the game and was therefore continuing on was spine-tingling.
Leeds United have also lost one of their all-time greats in recent days. Norman Hunter can be seen playing in this FA Cup final replay too. It is a classic of its time and of course the first occasion Chelsea lift the famous old trophy.
For more on what to look out for when the game is shown tomorrow on The 5th Stand at 7.30pm UK time, check our Pre-Match Briefing here tomorrow.