History

Remembering Chelsea’s first game in Munich: 1860 in 1966, tremendous Tambling and post-match revelry

There is every chance you know all about our two most recent matches in Munich, particularly that final in 2012, but what about our first visit to the Bavarian capital, over 50 years ago now?

Our opponents were not Bayern, yet to establish themselves as Germany’s most successful side, or indeed the best in the city. No, it was TSV 1860 Munich who Tommy Docherty’s Chelsea played in an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup quarter-final in 1966.

The two-legged tie came during our first major run in European competition, at a time when was there was much excitement in England about football in general, and plenty of interest in opposition from overseas. The country was only months away from staging the World Cup.

The Fairs Cup, which although not organised by UEFA is generally considered the forerunner of the UEFA Cup/Europa League, had idiosyncratic qualification requirements. We entered as the 1965 League Cup winners.

An exciting young Chelsea side had already seen off Roma and AC Milan when we travelled to West Germany, fresh from an impressive 2-0 victory over Manchester United in front of 60,000 at Stamford Bridge. London was enjoying an early Spring, but the players landed in Munich to freezing temperatures and snow.

‘Warmed only by the continuous cheers of their followers, who, throughout the game, gave as good and more than they got in a stadium filled with some 12,000 spectators, Chelsea took a long time to acclimatise themselves to the conditions,’ reported The Times.

A Blues team with an average age of 23 went behind to a well-taken goal by Wilfried Kohlars, ‘a nicely-balanced wing-half with a flair for attack’, in the 18th minute. Chelsea weathered a storm and then conjured up an equaliser, with much of the credit going to the speedy Barry Bridges, who turned defence into attack and found Terry Venables in space. His shot was cleared off the line, but there was poacher supremo Bobby Tambling to force home the loose ball. 

That was 10 minutes before the interval, and 10 minutes after it Chelsea went ahead. George Graham collected a trademark Peter Bonetti throw on halfway and slipped in Tambling, who finished with aplomb.

With a quarter-of-an-hour remaining 1860 Munich drew level, Friedhelm Konietzka capitalising on a mistake from the otherwise impressive John Hollins. 2-2 it finished, with Chelsea seemingly having ‘done enough to have ensured themselves of a place in the last four’, according to The Times. They were not wrong, as a Peter Osgood goal a fortnight later secured a semi-final berth. It was there our great rivalry with Barcelona would begin, an epic tie requiring a play-off before the Catalans eventually prevailed.

The result in Munich was seen as a great success, and was worthy of some post-match celebrations Bobby Tambling recalled only too well in his autobiography. It is no surprise to learn the tie’s matchwinner, Osgood, was heavily involved!

‘That game was played on snow and we thought it would not be played,’ Chelsea’s second all-time topscorer remembered.

‘They were a good side who were on their way to winning the Bundesliga title that season, and they had a brilliant goalkeeper, Petar Radenkovic (a Yugoslav international). To go over there and get a 2-2 draw was a tremendous performance. Their marking was so intense, almost man-for-man all over the park, so we were absolutely delighted to come away with that result.

‘When we got back to our hotel, they’d put aside a private room for us at the back and all of the journos, who would typically stay in the same place as us, were in the main part of the restaurant,’ continued Tambling.

‘Doc was on a real high, as we all were, and he kept ordering more and more bottles of champagne for all the lads. The waiters had to walk past all of the reporters to bring it out to us, and among the press pack was a lad who wasn't a football correspondent. His name was Laurie Pignon and he had his own ‘Opignon’ column in a tabloid paper called the Daily Sketch. He was usually a tennis reporter and he was really very posh, but a lovely chap.

‘After they brought the umpteenth bottle through to us, Laurie poked his head through the door and shouted: “Hey Ossie, any chance of that champagne reaching the rest of us, old chap.”

“No problem, mate - give me a second and I'll bring one out for you,” Os replied.

‘In front of Ossie was a bottle that was about a quarter full, if that. By the time it reached the press boys in the main restaurant, it was three-quarters full, and it hadn’t been topped up with champagne, let's put it that way. A few moments later, Laurie came bursting through the door. “Hey Ossie, you want to get your bladder tested!” ’

For TSV Munich, the Bundesliga triumph in 1966 would prove the high-water mark in their history. They have not won the competition since, unlike their city rivals who have done so 29 times. Having shared the Allianz Arena with Bayern for a number of years after its opening in 2006, they are now back at the Gruenwalder Stadium they met Chelsea at all those years ago, competing in Germany’s third tier.

Chelsea’s European exploits, meanwhile, were only just beginning…

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