Chelsea will be wearing our yellow second strip when we take to the Wembley pitch to face Liverpool in this season’s FA Cup final, but it is far from the first time we have worn that colour in a cup final. Here are some facts from those previous matches you might not know…
This will be the third time we have worn yellow in an FA Cup final and the sixth time in a final overall. We were in all yellow in the 2009 FA Cup final and had yellow shirts for the second leg of the 1965 League Cup final, meaning this is only the second time the Blues have played in yellow shirts in an FA Cup final.
However, the distinctive yellow socks and stripes on the shorts of the 1970s era also made appearances in the 1970 FA Cup final replay, the 1972 League Cup final and both games of the replayed 1971 European Cup Winners’ Cup final.
That means the colour yellow has been associated with several firsts for the club, as we were wearing it the first time we ever triumphed in the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup, the latter being our maiden European trophy.
Here are some other facts about those five previous finals in yellow you might not know…
Instead of medals, the winning Chelsea players who featured in the second leg of the 1965 League Cup final at Leicester were each presented with a silver tankard to mark their achievement. The Blues players didn’t seem to mind missing out on a medal, though, as their shiny new tankards were instantly put to good use when they toasted their success with champagne, although most of the post-match refreshments ended up spilt down their yellow shirts.
Under a minute
The 2009 FA Cup final didn’t start in the best of circumstances, as we went behind to Everton at Wembley after just 27 seconds. Louis Saha smashed a loose ball in the box past Petr Cech to score the fastest FA Cup final goal ever, but the Frenchman and his team-mates weren’t celebrating for long, as strikes from Didier Drobga and Frank Lampard gave us a 2-1 win and interim boss Guus Hiddink’s only trophy with Chelsea.
One of a kind
The Football Association gave Chelsea a single additional winner’s medal after the 1970 final to be awarded to 18-year-old Alan Hudson. The playmaker had starred in that season’s FA Cup run but was devastated to miss the final due to an ankle injury. As the FA insisted it was slightly different from the medals given to the 12 men who played at Old Trafford, or those given out in other years, Hudson ended up in possession of the only one of its kind.
Our victory over Everton in the 2009 FA Cup final saw Ashley Cole pick up his fifth winner’s medal in the competition, triumphing in the world’s oldest club competition for the second time with Chelsea, in addition to his three previous victories at Arsenal. That made him the competition’s most successful player of the professional era, as the last time somebody managed to lift the trophy five times was well over a century earlier in the 1800s. He would go on to successfully defend the trophy the following season and lift it with Chelsea again in 2012, giving him the all-time record of seven FA Cup winner’s medals.
Many Chelsea supporters were famously unable to remain in Athens for the extra two days to see our 1971 Cup Winners’ Cup final replay triumph over Real Madrid, but the heartbreak of missing out was made even worse by just how close we came to winning the first game in 90 minutes. Chelsea were leading 1-0 so far into added time that the trophy had already been brought out to the touchline, complete with blue ribbons, ready for the presentation. Unfortunately, a slip by David Webb and slice by John Dempsey allowed Zoco to equalise with the last kick of normal time, a goal which the referee allowed to stand despite the raised flag of the Swiss linesman.
The 1970 FA Cup final replay in Manchester ended with Chelsea lifting the famous old trophy for the first-ever time, and it was the first time the final had gone to a replay since it moved to Wembley in 1923. It was fitting the occasion arrived at Old Trafford, the same stadium which had hosted the Blues’ debut in an FA Cup final, when we were beaten 3-0 by Sheffield United in what became known as the ‘khaki cup final’ of 1915, due to the number of military uniforms visible in the stands during the First World War.
Frank Lampard celebrated his winning goal against Everton in the 2009 FA Cup final in unusual fashion, by joyously dancing a circuit around the corner flag. It was a tribute to his father and one of the proudest moment’s of Frank Lampard Senior's own football career. The elder Lampard had celebrated the same way after scoring a famous FA Cup goal for West Ham United against the Toffees in a semi-final replay, which gave them a 2-1 win with two minutes left of extra time.
First knockout cup
The League Cup was still a relatively new competition when we faced Leicester City in the 1965 final, only in its fifth year, with Chelsea not having taken part in two of the previous editions. Unusually for a cup final, the new competition staged it’s showpiece over two legs, both played on Monday evenings, with three weeks separating the first match from the second at Filbert Street in early April. As Leicester were at home in the decisive second leg, the game ended with the rare sight of a team lifting a cup trophy at their opponents’ stadium, not that the Blues cared as we became the first London club to win the League Cup.
Chelsea have only ever lost a final while wearing yellow once, in the 1971/72 League Cup. On that occasion we were denied our third trophy in as many years, following the FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup, both while wearing the same yellow socks, by a 2-1 defeat to Stoke City at Wembley. It was the Potters’ first major piece of silverware in their 109-year history, largely thanks to a string of saves by legendary England goalkeeper Gordon Banks.
The 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds United was referee Eric Jennings’ last game before retirement. Incredibly, given the ferocious challenges flying in from both sides, Jennings only issued a single booking, to Chelsea’s Ian Hutchinson for shoving Billy Bremner to the ground in retaliation for the Leeds skipper hacking at the floored Peter Osgood. The replay has since been ‘re-refereed’ twice via video footage, by David Elleray in 1997 and again by Michael Oliver on the 50th anniversary in 2020. In contrast to Jennings’ lenient approach, Elleray declared he would have issued six red cards and 23 yellows, while Oliver went even further, deeming 11 red and 16 yellows necessary.
The final time
Our 2-1 victory in the second game in Athens in 1971 was the last time a replay was used to determine the outcome of a Cup Winners’ Cup final, as it had already been decided the new rule introducing penalty shoot-outs at the end of extra time would be in place for the competition the following season. The penalties format proved so successful it was soon adopted across all European tournaments, with the last continental final won in a replay coming three years after our triumph, when Bayern Munich beat Atletico Madrid in the 1974 European Cup final.
Superstitious Chelsea manager Dave Sexton accredited our 1970 FA Cup final replay victory to the increasingly lucky blazer he wore on matchdays, distinctive by its missing button, which he refused to replace. ‘I knew we were going to win when another button came off just before the kick-off,’ claimed Sexton. ‘It seemed just to appear in my hand and I put it in my pocket for luck.’ It certainly seemed to do the trick, as of the 240 minutes of gruelling football across the two games, Chelsea only led the last 16 of them in the replay at Old Trafford, but that was enough for him to become the first Blues boss to claim the trophy.
The 1972 League Cup final may not have given us a trophy, but it did provide a lasting and popular piece of Chelsea history in the form of club song ‘Blue is the Colour’. The squad recorded the song, which reached number five in the UK charts, ahead of that final and despite our loss to Stoke it remains a favourite for Blues fans to this day, meaning it has provided the soundtrack to many trophy successes over the years since that disappointing day in 1972.
Chelsea’s 1965 League Cup-winning manager Tommy Docherty was known for putting his trust in young players, as shown when eight of the 11 players who started for ‘Doc’s Diamonds’ in the second leg of the final against Leicester had come through our youth system. However, it was two experienced defenders in their 30s born just weeks apart – John Mortimore and Frank Upton, the latter a late inclusion not named on the team sheet, replacing another youth product John Hollins who was ruled out with a hamstring injury – who played vital roles in securing the clean sheet we needed to triumph on aggregate after winning 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Mortimore and Upton were both at the ends of their Blues careers, playing their last games for the club later the same month.