This Saturday it is half-a-century since Chelsea took on Leeds United on the way to ultimately, following a historic FA Cup final replay, lifting the famous old trophy for the first time in our history. To mark the anniversary and ahead of the game being shown in full on The 5th Stand app from tomorrow afternoon, club historian Rick Glanvill looks forward the game in the style of our modern day Pre-Match Briefing previews…
What a mouth-watering prospect this FA Cup final is: King’s Road Chelsea versus the Yorkshire grit of Leeds, Division One’s great showmen taking on last season’s league champions, in a Wembley showpiece carried live by satellite to millions of viewers worldwide.
After ‘Match of the Day’ showed highlights of our January league encounter, a seven-goal thriller in which the Blues were far better than the 2-5 scoreline suggests, it was swiftly elevated to ‘match of the season’ status. Now Dave Sexton’s men seek revenge for that sole home defeat of the campaign.
Blues midfielder Charlie Cooke, special guest at the Football Writers dinner a few days ago, voiced a warning to the Yorkshiremen that they ignore at their peril: ‘We’ll have to cash in on their mistakes – they’re bound to make the odd vital one. We’ll come down on them, make them pay.’
Paul McCartney shocked the world by leaving the Beatles yesterday, and it has been an FA Cup campaign of unthinkables too. Most people imagined the Blues would face Liverpool in the semi-finals rather than Watford, and Manchester United this weekend rather than their conquerors, Don Revie and chums.
There is no love lost between the Chelsea and Leeds squads and it will not be a timid affair: these are two formidable teams ready to match their opponent for skill, passing and toughness of mind as well as body in order to win.
It was the Londoners, though, who matched Spurs’ 1961/62 campaign record of 21 goals in qualifying for the final. And many neutral 18-year-olds, who have just been handed the vote, would surely put their cross next to the name of Chelsea today. Artful Leeds remain almost as popular in football circles as Yoko Ono is among Fab Four aficionados.
This cracker of a match is likely to produce long-remembered fireworks, with a new name inscribed on the old trophy whoever prevails.
Learning from Lilywhites
Mindful of the internal strife that marred the build-up to the ‘Cockney cup final’ against Tottenham three years ago under different leadership, Chelsea manager Dave Sexton has taken a grown-up approach to preparations. The players were permitted to spend Friday night at home with their families and told to report on Saturday morning at the regular home match rendezvous, Kensington’s Montana Hotel, for a pre-match meal.
Of course, there is nothing quite like a victory over Tottenham’s Cockerels to boost morale (well, maybe putting one over the Arsenal), and that is what Chelsea managed last weekend at the Bridge, by a goal to nil.
There was a Spurs connection to our qualification for this final too, as the semi-final against Watford was staged at White Hart Lane. The 5-1 was our second consecutive victory on that ground in the last four of this competition, following four there (including two replays) without success, and our biggest FA Cup score since 1952 – against Leeds.
If the rumours about the state of the Wembley national stadium’s pitch prove true – that it is still in as sorry nick as it was for the League Cup final last month – then it could really curb the flair of both sides in this spectacle. Again the Lane has proved helpful. With so much sand it resembled the Sahara desert and was a ‘dry run’ for Wembley.
The pride of London
‘I’ll be there all right,’ were Ron Harris’s defiant words about Wembley last weekend. The ever-reliable skipper’s hamstring injury required painkilling injections this week, but he came through a three-mile cross country run unscathed on Friday. Thankfully, young Ian Hutchinson also appears to have recovered from a bruised hip.
Although the plaster is off teenage prodigy Alan Hudson’s ankle following the ligament damage suffered at West Brom at the end of March, physio Harry Medhurst still had him using crutches as he watched team-mate Tommy Baldwin score the winner against Spurs last Saturday. Medhurst can be viewed below treating Hudson.
In Hudson’s absence, Peter Houseman, so effective on the wing throughout this FA Cup campaign, was initially deployed as a midfielder in last week’s derby, but reverted to the left flank as the second half unfolded. Charlie Cooke will be unleashed against injured right-back Paul Reaney’s stand-in Paul Madeley on the left, with Baldwin switching flanks.
Dave Sexton’s starting XI is therefore as follows: Bonetti; Webb, Harris, Dempsey, McCreadie; Baldwin, Hollins, Houseman, Cooke; Hutchinson, Osgood. Marvin Hinton will be on the bench.
Chelsea’s not-so-secret weapon
A feature of the meetings between the two finalists this season has been Sexton’s deployment of football’s equivalent to the medieval siege trebuchet: Hutchinson’s long throw. In January, for instance, those famous windmill arms hurled the ball a mighty distance, prompting havoc in the Leeds ranks. The ball was flicked on first by Dave Webb then John Dempsey, allowing Osgood to volley home at the far post. Wembley, remember, has even more space for run-ups than Stamford Bridge.
The men of the white rose
It is a measure of the threat posed by Don Revie’s Leeds team that six different players from all across the field have netted against Chelsea this season: Allan Clarke, Terry Cooper, John Giles, Mick Jones, Peter Lorimer and Paul Madeley. Notably, their winger Eddie Gray has been in top form of late.
Dave Sexton’s tactical antennae will also be twitching to see the role Revie sets out for Billy Bremner, who was redeployed from defence to attack (replacing the injured Clarke) to devastating effect in the second half of the Whites’ win at the Bridge in January – 10 years to the day after their captain made his debut on the same ground.
On top of that, of course, they apply intense physical and mental pressure to wear opponents (and referees) down, and not always on the right side of the regulations. Chelsea are one of few sides prepared to go toe-to-toe with them in that respect.
Sexton will hope that retiring referee Eric Jennings is vigilant against the kind of brutality meted out by Jackie Charlton and Norman Hunter on Peter Osgood and Ian Hutchinson back in January.
There is no let-up for Sexton’s men after this weekend, with tough away assignments at eighth-placed Stoke on Monday and Burnley, eight from bottom, two days later. Success would put us back in third above Derby, who are at home to Wolves on Wednesday.
With women’s football becoming legal again after a 50-year ban as of January, we have heard of moves to set up a Chelsea Ladies team from the ranks of our supporters and to apply to join a league in the not too distant future. Watch this space.
The Reserves concluded the season with a third straight defeat on the road at Birmingham, winding up 19th in the 26-club London Combination. Young South African Derek Smethurst finished top scorer with an impressive 11 goals in 28 matches.
FA Cup final regulations
Should the scores be level after 90 minutes, the match will enter a period of extra-time. A draw after the final whistle will mean a replay in 18 days’ time, this time at Old Trafford.Chelsea won the toss for first choice of kit in the first match and will wear the first choice strip of blue and white, with Leeds changing to red socks.
The matchday programme costs two shillings and contains features from our very own Albert Sewell. Most newspapers are producing cup final specials, and the Daily Express has song sheets so you may join in the community singalong before kick-off.
The Band of Royal Marines, conducted by Frank Rea, will play popular tunes such as ‘When You’re Smiling,’ ‘Underneath The Arches,’ and of course ‘Abide With Me’. Also included are the more partisan ‘Strollin’, the terrace anthem of Stamford Bridge and, for the folk from Yorkshire, ‘On Ilkley Moor Baht’at’.
For those watching from home, the BBC’s coverage begins at 11.55am with atmosphere-building scenes from Wembley, while profiles of some of the star players in both teams will kick-off ITV’s programming from 12 noon.
For absent friends
The near-certain omission of Bobby Tambling from today’s match means our greatest ever marksman has probably played his last game in royal blue, after a mere 202 goals in 370 outings. Up to now he has been the only Chelsea player ever to have scored in an FA Cup final.
We also remember Lambeth-born Len Withey, a director of the club since 1948 and chairman from 1968, but who sadly died in October last year. How Len would have loved to see his boys back at Wembley again.
Man United clinch first ever FA Cup bronze
Meanwhile, the inaugural play-off for third place in the FA Cup was staged at Highbury last night, with Manchester United beating Watford 2-0 in front of just 15,105 spectators.
The 5th Stand app will be showing the 1970 FA Cup final in full on Saturday from 3pm, matching the exact kick-off back in the day, and it will be doing the same at the end of the month for the FA Cup final replay. Saturday’s video will be available to view on demand any time after 3 o’clock UK time.The game will also be reported on this website and on The 5th Stand in the style of our Match Centre coverage from 2020.