Easter football has long been a tradition of the English game. We may not have any Easter Monday fixtures to keep us occupied this season, but we can still look back at some memorable victories on the Bank Holiday in previous years.
The Easter holiday was traditionally a festival of football, with teams frequently playing several fixtures over a few days. More recently the number of games has reduced, with the weekend’s regular fixtures spread over four days instead of two. However, there is still no shortage of glorious Easter Monday wins from the modern era and Chelsea history to enjoy.
1 April 2013
A 2-2 draw at Old Trafford meant Easter Monday was set aside for an FA Cup sixth-round replay against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. The Blues were in need of a confidence boost following a Premier League defeat at Southampton two days earlier and, while it was far from a classic performance, the victory was no less memorable for revolving around two key moments. They both came in the second half and it was Demba Ba’s brilliant goal that is best remembered, leaping and stretching to guide Juan Mata’s pinpoint pass past David De Gea with an airborne volley. However, just as impressive was Petr Cech’s save 10 minutes later, somehow reversing direction and adjusting his body to keep out Javier Hernandez’s back-post header. The 1-0 victory was something of a turning point in Rafa Benitez’s time as Chelsea manager and the stand-out result to that point, until he guided us to Europa League glory in Amsterdam.
12 April 1982
On the face of things this was a fairly uneventful match, as we defeated Crystal Palace 1-0 in Division Two thanks to Clive Walker’s first-half strike. However, it was a significant moment in Chelsea history at Selhurst Park, as a young winger was handed his Blues debut by manager John Neal, coming off the bench to replace our goalscorer. That winger was Paul Canoville, who became the first black player to represent the club at first-team level in the process. He went on to make 103 appearances for us, scoring 15 goals. This match was also notable as the final time brothers Graham and Ray Wilkins played alongside each other for Chelsea, as the elder Graham made the last of his 149 appearances before leaving at the end of the season.
22 April 1957
Our biggest Easter Monday victory came at home against Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge and owed much to an impressive second-half performance from the Blues. The legendary Jackie Milburn actually gave the Magpies the lead, but thanks to Les Stubbs and Peter Brabrook (above) we were back level at 2-2 by half-time. After the break, there was only one team in it, though. Just two minutes into the second period Brabrook scored again to put us ahead, and we never looked back as Ron Tindall’s goal and a brace from Jim Lewis gave us a 6-2 win.
12 April 1993
This west London derby was a tight affair settled by a flurry of late goals. Things were looking straight forward when Dennis Wise put us ahead from the penalty spot and Gareth Hall got a second, either side of half-time, but Wimbledon responded almost immediately through Dean Holdsworth. That’s the way it stayed at Stamford Bridge, with the visitors applying heavy pressure as they pushed for an equaliser, until the last 10 minutes. Then a quick double salvo from John Spencer (above) and Neil Shipperley made our lead safe, even if Wimbledon still refused to give in and pulled another one back through Lawrie Sanchez.
30 March 1964
It’s fair to say Nottingham Forest must have been sick of the sight of us at Easter in the Sixties. It started in the hectic schedule of 1964 when, two days after a thrilling 4-3 win at Birmingham with all seven goals scored in the first 40 minutes, we hosted Forest at the Bridge on Easter Monday. A long stalemate ensued, before it was finally broken in the 90th minute by Barry Bridges’ late winner. The next day we travelled to the City Ground to face the same opponents in the return fixture, winning 1-0 again, this time through a Bert Murray goal. Our next Easter Monday victory came two years later and followed a very similar pattern. It came two days after a high-scoring victory, this time 6-2 over West Ham, and again the Bank Holiday itself was reserved for a 1-0 win over Forest at the Bridge, Bobby Tambling (above) getting the goal early on. The following evening brought another trip to Nottingham, Tambling inflicting more pain on our opponents by getting both goals in a 2-1 win.
1 April 1929
We may ultimately have fallen short of our target of promotion to the top flight, but we gave ourselves a great chance with this win over top-of-the-table Grimsby Town. Unsurprisingly the league leaders made us work hard for it. We first took the lead through Reg Weaver after 14 minutes, but conceded less than a minute later. Willie Jackson put us back in front, but we were pegged back a second time after the break. It took until the closing stages to finally decide the match in our favour, as unlikely scorer John Townrow found the net for the second of his three goals in six seasons with Chelsea to give us a 3-2 win, closing us in to within five points of promotion.