Ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup tie between Chelsea and Leeds United, we look at why it is a pairing that has resonated down the ages…

Described as ‘an almighty clash of brute force’ in its 1970s heyday, this is a fixture the Blues have only lost once in ten meetings since 2003. A comfortable 2-0 victory against David O’Leary’s ‘young team’ that January was followed by more of a throwback a year later.

The visitors led 2-1 until 12 minutes from the end, but Frank Lampard equalised and then delivered a cross at the death that Dominic Matteo skewed past his own ’keeper for the winner.

The Londoners’ 1-0 victory on the final day of the 2003/04 season was momentous simply for providing the Stamford Bridge crowd with a final sight of the Yorkshiremen for more than 16 years.

On Leeds’ return to the Premier League in 2020, although former Blue Patrick Bamford opened the scoring, Olivier Giroud, Kurt Zouma, and Christian Pulisic turned the game on its head to win 3-1.

Going back further – ninety years ago this month to be exact – the great Hughie Gallacher was among the Pensioners’ goalscorers in the heftiest result this fixture has witnessed: 6-0 to Chelsea. Five of those came after the break.

War of the roses

At Kirkstall Forge just outside Leeds, there is a marker recording the halfway point between London and Edinburgh, 200 miles each way. By any reckoning that must make Chelsea-Leeds, south versus north, Tudor Rose against White Rose, one of the longest-distance football feuds in Europe.

While Tommy Docherty’s Blues swung into the Sixties and embraced the cultural trailblazing, the Whites, under non-nonsense Yorkshireman Don Revie, retained a straight-laced demeanour.

A series of high-level violent cavalier-versus-roundhead encounters forged the hostility that has followed, culminating in the 1970 FA Cup final and replay.

For all their drama and occasional brilliance, the two tussles could have carried a parental guidance banding. The enmity spilled into wider football’s consciousness because a club football record 28.49m UK TV viewers bore witness.

The pot and plot simmered through further bad-tempered affairs in the Eighties – a prime example being the 5-0 in 1984 as the Londoners were promoted and Leeds fans smashed the Stamford Bridge scoreboard – and Nineties, when the nine men of Yorkshire held out for a 0-0.

Leeds were relegated from the top flight, after a 1-0 Blues victory back in May 2004. Ironically, both clubs had gambled on success through borrowing, but while Leeds foundered on the repayments, Chelsea had already been bought by Roman Abramovich.

The Whites entered a period of turmoil, at one stage dropping down to the third tier and only finally winning promotion back to the Premier League in 2020 under the guise of Marcelo Bielsa.

Old foes meet again

Although the rivals have not been regularly re-acquainted during the 21st century, the sparks still fly when two teams meet.

After Leeds United were promoted back to the top flight for the 2020/21 season, two clashes behind closed doors followed. A 3-1 win at the Bridge preceded a 0-0 draw at Elland Road, the games seeing a reunion on the touchline between old 'Spygate' managerial foes Frank Lampard and Bielsa.

But perhaps the best modern meeting between the two came in late 2021, as new life was breathed into the rivalry between the two clubs during a five-goal classic.

Mason Mount and Jorghino's goals had cancelled out an early Leeds penalty to put us on course for the win. But the visitors' substitute Joe Gelhardt beat Edouard Mendy with only seven minutes left on the clock.

Enter Jorghino to save the day. A last-gasp foul on Antonio Rudiger gave the Italian a second penalty of the day, he didn't miss and Leeds had to make the long journey back up to Yorkshire without a point.

The two sides again faced off again in 2022/23. Leeds won 3-0 at Elland Road in August, before a Wesley Fofana goal secured the Blues a 1-0 win at the Bridge in March. Our old foes went on to be relegated at the end of the season.

Yet the magic of the FA Cup will ensure the two sides still meet for the fourth season in a row.

We were drawn together in round five of the 2024 competition, our first meeting with Leeds in this tournament since that famous 1970 final.

And whatever happens tomorrow evening at Stamford Bridge, expect this old-school rivalry to continue to produce fireworks every time north meets south.