If you didn't join in tonight's #CFCWatchParty, here's a reminder of how our historic game at Bolton unfurled...
‘This is what we’ve been waiting for; what we’ve been dreaming of. It’s the best day of my life.’Frank Lampard
There have been so many incredible days for Chelsea supporters over the years that asking them to narrow their choice down to just one favourite is akin to encouraging them to select their favourite child.
For those long enough in the tooth, it may be the Blues defeating Sheffield Wednesday to become league champions in 1955. Perhaps it’s David Webb’s extra-time goal to win the FA Cup for the first time in a bitter tussle with Leeds United, or Roberto Di Matteo’s early-doors blockbuster to bring the trophy back to the Bridge after 27 long years. For the younger members of our fan base, it’s likely to be the moment Didier Drogba calmly slotted home the penalty which confirmed Chelsea as champions of Europe for the first time, with Di Matteo now the man in the dugout.
However, for the 4,000 Blues fans who made the trip to the Reebok Stadium – and many more who were tuning in to Sky Sports – on a balmy late afternoon on the last day of April in 2005, there is one game which takes some beating.
It was the fixture which Jose Mourinho had picked out all of six months earlier as the game when Chelsea would become champions; a match which had John Terry and Frank Lampard speculating the night before: ‘Imagine scoring the goals that win Chelsea the Premiership...’
Plenty of players who have turned out in Blue over the years must have harboured similar thoughts. There was certainly enough time do so: since our previous triumph 50 years earlier, there had been nine Prime Ministers, 900 number one records and more ‘sleeping giant’ and ‘underachiever’ references to Chelsea than one would care to count. But, since the inception of the Premiership in 1992, only three different teams had been crowned champions. Now was the time to make it four.
However, our opponents, Bolton Wanderers, had been one of the few sides to trouble the Blues at Stamford Bridge and one of only two teams to have scored twice against us in a game throughout the Premier League season. The threat and physicality of Sam Allardyce’s side, combined with the weight of the Premier League trophy, contributed to a first-half performance Chelsea fans hoped had been consigned to history under Mourinho.
‘We knew the team was tired,’ recalled Steve Clarke in Chelsea FC: The Official Biography. ‘We were limping along, we were missing key players and we needed to win the game. We wanted to win it there and kill it. It was just motivation. Jose said, "I need more from you".
‘How you choose to get that effort out of players is down to different managers. Jose’s way was, "Give Stevie [Clarke] a jersey, give [Baltemar] Brito a jersey and for five minutes we will show you the passion needed to win a game like this. And after five minutes bring oxygen, call an ambulance and take me to hospital".
‘It was key and they came out in the second half and played very well.’
Gudjohnsen’s recollection of the half-time interval was rather more succinct: ‘We were not good enough in the first half. The manager made that very clear to us and we responded.’
Didn’t they just. Having finally asked a few questions of the Trotters’ rearguard, the Blues didn’t have to wait long for that elusive breakthrough. A long punt up field by Petr Cech was headed on by Gudjohnsen but with Fernandro Hierro poised to clear, Jiri Jarosik used all of his 6ft 5in frame to put him off; Didier Drogba, in turn, flicked the ball on to Lampard, who shrugged off a blatant tug by Vincent Candela and slipped inside Tal Ben-Haim before sending Jussi Jaaskelainen the wrong way with a composed finish at the near post.
The celebrations that followed betrayed the true emotions of the players – calmness went out the window amidst a mass pile-on, with the goalscorer located somewhere near the bottom.
The job was far from complete, though. Cech was twice called upon to show just why his burgeoning reputation was fully justified, displaying breathtaking reflexes and agility to keep Bolton at bay.
The home side’s pressure was becoming incessant, but their biggest strength was soon to become an even greater weakness. Big Sam’s men were awarded a corner-kick and in a penalty box filled with giants, there was no place for Claude Makelele. So, when Cech punched the set-piece clear and Gudjohnsen brought the ball away, his only option was a pass up the line to Maka. The Frenchman took two touches to control the ball, the second of which brought him in-field and opened up a lane to send a 30-yard pass into the path of the onrushing Lampard just past the centre-circle.
Chelsea’s no.8 was in the clear! ‘Frank Lampard to win it,’ screamed the commentator as he used the run of centre-half Ricardo Carvalho as a decoy and knocked the ball around Jaaskelainen, ‘HE’S GOT IT!’
With the net still rippling, Lampard ran around the back of the goal to be joined by his team-mates in the same spot as he celebrated his first goal. The noises emanating from the players, the whooping and screaming, were borne of sheer joy and elation, of relief and satisfaction at the conclusion of a job well done.
What’s more, they told everyone watching exactly what they needed to know: Chelsea are Premier League champions for the first time. How good does that feel?
‘Our group is a special group, they deserve this – nobody can say we don't deserve this,’ insisted Mourinho after the final whistle had sounded. ‘We were absolutely magnificent, the players and the fans.’
Now the celebrations could begin in earnest...
Tonight's #CFCWatchParty might be over but you can still view the full 90 minutes of the match on this website.