Club historian Rick Glanvill casts his mind back to a promotion party at Molineux when both sets of supporters had cause for celebration...
For those fans who followed Chelsea home and away – and there was a multitude – the 1976/77 season was an unforgettable one. This was the second season below stairs in Division Two and the colossal debts that could potentially bankrupt the club disallowed any transfers. In fact inspirational manager Eddie McCreadie, a novice in the dugout, even convinced his players to accept a pay cut.
But supporters bonded strongly with a remarkably young side playing the Scot’s fast-passing, never-say-die football who claimed top spot in September and stayed there until a few Easter stumbles. Then in mid-April a last-minute winner from Steve Finnieston repelled Nottingham Forest’s challenge (their frustrated boss Brian Clough dubbing Stamford Bridge ‘a pig-hole’), soon followed by a 4-0 home victory over Sheffield United. The Blues then required one point from the two remaining matches, the first of which was away to our rivals for top spot, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Crowd trouble at earlier games such as Luton and Charlton meant Chelsea supporters were supposed to be banned from attending away fixtures, but hundreds of fans traveled up to Molineux, polished up their Black Country accents, and bought tickets for thousands more. Bowing to the inevitable, British Rail actually laid on a ‘football special’ from the capital.
The extent of the southern element in the crowd was soon evident when Tommy Langley finished a fluent five-man, and the throng continued even after John Richards’ late equaliser. At the final whistle a promotion party covered the pitch as the draw suited both clubs: Wolves were confirmed champions and the Blues were back in the big league.
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