Ahead of the latest instalment in the story of this long-running local rivalry, club historian Rick Glanvill recalls a deluge of derby goals…
Next month it will be 53 years since an epic see-saw draw with West Ham that exceeded even this season’s Ajax encounter at Stamford Bridge.
Going into this west/east London derby, on Saturday 17 December 1966 at the Bridge, Tommy Docherty’s side were second while West Ham, managed by war-time graduate from Chelsea’s nascent youth scheme Ron Greenwood, were very much mid-table. The Hammers had scored 26 goals in 11 games on the road but conceded 27. Chelsea’s indifferent home form had brought only one win in six matches at the Bridge. Both trends were about to continue.Almost 48,000 spectators – the biggest attendance of the weekend – were richly rewarded for braving the elements. ‘Bring out the champagne, the flags, the Soccer Oscars,’ cooed reporter Maurice Smith in the Sunday People. ‘This match had everything: skills, thrills, spills. Goals enough to give me writer’s cramp – five of them in ten minutes.’
In fact, the Blues found ourselves two down after half an hour, before an extraordinary flurry either side of the break left people making a mental note to add an abacus to their Christmas list. The first three of those were netted by men in royal blue: Tommy Baldwin finished off a free-kick, Tony Hateley beat Jim Standen from distance, and Charlie Cooke, otherwise ‘watched more closely than a Dartmoor convict’, produced an unstoppable volley.
The 3-2 turnaround lasted all of two minutes before two speculative long-range efforts in five minutes from John Sissons somehow found a way past the usually dependable Peter Bonetti. Incredibly, another two minutes later 3-4 became 3-5, despite The Cat saving John Byrne’s penalty, as the West Ham man recovered and found the net.
Suddenly, for 18 minutes at least, it seemed an Armistice had been signed, though Ron Harris marked his 150th league appearance by having his name taken for a brutal foul on England’s World Cup hero Geoff Hurst.
At last, when all seemed lost, Bobby Tambling (pictured top) initiated the final comeback, roared on by the crowd. The outside-left’s first strike – an 80th-minute spot-kick after Hateley was felled – equalled the great Roy Bentley’s tally of 128 league goals. His second, smartly set-up by Cooke in the last minute, surpassed it. Tambling had already overtaken the Blues title-winning skipper’s all-time club record in all competitions with a penalty at home to another London side, Tottenham, seven weeks earlier. Fittingly, this latest notch was the final kick of the game.
Hateley also provided a footnote. This was only the fifth 5-5 draw in 9,000 Division One matches since the war, and he had scored in two of them.
The People reckoned ‘No one who saw the match will ever forget it.’ Presumably that includes those poor souls who habitually leave 10 minutes early to ‘beat the rush’.
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