Chelsea in the Year of the Dog
Inside Blue Sun 18 Feb 2018
The Year of the Dog has proven auspicious for Chelsea Football Club in the past with the Blues enjoying success in the FA Cup and Premier League during previous zodiac cycles.
As we celebrate the Lunar New Year and the coming of spring, we reflect on the successes and disappointments which we have experienced as Chelsea supporters on the last five occasions that we have welcomed the Year of the Dog.
Chelsea were in the process of rebuilding in the 1957/58 season with only a handful of players from our first league championship success three years earlier still playing regularly for the club. But while the first team struggled for consistency and finished 11th in the First Division, our youth team, which included Jimmy Greaves, Barry Bridges and Ken Shellito, showed their potential by reaching the FA Youth Cup final for the first time in club history, going down 7-6 on aggregate to Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Blues also participated in a European competition for the first time, defeating Danish side BK Frem 7-2 on aggregate in the opening round of the Fairs Cup in late 1958.
Greaves gets five: Jimmy Greaves became the first player to score five goals for Chelsea in a top-flight match in a 6-2 thumping of Wolves in August 1958. Incredibly, he would repeat that feat for the Blues in First Division games against Preston North End in 1959 and West Bromwich Albion in 1960.
FA Cup success finally arrived at Stamford Bridge in 1970 as Chelsea overcame Leeds United in an epic final. Ian Hutchinson’s late equaliser on a terrible Wembley pitch earned Dave Sexton’s side a 2-2 draw in the first meeting, which forced the FA Cup final to a replay for the first time since 1912. Mick Jones put Leeds ahead in the second meeting at Old Trafford but Peter Osgood’s diving header levelled the score 12 minutes from time before David Webb rose above the Leeds defence to nod in the winner in extra-time.
Hudson’s ghost goal: One of Chelsea’s strangest goals came against Ipswich Town in September 1970. Alan Hudson’s shot from the edge of the box went wide but after seeing the ball hit the stanchion at the back of the net, the referee awarded a goal to the bemusement of everyone else at Stamford Bridge.
After being relegated from the top flight in 1979 and missing out on promotion on goal difference a year later, Chelsea’s inconsistent form saw us finish 12th in the Second Division for the second season in a row in 1981/82. However, despite our disappointing league position, John Neal’s side produced one of the season’s most stunning results when we overcame reigning European champions Liverpool 2-0 in the fifth round of the FA Cup thanks to goals by Peter Rhoades-Brown and Colin Lee.
Under new ownership: A new era began when Ken Bates bought Chelsea for a nominal £1 on 2 April 1982. The outspoken businessman oversaw the rebuilding of Stamford Bridge and watched the Blues enjoy success in the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup before selling the club to Roman Abramovich in 2003.
In Glenn Hoddle’s first season as player-manager, Chelsea struggled for consistency and finished 14th, our lowest-ever position in the Premier League era. However, the 1993/94 season is better remembered for our run in the FA Cup as we made it all the way to the final for the first time in 24 years. The Blues beat champions Manchester United twice in the Premier League that season but unfortunately, we couldn’t repeat the magic on a wet day at Wembley as Gavin Peacock hit the crossbar in the first half before the Red Devils pulled away after the interval.
Back in Europe: With United winning the Double, Chelsea secured a return to European action for the first time in 23 years as we earned a spot in the Cup Winners’ Cup. The Blues beat Czech side Viktoria Zizkov in the opening round before edging Austria Vienna on away goals in the second round.
After winning the league title for the first time in half a century in 2005, Chelsea had to wait only 12 more months to lift the Premier League trophy again. The Blues began the season with nine consecutive league wins and gradually pulled away from the chasing pack as the season developed. Our second consecutive title was sealed with two games to spare on a glorious April afternoon at Stamford Bridge, as goals by William Gallas, Joe Cole and Ricardo Carvalho completed a memorable 3-0 trouncing of our nearest challengers Manchester United.
Terry the Goalie: Our first-ever Premier League visit to Reading in October 2006 was a highly-eventful affair with each side having a player sent off and both Chelsea goalkeepers forced off by injuries. With Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini unable to continue, skipper John Terry took over the goalkeeping gloves for the final few minutes and preserved our clean sheet as the Blues won 1-0.