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The Soul Of Chelsea In 50 Moments


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Fantastic article from The Times

50 The goal that never was Classic low strike from the furiously talented Alan Hudson, at home to Ipswich in September 1970, with the ball narrowly flying past the post, hitting the stanchion and rebounding onto the pitch. The ref, assuming the ball has struck the stanchion inside the goal, whistles and heads back upfield. Ipswich players protest, Hudson and others try to celebrate convincingly, goal stands. Cue cries for goal line technology, referees with eyes, etc. 49 Culture Club attack the Shed End 1984, a home league game against Watford, and Boy George’s chart-topping pop combo attempt to shoot a scene for the video accompanying their single ‘The Medal Song’ on the pitch at Stamford Bridge. The storyboard indicates that Mikey the alluringly coiffed Culture Club bass player, in full Chelsea strip, must bear down on the Shed End goal and shoot past a compliant youth team goalkeeper. Alas, in a terrible and eerie pre-figuring of Diana Ross’s penalty-taking problem at the 1994 World Cup opening ceremony in the US, Mikey misses. And continues to miss through many subsequent retakes. The Shed hails his efforts with a vigorous show of hand signals. Check the video on YouTube: the ball never hits the back of the net and the crowd are barely in shot for a split second. ‘The Medal Song’ was the first Culture Club single not to be a hit. Chelsea lost to Watford. 48 Celebrity fansOurs tend to be genuine and stick around. OK, Raquel Welch only came once. But Lance Percival, Rodney Bewes, Michael Crawford – these people were always there, work permitting. Same goes for the later generations. Damon Albarn? Bleeds Chelsea. They once shot an episode of ‘Minder’ in the Shed, you know. Well, not the whole episode, obviously. But parts of it. 47 Willie ‘Fatty’ Foulke An extra large goalkeeper and captain of the inaugural Chelsea side of 1905, 'Fatty Foulkes' checked in at 22 stone and 6 feet 3 and minded the net by the highly efficient means of virtually filling it – a smart idea, rarely copied in later years, except, obviously, in the case of Neville Southall. On an away trip to Burton, Fatty is alleged to have consumed the entire team’s breakfast before anyone else arrived. These days, when people set greater store by politeness, he would probably have to be known as Willie ‘Morbidly Obese’ Foulke. People in recent years have accused Chelsea of being over-reliant on imported players. They forget (or perhaps never knew) that almost the first thing the club did, upon its foundation, and to convince the Football League that their application was serious, was to sign Foulke from Sheffield United, as well as Bob McRoberts, a Scottish centre forward, from Small Heath. Bringing in foreigners is a long-standing Chelsea tradition, and we’re rightly proud of it. 46 Chelsea Village What if a football ground wasn’t just a football ground? What if it was a purpose-built, 24/7, lifestyle campus, with ritzy apartments, four-star hotel facilities, buzzing restaurants and fizzy nightspots? What if it was Chelsea Village? Well, that was Ken Bates’s plan, anway – the conversion of Stamford Bridge into a cosmopolitan, all-hours entertainment centre. Unfortunately London already had one of these. It was called ‘London’. Hence the sight of tumble-weed blowing through empty consumer facilities as the club expensively discovered that people had a limited enthusiasm for travelling to a football ground to eat fish and chips if they couldn’t watch a football match afterwards. In any case – ‘village’? Where was the green, the pub, the old well, the war memorial, the taste of warm beer, the distant clop of leather on willow… 45 Cars behind the goal So vast was the gap between the Shed End at Stamford Bridge and the pitch that it allowed room for the cars of disabled or otherwise prioritised supporters to drive in and line up behind the goal line. Therefore matches would routinely see a small forecourt-style display of motors and the ground would periodically ring to the evocative ‘doink’ of ball on near-side front-end car panel. Irregular, perhaps, but, at a time when the United States seemed much more remote than it does now, it loaned the Bridge some of the glamour of an American drive-in movie theatre. 44 Buying Winston Bogarde The downside of the turn of the century ‘see ‘em, sign ‘em’ frenzy. Bogarde was the surly Dutch stopper identified by Chelsea as the weak link in a storming Champions League home victory over Barcelona in April 2000 and then mysteriously signed by us the summer afterwards. People say Bogarde brought little to the table, but he was a tireless presence on the club’s wage bill for four seasons, earning a rumoured £40,000 per week but making just four first team starts and eight further appearances as a substitute. All of which, incidentally, came in his first year. So, for three seasons, he did absolutely sweet Football Association. Apart from train, obviously, and go to the bank. I offer you the following inspirational quotation, suitable for a plaque or poster above the desk in anybody’s office. ‘I give my all every single day and I know that I cannot do any more than that.’ Winston Bogarde, 2002. 43 A brave new ground Looking back, the middle of the worst recession since the second world war wasn’t perhaps the ideal time, economically speaking, for the Mears family to attempt a radical re-building programme which would see Stamford Bridge reformed as a glorious, leading-edge 60,000-capacity temple of football. Sure enough, only the East Stand got built – one brick at a time, between power cuts - the club almost died of poverty in the process and the long and bitter ‘battle for the Bridge’ was commenced. Tricky stuff, economics. 42 Beating Tottenham Chelsea’s unbeaten league run against Tottenham didn’t really last for ever. It only seemed as though it did. In fact it went on for 16 years – 20, if you only count the games played at White Hart Lane, where, in November 2006, Graham Poll finally brought the streak to an end in the way that only he knew how - by sending off someone who didn’t deserve to go (John Terry) and by disallowing a perfectly good goal (Didier Drogba). Highlights of the run? Well, the 1-6 pasting at Tottenham in 1997 had a certain poetry about it. But so, in its own quite different way, did the wintry night at Stamford Bridge in 2000 when George Weah, who had arrived on an aeroplane that afternoon, came off the bench and rose to a height of approximately 14 feet in the Tottenham penalty area to head in an extremely late winner. We liked to imagine that, as he left the pitch that night, the former World Footballer of the Year put his arm around Jody Morris and said, ‘That’s the ten year record safe, Jody.’ He probably didn’t, though. 41 Disliking Liverpool Leeds will always be there or thereabouts. Spurs, too. And Manchester United, naturally. But recent seasons have seen Liverpool pull out of the pack and top the pile as the club we really don’t like. Liverpool fans’ incorrigible tendency to sentimentalise themselves in completely fantastical ways has, of course, always grated, but recently the irritation which comes by default with teams from Anfield has intensified. Reasons? Well, clearly the indignity of losing by a non-goal to the worst side ever to win the Champions League left a wound which going out of the same competition on penalties to them two years later didn’t exactly heal. Another reason: Rafa Benitez. I mean, what a plonker. 40 Ten Men Went To Mow And his dog, Spot, of course. Just one of those songs that Chelsea fans sing without really knowing why. See also the frankly pornographic number regarding celery, accompanied, in days gone by, by much hurling aloft of said under-rated salad ingredient, although recently the authorities have effected a celery clampdown, banning the substance from inside the ground. (Those little sticks can sting, you know. Ask Cesc Fabregas.) ‘Ten Men Went To Mow’ involves a mass stand-up on 10, and is therefore one of only two examples of a chant specifically adapted to the all-seater stadium era – ‘Stand up if you hate Man you’, being the other. Little known fact: Bryan Adams, the gravel voiced Canadian rock star, likes to attend matches at Stamford Bridge when he can, and, walking up the Fulham Road on the way to the ground, has been known to ask, with considerable relish, ‘Do you think there’ll be some great mowing today?’ There invariably is. 39 The White Feather Six In October 2001, half a dozen Chelsea players, including Emmanuel Petit and Eidur Gudjohnsen, elected not to travel to Israel for a Uefa Cup game on the grounds that a bomb had recently gone off in an adjacent country. They were ritually denounced as ‘weedy’, among other things, but some of us prefer to dwell on how typically enlightened it was of Chelsea to let them to make their own minds up. Sir Alex Ferguson, one feels sure, would have frog-marched all dissenters, shivering, onto the plane and made them have a cold shower when they got there. But at Chelsea it’s all about respecting the individual, his feelings and his rights. Gudjohnsen, incidentally, holds the distinction of being both a member of the White Feather Six AND one of the Heathrow Four, who unwisely chose the aftermath of 9/11 for an airport-based public bender. Footballers, eh? You can never predict which way they’re going to go. 38 Damon Hill burns rubber At some point before he became a Grand Prix legend, Damon Hill was invited to drive a racing car up and down the gravel track in front of the old West Stand, by way of some slightly superior, cross-promotional half-time entertainment – superior to a cup of Bovril and a Wagon Wheel from the tea bar, anyway. West Stand mission completed, Hill then motored down to the Shed End and pulled out a demonstration of the legendary spin-trick known as ‘doughnutting’. As a result, several hundred Chelsea fans found themselves pebble-dashed where they stood. There followed a show of hand-signals very similar to the one seen when Culture Club were our half-time guests. Hill never drove for Chelsea again. 37 Shocking away strips You think this season’s bright yellow, cycling proficiency outfits are the worst you have seen? You’re forgetting the ‘tangerine and graphite’ assembly in which otherwise ostensibly serious Chelsea sides were obliged to see out the close of the last century. And as John Motson once found himself definitively obliged to announce, back in the 1980s, ‘Chelsea in their slightly unusual away colours – jade.’ 36 The away end Brutally minimalist and entirely unsheltered concrete steppe which, for most of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, was the full extent of the hospitality extended to our visiting friends. It wasn’t all hardship, though, for the people who might already have endured a six or seven hour coach journey - occasionally a disenchanted teenager with a tray would walk round on the dog track and push expensive snacks through the fence at them. Wolves fans once built a bonfire on the terracing to keep warm and the police, who also wanted to keep warm, turned a blind eye – or rather, a cold backside. Of course, health and safety regulations were less stringent in those days, and bonfires, like smoking, are now banned throughout the stadium. 35 Tromso in the snow 23 October 1997 and Chelsea head off up to the Arctic circle for the most bizarre game of football ever to be screened live on national television, played on a carpet of snow in a blizzard. The rules state that if the referee can’t see both his assistants, the game must be called off. There is a very strong case that, at the height of the blizzarding here, the referee could barely see both his own shoulders. Even now the suspicion lingers that the match would have been postponed if the official party from UEFA hadn’t decided that they couldn’t face trudging back out to Norway at a later date and trying again. Dennis Wise, of course, wore a short sleeve shirt, but the next time someone runs the hoary old argument about foreign players not fancying it on a cold night up at Ewood Park, set them down in front of a video of Gianluca Vialli, barrelling through a six-foot snowdrift late in this match and somehow managing to slap-shot the snow-encrusted ball, ice hockey-style, into the icicle-decked net, thus securing the relief of an away goal, when Chelsea had fallen two goals behind in the confusion. In the event, we clobbered Tromso 6-1 on grass in the home leg, to cries of ‘You only sing when it’s snowing.’ But it’s the first leg we remember. 34 The Shed The legendary, partly sheltered bank of terracing at the south end of Stamford Bridge, liable to provoke awe, wonderment and terror in equal measures and all at the same time. Undeniably, for a period in its history, the Shed was a fertile BNP and Combat 18 recruitment ground and a limited-hours drop-in centre for some of south west London’s most regretable boneheads, but let’s not say that was all it was. It housed (and continues to house) some of the firmest and funniest and friendliest and most patient supporters in football. Let’s not forget, either, that even the people in the posh seats knew that a sizeable part of the attraction of going to Stamford Bridge was watching, and hearing, the Shed. In fact, for large periods of the Seventies and Eighties, the Shed was the only thing going on that resembled entertainment. 33 The benches The household fame of the Shed End should never be allowed to eclipse the part in the Chelsea story of the benches, a raw seating area at the foot of the old West Stand, available as an upgrade to standard ticket holders for a small supplementary fee. These days, Virgin Atlantic would call it Premium Economy. Those days, it brought you closer to the pitch and, more importantly, closer to the away fans. Hence the chant from the inconveniently distant Shed End of ‘Benches, benches, do your job.’ 32 When Wise went up to lift the FA Cup – with his kid Ah! Little face! And the baby is cute, too. People think Wise was a gobby troublemaker and all-purpose one-man fire-starter. They are right. But he was also the midfield linchpin and captain of arguably the most technically sophisticated side that Chelsea ever produced, and a warm, cuddly family man to boot. Actually, ‘to boot’ is the wrong expression, but you know what I mean. Carried up the Wembley steps by his father, Henry Wise became the youngest person ever to lift major silverware in the televised era and sparked a small vogue for sharing such moments with the fruit of your loins. The father and son duo returned to mark the opening of the new Wembley at the FA Cup final of 2007, which Chelsea also won, and where it was immediately apparent that Wisey’s son is now nearly as tall as Wisey is. Then again, he was in 1997, too. From ‘Dennis Wise – The Autobiography’: ‘When Ken Bates took over in 1982 the club was going nowhere and had debts of £1 million. That was a lot of money then.’ Only a footballer, of course, would think that £1 million wasn’t a lot of money now. 31 Ken Bates’s beard The resemblance of Chelsea’s argumentative former chairman to Father Christmas was, we must all agree, one of nature’s better jokes. Bates rarely liked to be seen to be giving anything away that he could sell, and particularly not tickets. Allegedly Phil Collins once phoned up for some seats and was told to stuff off and buy his own. But doesn’t that tale, however apocryphal, make you kind of love Bates, deep down? Chelsea fans have other reasons to hold this blunt, controversy-magnet in high regard. He bought and saved the club. He brilliantly out-manoeuvred a business plan that would have seen the ground concreted over and Chelsea homeless. He turned a rubbish stadium into a sparkling enormodome. He then saved the club a second time by selling it to a Russian football fan with bottomless pockets. Nice work. Note, too, that by selling his farmhouse in the country and taking a penthouse apartment in Chelsea Village, Bates became the only football chairman ever to live above the shop. This meant that he couldn’t go in and out of his house without bumping into fans who, being fans, would want to ask him about season ticket prices and question the standard of the confectionery in the tea bars. You would have to love the place and everything it stood for to expose yourself willingly to that on a daily basis. 30 Vinnie Jones booked after three seconds February 15 1992: whistle goes, ball narrowly departs the centre circle and the heart and soul of Wales goes in two-footed on Dane Whitehouse of Sheffield United to earn the earliest booking ever seen at Stamford Bridge. Three seconds - staggering. And, what’s more, it broke by a full two seconds, Jones’s previous early booking record, earned (unsentimentally enough) as a Sheffield United player, by ploughing into someone from Manchester City in January 1991. It’s called ‘letting them know you’re there.’ Many supporters were appalled when Chelsea signed Jones, and for perfectly decent moral reasons. But within ten minutes of his debut for the club, most of those same people were on their feet shouting, ‘Vinnie! Vinnie!’ Nothing about him had changed, of course. It’s just different when they’re family. 29 European Cup? No thanks After winning the league title in 1955, the FA were asked if they would like to enter Chelsea in a new knock-out tournament they were devising, featuring the champions of various European nations – working title, ‘the European Cup’. But the FA said, ‘Nah. What’s the point? There’s no future in it.’ So we didn’t go. Far-sighted, the FA, even then. 28 Players who live near the ground Peter Osgood liked the district of Chelsea so much that he moved back to Windsor as soon as he could afford to. It was standard practice among the players of the Seventies and Eighties to live somewhere leafy with a golf course. The signings of the Nineties changed all that. Albert Ferrer and Dan Petrescu used to walk over to the ground from Chelsea Harbour, five minutes away. Roberto Di Matteo took a flat near the Albert Hall and bought a restaurant near the Chelsea and Westminster hospital. Ruud Gullit lived off the King’s Road. Their English peers began to follow suit. Dennis Wise bought a mews house off the King’s Road. So did Graeme Le Saux. Even now, when the new training ground at Cobham makes comfy Surrey a pragmatic option for many, Frank Lampard prefers to live within a 30-yard volley of the Fulham Road. The sense of a team rooted in its local community was said to have gone out of the game with Brylcreem and the laced-up ball. It took an influx of foreign players to bring it back. But not just any foreign players – special ones who were interested in understanding the club and its culture. How many Liverpool players live within five minutes of Anfield by foot? How many live within 45 minutes by reinforced SUV with tinted windows? 27 Official Peter Bonetti goalkeeping gloves Thin, tight-fitting and indisputably green finger-protectors, as used in combat by ‘the Cat’. About as far removed from today’s padded Mickey Mouse mitts as it is possible for a pair of gloves to be, and offering minimal protection against the sting of either the ball or the weather, but a must-have accessory for the Seventies schoolboy. 26 Buying duff strikers Are you a record-breaking Chelsea signing? Do you play up front? Uh-oh. There was Robert Fleck – big news in 1992 when signed from Norwich for £2.1 million, back when (as Dennis Wise would say) that was a lot of money. He appeared 40 times and managed three goals. Cost per goal: £700,000. Then there was Chris Sutton – record signing in 1999 at £10 million. Made 28 appearances, scored one league goal. Cost per league goal: you do the maths. And then, at £30.8 million, Andriy Shevchenko… but no. We love Sheva. He just needs time to settle. Believe it. 25 Rained on by Manchester United 1994: our first Wembley final in a quarter of a century unless you count the Zenith Data Systems which, thinking about it, for a long period we did. Oh, the hope and the painted faces on this dismal day in May. And oh, the 0-4 scoreline. ‘Are You Watching, Liverpool?’, Jim White’s book-form account of that season from a United fan’s perspective, has it that Chelsea were ‘crushed like a pigeon beneath the wheels of a juggernaut.’ Properly dispassionate historians, however, recall how the pigeon dumped on the juggernaut’s crossbar at 0-0 in the first half, only to be cruelly poisoned by some marginal refereeing calls leading to two penalties after the interval. David Elleray was never warmly welcomed to Stamford Bridge again. The rain fell into my polystyrene cup of tea all the way to Wembley Central – the longest walk of all, in so many senses. 24 Chelsea Pensioners in the standsEsteemed war veterans in bright red coats never miss a home game at the Bridge. ‘But do they jump up when we score?’ some of us are given to wonder. Unfortunately we’ve always been too pre-occupied at the time to watch them and find out. 23 Ian Hutchinson’s throw-ins Following a quick polish on the insides of his sleeves, Hutchinson could sling the ball 112 feet into the opposition penalty area – which would have been impressive enough even without the physical quirk by which his arms would continue to rotate a couple of times after the ball had left his hands. Often imitated in the playground, this was football’s equivalent of the Pete Townsend windmill, although when did the Who man’s guitar antics ever mean that a throw-in was effectively ‘as good as a corner’? 22 Roman Abramovich’s yacht … is bigger than Craven Cottage. Fact! Possibly. And it’s got a submarine. Has Craven Cottage got a submarine? Not the last time I looked. Scene of several key business meetings in the Russian era, including the wooing of Jose Mourinho. Beats a conference room, a flask of Kenco and a plate of Bourbon biscuits in the St Alban’s Ramada Inn any day. Also occasionally available to honeymooning players, some of whom will have to work weeks before they can afford luxury like this. 21 Electric fencing Controversially agricultural approach to fan management proposed by Ken Bates in an era when Chelsea fans spent at least as much time on the pitch of a Saturday afternoon as the players did. The chairman talked a good game, electrocution-wise, but, revealing his not frequently enough commented-on softer side, Bates never switched the fence on, meaning that its chief function was as a magnet for publicity rather than as a frazzling device for scrap-ready Sheddites and freelance exhibitionists. 20 Ruud Gullit dreadlock wigs A BNP recruiting ground? Undeniably, it went on. But also let’s not forget that Chelsea was the home of the first black manager in Premier League history. What’s more, the first manager of any skin colour to be elected by public vote. At the end of the 1995-96 season, with Glenn Hoddle heading off to manage England, a rumour took hold that the board was about to appoint George Graham. During the season’s final home game, repeated and ground-wide singing insisted, ‘You can stick George Graham up your arse’ – a suggestion emphatically followed up by cries of ‘Ruudy, Ruudy’. The people had spoken, and that evening the job was Gullit’s. Cue two happy, sun-dappled seasons of ‘shekshy football’ and widespread imitative wig-wearing. Emblematic moment of the Gullit era? Possibly the way he looked, suited and booted and leading out Chelsea at Wembley for the 1997 FA Cup final. Alternatively, consider the point where Chelsea take a 4-2 lead over Liverpool in that famous Sunday afternoon Cup tie, having trailed 0-2 at half-time. The television cameras cut to Gullit on the bench. Leaping up? Fisting the air? No. Bending down to tie his shoe lace. Eventually the Dutch legend’s interest collapsed properly, to the point where he seemed to be managing by text message. But it was fun while it lasted. Shekshy, even. 19 Buying our way out of trouble In 1910, only five years after foundation, Chelsea found themselves plunging towards relegation. Accordingly, they went out and signed five players at a cost of £3,575. Which, as Dennis Wise will tell you, was a lot of money then. As a direct result of this panic-buying, the FA introduced the March transfer deadline, forerunner of the transfer window. Unfortunately, at least three of those five players that Chelsea bought turned out to be injured, so the cunning plan backfired and Chelsea went down. You see? You can’t buy success, no matter what anybody tells you. Especially if you buy injured players. And Liverpool fans say Chelsea have no history. 18 The first all-foreign IX Boxing Day, 1999. Team to face Southampton, away: De Goey, Ferrer, Thome, Leboeuf, Babayaro, Petrescu, Deschamps, Poyet, Di Matteo, Ambrosetti, Flo. Can you spot who’s missing? That’s right – England. 17 John Terry sees the light You’re saying the fielding of the first all-foreign IX was a bad moment for English football? We’re saying it was a wake-up call. English players at Chelsea abruptly realised that the bar had just risen by about 27 feet and that they would be obliged to go to Leeds United with Michael Duberry if they couldn’t cut it. ‘If I want to play for this club,’ young English players were suddenly saying to themselves, ‘I’d better be good.’ John Terry, in particular, stood at a crossroads. He could either choose to concentrate and work hard with Frank LeBouef and Marcel Desailly as his mentors, and with Claudio Ranieri (also not English) looking on protectively. Or he could continue the way he was going and end up in court again with Jody Morris. Hallelujah, he took the right path, and Chelsea now routinely supply the English national side with half its first-team personnel, more than at any other time in our history, and including its captain. Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joe Cole, Wayne Bridge... What riches. If only England had a manager who had the first clue what to do with them. 16 The Wizard of the Dribble Also known as Charlie Cooke. Dazzling. Like Arjen Robben, only without the incessant diving, the crises of confidence and the perpetual injuries. And with an at times quite extraordinary moustache. 15 Giant-killed, again and again How does this work? In the fairy tales, the giant gets killed once and that’s it. In football, the giant gets painfully killed, but then gets up and is ready to be killed again, in almost identical circumstances, a year later, or even less. In the last quarter of the 20th century, Chelsea made something of a habit of embarrassing themselves to sides of the quality of Scunthorpe and Walsall. It happened 13 times in the 1980s and early 1990s. At some point in the middle of this dire era, Gareth Hall, a stocky right-back, was asked by the club’s magazine to nominate a song for the team to run out to. He suggested Talking Heads’ ‘Road to Nowhere.’ 14 ‘Always look on the bright side of life.’ Chelsea fans sang it first, while going down 7-0 at Nottingham Forest. 13 Kerry Dixon and David Speedie Now, that was what you call a strike partnership. 12 Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen And so was that. 11 Claudio Ranieri breaks the bank in Monte Carlo The semi-finals of the Champions League against Monaco and a series of inexplicable and ultimately catastrophic substitutions reveal why someone who is clearly the nicest man ever to manage a football team will nevertheless have to be replaced. We hated to lose him. But he did have to go. 10 Matthew Harding day Flowers and shirts at the gates, and a floral tribute on the pitch along with a fathom-deep silence in honour of the popular director who funded the North Stand and died in a helicopter crash returning from a night game at Bolton Wanderers. Somehow, in the wake of the solemnity, a game took place and ended in another victory over Tottenham. Form dictates that I now write ‘Harding would have enjoyed that.’ Of course, the truth is, he would have found it utterly predictable. 9 John Neal’s blue and white army The slick, quick-witted, easy-on-the-eye side (Nevin, Spackman, Dixon, Speedie) with which John Neal brought Chelsea out of the second division in 1984 went on to finish sixth for two consecutive years in the top division – dizzying heights by the standards of what had gone before. It was all too brief. Neal succumbed to ill health. John Hollins took over and it all went pear-shaped. 8 Jimmy Greaves leaves The best centre forward Chelsea ever knew left the club in high style, scoring all four goals in a 4-3 win over Nottingham Forest and getting chaired off the pitch before flying away to join Milan and make some money. Those four goals brought his total for the 1960-61 season to 41. He scored 114 goals for the youth team and 32 goals in his first senior year and managed a total of 13 hat-tricks in four seasons. And to think that people now speak longingly of finding ‘a decent, 20-goals-a-season man’. That he would eventually be part of the 1967 Tottenham side that beat Chelsea in the 1967 FA Cup final was, of course, especially unpalatable. We think of him as pure Chelsea. 7 4-2-4 versus Real Madrid 4-3-3 hadn’t worked. We drew with them in the first staging of the 1971 Cup Winners Cup final in Athens. So Dave Sexton switched up to 4-2-4 for the replay. Result! Chelsea’s first European trophy. 6 Roberto Di Matteo after 42 seconds Typical. You wait three years for an FA Cup final to come around. Then Roberto Di Matteo runs through a nervous Middlesbrough midfield and cracks it over the goalkeeper’s head and you spend 89 minutes praying for the match to end. Eddie Newton made it 2-0 much later and, according to official time-keeping records, the celebrations on the pitch afterwards went on for longer than at any other FA Cup final in the history of the tournament. All together now, line up, hold hands, run and…. DIVE! Excellent. Now, let’s do it again. Only across the pitch this time. (Repeat for 35 minutes.) 5 David Webb rising in the mud And putting away the winner in the 1970 FA Cup final with his cheek. And then running back up the knackered Old Trafford pitch and doing a lop-sided jump in celebration. And no wonder. This was not just the victory of Chelsea over Leeds – this was also the victory of flair over cynicism, of artistry over violence, of good over evil. Ask Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris – he’ll tell you the same. Chopper, incidentally, bought and sold a couple of golf courses after he retired from the game, and became a millionaire. Which was a lot of money, back then. 4 Jose Mourinho His instructions were to improve a club that had just finished second. The next season it finished first. Few of us expect our team to have a manager as charismatic, clever, outrageous, well-dressed and sometimes just plain funny, again. A vigorous celebrant of important goals, it was noticeable in general that he narrowed the traditional gap between players and coaching staff to an unprecedented degree. After a Champions League match at Valencia, Michael Essien stood in front of the usual logo’d board, giving a post-match television interview. Suddenly a figure jumped on him from behind, whooping loudly, and then ran off laughing. A typical players’ prank, you were thinking, when the camera flashed up the corridor to reveal that it was Mourinho. It was always going to end in tears and a bust-up with the owner, of course – and lo and behold, it did, on, of all things, the night that Chelsea premiered a full-length feature film celebrating three glorious years under Mourinho. Inevitably there followed public displays of shock and mourning unlike any seen since the death of Princess Diana. Others say: cautious, attritional football, based on solid defending and lacking flair. We say: two championships, two League Cups, one FA Cup and a whole barrel of laughs. Oh, and a Charity Shield. Jose never left out the Shield when making public declarations about his trophy tally, and neither should we. 3 Roy Bentley’s lungs Legend has it that Roy Bentley joined Chelsea from Newcastle because doctors advised him to head somewhere warmer for the sake of his lungs. Good idea. Seven years later, in 1955, he was the centre forward, captain and catalyst-in-chief of the first Chelsea side to win the league championship and people have been coming to Chelsea for their health ever since. 2 Peter Osgood’s sideburns The King of Stamford Bridge, schooled in what is required of a monarch at this level by Tommy Docherty. Goals, more Seventies glamour than you could shake a stick at and, in his pomp, a pair of sideburns the size of adult weasels, but, for many of us, Ossie is perpetually frozen in mid-air, dive-heading the first Chelsea goal in the FA Cup final replay of 1970. Never to be forgotten. 1 Gianfranco Zola’s everything In particular there was the gasp-inducing moment against Norwich in which the original ‘man with happy feet’ and the best player ever to wear a Chelsea shirt (possibly, also, the nicest man ever to do so) runs onto a corner to the front post and scores with a flicked volley off the inside of his right heel. Brilliant in the same way that the moment he gave Julian Dicks of West Ham ‘twisty blood’ was brilliant, or in the way that he walked through the Manchester United defence one cold winter’s afternoon at the Bridge was brilliant or in the way that he came on in Stockholm and won the European Cup Winners’ Cup was brilliant, or in the way that… Actually, you could compile one of these ‘Soul in 50 Moments’ lists using Zola-related incidents alone, which explains why his is still among the first names to be sung when things are going well – as they so often seem to be these days.
Full Page: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/foo...icle2967989.ece
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