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During the late Sixties, Leeds United developed bitter rivalries
with a number of the major teams of the day: Liverpool, Everton
and Manchester United were involved in some hard fought battles,
but it was the confrontations with the so-called Southern softies
that really brought out the worst in the Yorkshiremen.
Leeds played out a number of spiteful clashes with Arsenal, but
matches against Chelsea were something else, generally guaranteed
to be among the most fiercely contested in the English game. There
was a terrible enmity between the two sides but that was as nothing
next to the ill feeling between followers of the two clubs.
Chelsea supporters harboured a pathological hatred of United,
despising them for the win at all costs attitude that had become
their trademark. Don Revie
had espoused a new attacking philosophy during the autumn of 1969,
but it would take far more than that for Southern crowds to allow
bygones to be bygones.
Rick Glanvill in Chelsea FC - The Official Biography: "It always
rears its ugly head, even when we're nowhere near them. As predictably
as the late plod of Corporal Jones' foot, when Leeds fans gather
in any stand, they will sing their song about their Cockney rivals.
'Fetch your father's gun and shoot the Chelsea scum'. Chelsea
fans still sometimes reciprocate with an elegy to the hatred of
Leeds over the tune of 'The Dambusters March'. We know that the
1970 FA Cup final was dirtier than Paris Hilton's home video collection,
but the unmitigated mutual hatred between Leeds and Chelsea started
"Perhaps we should blame the M1. The extension from Aston to
Leeds was completed in July 1967 and it was almost as if the new
infrastructure made loathing, as well as other goods, easier to
transport. Three months before that was the match that may have
ignited the whole thing. But by then there had already been several
bouts in the classic Yorkshire grit versus flash Cockney encounter.
"There was a fifth round Cup epic in 1952, settled at Villa Park
with a Monday afternoon kick off at 2.30 pm. Boisterous youth
product Bobby Smith was 'a lively spearhead' and gave celebrated
Welsh centre-half John Charles
a nightmare game. Charles twice slipped up for Smith, wearing
borrowed boots, to capitalise. It ended 5-1 but the ferocious
tackling of the first replay at Stamford Bridge had forced Chelsea
into seven changes for the subsequent League game. Nearly 150,000
fans watched the three games - and winced.
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"Early in World Cup year, 1966, the fourth round draw brought
the two foes together again. The Times enthused, 'Chelsea and
Leeds are two of the most fancied teams for Wembley. Heaven help
those who live in the Fulham area who own a motorcar; heaven help
those who wish for a ticket on 12 February. It should be a taut
match. The winner should reach Wembley, and the winner may well
"The winner definitely wasn't going to be football.
"There were chaotic scenes outside Stamford Bridge before the
game with a 57,000 crowd there to see the previous year's beaten
finalists lose 1 -0 to a Tambling strike. The police dealt with
it harshly. 'One will hope,' said The Times, 'that the expression
cross swords will prove groundless in the sense of bared sheaths.'
"At times Chelsea were left 'spinning like a top' by Leeds' fluid
formation, Madeley acting as a deep-lying centre-forward to cover
Osgood - who 'drifts about as silently and elusively as a smoke
ring'. Boyle and Bremner were
booked. Bonetti made three or four world class saves. The template
"The following year, the humour of the FA Cup draw became vindictive.
Leeds and Chelsea met in the 1967 semi
final at Villa Park with 62,378 in attendance. With major
semi final wins proving elusive, the game was billed as manager
Docherty's 'triumph of mind over matter, of willpower over the
perpetual inertia that once reigned at Stamford Bridge'. On the
day he sacrificed brilliance for a backbone and changed the forward
line, exploiting the absence of broken toe victim Jackie
Charlton. Now came the compellingly disappointing Hateley's
greatest triumph: his headed winner from Cooke's run and cross.
"There were other little skirmishes. McCreadie snapped at Giles'
heels. 'The tackling throughout was frighteningly ruthless,' thought
one reporter, 'and too often retaliation was penalised while provocation
escaped unseen. Shirts, elbows and studs were used and abused;
to be caught in possession was like standing in the path of a
"Then came a controversy … As Chelsea tired, Leeds laid siege
to Bonetti's goal and twice put the ball over the line in melees.
The first was undoubtedly offside, but it came as a great relief
to Chelsea when the second, a thunderbolt from the hammer boot
of Lorimer, did not stand. The referee ordered a retake, because
he had been directing Chelsea's wall back the full ten yards when
it was taken, to the fury of Leeds' players. The Blues then held
out and, at the end, Docherty danced a provocative jig of joy."
The ill feeling was stoked up again during United's 2-0 win in
the League at Elland Road in September 1969, as reported by Phil
Brown for the Yorkshire Evening Post: "I do not want to see another
game like Saturday's. These are two good sides at their best ...
but the calibre of such teams is largely wasted when they set
their teeth and play as venomously as that. Late and early tackles,
too vehement charging, abounded. I could admire the physical effort
and stamina of both, and the pluck, and I will defend a heavy
fair charge to the death. It is as much part of football as anything
else, like Charlton standing on opponents' goal lines. But United
and Chelsea both overshot in zeal, and the football of which both
are capable came only briefly into sight."
Charlton and Clarke for Leeds, and Webb, Harris, Houseman and
Birchenall of Chelsea all sustained injuries in the game and were
out for several games.
While Chelsea generally had the Indian sign over United in the
Cups (Leeds have never beaten the Stamford Bridge side in a knock
out competition), it was the Whites who had dominated recent League
encounters, winning five and drawing three of the previous eight.
That run included a 7-0 slaughter at Elland Road in October 1967.
The First Division clash at Stamford Bridge in January 1970 took
place with Leeds second and Chelsea third in the table, both chasing
pace setters Everton.
United went into the game in fine form. They had lost only once
since their League Cup exit against Chelsea in October, and had
won seven of their previous eight games; their starting eleven
was unchanged for the fifth successive fixture. The Whites' defence
had lost the impregnability of their championship season, but
they had nevertheless conceded just 26 goals in 36 games since
the start of the campaign.
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Chelsea were also in a good spell, scoring 14 goals in winning
the previous four matches and home advantage was fancied to give
them the upper hand. Their only real concern was the absence of
goalkeeper Peter Bonetti with a sore throat - Bonetti had given
a series of match winning displays against Leeds over recent seasons
and would be a hard act to follow for Scotland Under-23 keeper
Tommy Hughes. There had been speculation that Chelsea would have
to call up the teenager Davey, but in the end Hughes was adjudged
fit enough to start; he must have regretted that decision.
The Blues were also able to field two exciting young forwards:
Ian Hutchinson and Alan Hudson.
21-year-old Hutchinson was a physical centre-forward who had
been signed from Cambridge United in July 1968 for £5,000. He
had earned a brief run in the side in 1968/69 and in the current
season was on his way to 22 goals from 35 starts. He was to die
an untimely death aged just 54 in 2002, when the Independent paid
him this tribute: "Brave almost beyond belief and ferociously
aggressive, he paid a daunting penalty for his courage, being
invalided out of the game following a grisly catalogue of injuries
when he should have been in his prime. When the rangy six-footer
was rampaging through top quality defences like a human battering
ram, he had seemed indestructible. But, of course, he wasn't.
"Though he was never fêted as an outright star in the manner
of fellow Blues Peter Osgood, Charlie Cooke and Alan Hudson, Hutchinson
was hailed as a talisman by those illustrious comrades. Such was
his willingness to scrap for every ball, he offered the ultimate
get out for team mates under pressure. Hudson, for example, described
Hutchinson as a midfielder's dream, a selfless performer who could
turn bad passes into good ones, though arguably
it was Osgood who benefited most from his close friend's abrasive
style. Hutchinson was the first of Osgood's co-strikers to take
on the role of target man, thus creating space and time for his
infinitely more artistic partner to prosper.
"Yet for all his oxlike strength and his evident relish in crashing
through tackles which would floor most men, it would be unjust
to dismiss Hutchinson as a mere clodhopper. Though he could look
ungainly, even clumsy, there were moments when he would reveal
a delightfully delicate touch on the ball. In addition he offered
formidable pace, he was majestic in the air - like all outstanding
headers, such was the precision of his timing that he created
the optical illusion of seeming to hang in space while waiting
for a pass to arrive - and he packed a savage shot in either foot.
Then there was the Hutchinson speciality, a prodigiously long
throw, which was once measured at some 112 feet and which, due
to its power and remarkable variety of trajectory, was as valuable
an attacking weapon as any corner kick."
Even more well regarded was 18-year-old midfield playmaker Alan
Hudson. CFC.net: "Alan Hudson is a true football icon. Revered
by old school Blues supporters and the schoolboy generation to
which I belonged at the time he graced the hallowed Stamford Bridge
turf, the very mention of his name conjures up memories of the
kings of the Kings Road era Chelsea side that brought panache,
verve and flair to the English game during the glamorous years
that followed the national side's World Cup triumph of 1966."
The January 1970 clash at Stamford Bridge saw United facing the
usual hostile environment. Terry Brindle wrote in the Yorkshire
Post of the day's passionate atmosphere, "Leeds United, who still
smart under a lingering reputation which denies their skill and
emphasises their toughness south of the Wash, were as keen to
win friends as they were to influence their championship claims
at Chelsea. ... Chelsea's supporters ... booed when Leeds went
into the field, jeered when Clarke and Jones went down injured,
hissed Hunter and Charlton long and loud when inflammatory fouls
had ceased to have any bearing on the match. Leeds were as tough
and uncompromising as only they can be, but dirty? Not by any
yardstick acceptable in the North. Chelsea were no saints. Clarke
hobbled off with a gashed shin ... and is out of the reckoning
for England's match on Wednesday. Giles had a bruised calf, treatment
of which could, like Clarke's injury, be 'a long job' according
to the Leeds trainer, Mr Les Cocker."
Rain fell incessantly in the hours leading up to kick off, leaving
the playing surface heavy with rain. It had stopped about half
an hour before the start, but there were standing pools of water
in parts of the pitch and the conditions meant that mistakes were
inevitable, making for some exhilarating football.
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Billy Bremner won the toss and his team were immediately onto
the offensive. Chelsea fought back, however, and went close. A
long throw in from Ian Hutchinson offered a chance and Gary Sprake
was forced into a save. Another Hutchinson throw brought Peter
Houseman the opportunity to shoot through a ruck of defenders,
but it was United who took a 15th-minute lead.
Bremner played a smart through ball for Mick Jones to chase.
The burly centre-forward got to it and put in a shot which was
blocked by Hughes, flying out wide of the right hand post. It
was only a temporary reprieve - the master goal poacher, Allan
Clarke, was lurking on the right spot to hook the loose ball home
with an assured finish. He
finished on the ground behind the net as he saluted the opening
Shortly afterwards Hughes snatched a Lorimer centre off Clarke's
head and set the Blues away. Chelsea could have equalised when
Reaney miscued a clearance across his own area, but David Webb
drove the opportunity well wide with a real defender's effort.
The opening goal had raised the temperature and there was an
unpleasant clash between Hutchinson and Norman Hunter with the
Leeds man receiving a stern lecture from referee Bill Gow.
Again the home men fluffed an opening when Charlie Cooke fired
wide from a lay back by Peter Osgood, but it was United who almost
snatched the second goal around the 35 minute mark. Clarke hammered
home a shot from the penalty spot, but the referee had already
stopped the game for a foul by Jones on Hughes. Leeds paid a high
price for, as he was in the act of shooting, Clarke fell victim
to a desperate late tackle and had to limp off.
Before Mick Bates could come off the subs' bench to replace Clarke,
the sides were on level terms. John Hollins burst from midfield
and stormed through the heart of the United defence with the ball;
from 15 yards, he fired in off the crossbar, raising a tumultuous
cheer all round Stamford Bridge.
Four minutes before the interval Chelsea took the lead. Hutchinson
had the opportunity for another of his whirlwind long throws and
it allowed Osgood to swivel into an unstoppable volley from an
It was a real shock to the United system and for a while they
were in some disarray. Hunter received another reprimand as the
game threatened to boil over. If not for "the fine positioning
of Sprake and the snaking legs of Charlton" (Brindle) the visitors
might have been even further behind when Don Revie gave his half
time team talk. The
manager used the opportunity to shake things up, relying on the
tactical switch that he had used so often in the past when United
were up against it: he threw captain Bremner up front and sent
his men out into all out attack.
The move reaped an almost immediate harvest, but not before Sprake
had to make a point blank stop from Hutchinson to turn the ball
round the post. That was merely the prelude to a United revival
and seconds later, Bremner set them away, feeding Cooper on the
edge of the area. The left-back volleyed home a fine equaliser,
though Hughes should have done better with his attempted save.
The tide had turned in stunning fashion, and United soon restored
their lead. After 57 minutes, with Leeds exerting heavy pressure,
Blues centre-back John Dempsey was panicked into handling the
ball in his area and referee Gow awarded Leeds a penalty. Johnny
Giles gave Hughes no chance with a cool spot kick.
There was no holding the Yorkshiremen now and within a couple
of minutes the advantage was 4-2. Lorimer thundered into a low
shot which beat the dive of Hughes. It entered the net with the
onrushing Bremner not even needing to apply the finishing touch.
Three more minutes and United had a fifth, with Jones scoring
from close range after a Bremner header. Hughes again looked at
fault, standing aghast afterwards as Jones gleefully recovered
the ball from the back of the net.
The Londoners' cause was not helped by defender Webb's insistence
on making his way ambitiously into the Leeds half at every opportunity.
His absence gave the razor sharp United forwards acres of space
and they ruthlessly exploited every opportunity that came their
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Leeds' storming start to the second half left the home men shell
shocked. Chelsea had no answer for the urgent thrusts of the visitors.
It was the perfect example of what Don Revie had aspired to when
he promised to let his men off the leash at the start of the season.
The performance had the football writers drooling with admiration.
The BBC's cameras were on hand to catch the game for Saturday
night's Match of the Day audience and recorded Leeds United at
their clinical best. In one spell of 17 minutes, the Whites earned
more plaudits from the neutrals than they had done in the preceding
five years. They were unstoppable, effortlessly dissecting Chelsea.
Goalkeeper Hughes was roundly panned for a series of errors, but
he was given scant protection and it would have mattered little
who was in the Chelsea goal that day - few would have been able
to deny United their day of glory.
The former Clydebank keeper only made 11 League appearances in
his six years at Stamford Bridge and the disaster against United
effectively ended his Chelsea career - he signed for Aston Villa
in May 1971, later spending time at Brighton and Hereford.
United had enjoyed higher scores earlier in the season, 10-0
and 6-0 against Lyn Oslo in the European Cup, 6-1 against
Nottingham Forest, but those victories were achieved against weak
opponents - the win at Stamford Bridge was something else, achieved
against championship rivals who boasted some of the finest players
in the country, a team that had been outplaying United. Yet in
analysis they could do nothing to deny Don Revie's men on a day
when everything clicked into place.
Brindle: "The crest of noise on which Chelsea had ridden died
away as suddenly as the team's challenge. Leeds went about their
plunder of two points in an atmosphere reminiscent of soccer's
version of rififi - each man uncannily aware of his own role and
the role of his colleagues. Giles guided passes through the flimsy
Chelsea defence from 30, 40, 50 yards - you could almost hear
his brain tacking out new ploys to frustrate the opposition -
Bremner became almost arrogant in his ability to create space
up front. That pair did as much with the side of their feet and
a flick of the hips as many of Chelsea's players did with much
hustle and bustle all afternoon."
Geoffrey Green in the Times: "lf anyone was inclined to question
that Leeds United are the most efficient and consistent side in
the League, their doubts must have been dispelled and their eyes
opened at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Chelsea, unbeaten at home
all season and challenging for the title, were given a sharp rap
over the knuckles and a lecture into the bargain. Leeds as a side
are as hard as teak, and tongued and grooved through and through.
It is difficult to drive a nail into them.
"Completely professional in all they do, they now revealed what
they have picked up in hard European competition over recent seasons
- the ability to play possession football when necessary, or to
use the full length and breadth of the pitch, and especially a
heavy, muddy one as was Stamford Bridge on this occasion. In addition,
they continue to have the gift of snatching goals out of thin
air almost from nothing, like a conjurer, and the knack of punishing
the tiniest mistake to the full.
"In 17 remarkable minutes after the restart they turned the game
upside down and tore the Chelsea defence to shreds ... Leeds rubbed
it in ruthlessly and shut Cooke and Osgood out of the game while
those two mighty atoms, Giles and Bremner pulled all the strings
for a brilliant victory."
Andrew Mourant: "On 10 January a television audience of millions
saw one of the most prodigious performances that Leeds United
had ever given. The opponents were Chelsea and Leeds' show was
played out before a largely hostile audience of 57,221, at Stamford
Bridge. The Londoners were a good side, in form and in third place;
and sufficiently inspired by the occasion to take a 2-1 lead by
half time. No-one could have envisaged what was in store for them
in the 45 minutes that followed. Leeds marshalled their forces
and dictated the game in a manner that had many, including television
commentators, groping for words, as they played with a power,
assurance and authority that the English game had rarely seen.
The 2-1 deficit had turned into a 5-2 victory by full time. Chelsea
had not disintegrated; they had simply run into a force which,
that afternoon, neither they nor probably any other team could
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