Why Chelsea’s first FA Cup win is perhaps the best of all

With the 2018/19 FA Cup in full swing, stories are being written that will be told and retold for generations to come.

There are heroes to be made, villains to take their place in club folklore and, at the end of it all, the most prestigious domestic competition in the world will have a worthy winner.

The FA Cup has been Chelsea’s friend for many years now, with six wins since the turn of the century. And, this season, under Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea look to once again be establishing themselves as one of the dominant forces in the country.

They’re enjoying Europa League football this season, but they’ll be hunting Champions League qualification at the very least for the next campaign.

 

Chelsea in the 2018 FA Cup Final – By HonorTheKing – Own work, CC BY 4.0,

They will also be hoping to retain the FA Cup after lifting it last campaign. The odds of them winning this season are around 7/1, making them third favourites to appear in the showcase Wembley final in May and keep the trophy for a second successive season.

It would be the ninth such win if they could pull it off, but perhaps the best remembered of them all was their first triumph in the final of 1970.

That game against Leeds United is now considered to be a seminal game in English football history, a game that by today’s standards should have seen six red cards and a further 20 yellows.

Initially, the two sides met in a pulsating final, played earlier than usual to give the England team extra time in Mexico to defend the World Cup. It ended 2-2, producing the need for a replay at Old Trafford.

Referee Eric Jennings was taking charge of the final game of his career and he allowed some serious foul play to go unpunished. Billy Bremner received a kick to the head whilst standing up.

Norman Hunter traded punches with Ian Hutchinson, whilst future Eire boss Jack Charlton headbutted Peter Osgood.

It might have been brutal, but there was a winner on the night, even though it took extra time to separate the sides. Mick Jones gave Leeds the early lead, something they carried into half-time.

After the break, it was Chelsea’s turn to find the ascendency, but waited until twelve minutes from time. Peter Osgood used his head to better effect than Charlton had, nodding in a Charlie Cooke cross.

 

Peter Osgood statue – By Ungry Young Man from Vienna, Austria – 2015-02-21_Chelsea4, CC BY 2.0,

After 180 minutes of brutal football, neither side had stolen the advantage, but deep into extra time, the game was settled. A long throw came off Charlton’s head again and found David Webb unmarked at the back post to sweep home.

Whilst the final may have seemed like a battle, it is also regarded as a fine example of the time, an era where players didn’t feign injury or try to get each other sent off – they simply got stuck in and fought for the results.

The win saw Chelsea enter the Cup Winner’s Cup, beating Real Madrid in a two-legged final to lift their first European Trophy. They also recorded their biggest ever win in the early round, 13-0 against Jeunesse Hautcharage.

As third-favourites for the trophy this season, the Blues will be hoping to kick-start a modern-day legacy of their own after a season on the fringes of success under Antonio Conte.