In April 1973 Chelsea welcomed Manchester United to Stamford Bridge. The match was surrounded by the furore around Bobby Charlton making his final appearance for the Reds before retiring. His decorated career included winning the World Cup with England as well as many domestic honours.
The game was more of a spectacle where Charlton would say a fond farewell to the footballing world. A crowd of 44,000 came to the Bridge, which closed its doors twenty minutes before kick-off. Before the match he was given a guard of honour as a mark of respect for his contributions to the game. The Chelsea chairman, Brian Mears, even presented him with a silver cigarette box. Former CFC manager, Tommy Docherty, was in the dug out for the Red Devils.
Despite all the hype pre-game the match itself didn’t amount to much. Chelsea managed to stifle the game but did muster the only moment of note. In the 60th minute Ian Britton received the ball in his own half before dribbling his way towards the United box. He passed the ball out wide on the right to John Hollins who put in a first time cross to Tommy Baldwin. The ‘Sponge’ flicked the ball into the path of Peter Osgood who scored one of the most memorable goals in Chelsea history. Ossie scored his 17th goal of the season but it wasn’t his best. The ball fell awkwardly and the King stumbled his shot past Alex Stepney via his knee. It was an accident and a total fluke. Even Ossie knew how lucky his goal was and got down on to his knees in the Utd goal with arms outstretched with an almost apologetic celebration.
The game ended with Chelsea winning 1-0, not the fairy-tale ending that Bobby, his fans and the media would have wanted. This proves that Chelsea have been ‘ruining’ football since way before the Roman Abramovich era.
Clip courtesy of Chelsea FC Lookback
They all count!