Although the two clubs have not met for the past eight years, the rivalry between Leeds United and Chelsea still remains one of football's most long-standing feuds
By Ryan Parrish
Last Updated: 19/12/12 9:41pm
The rivalry between Leeds United and Chelsea really cemented itself in football folklore when the two sides contested the 1970 FA Cup final.
The game at Wembley finished 2-2 when Ian Hutchinson's late equaliser for Chelsea took the match to the first Cup final replay in 58 years. Leeds dominated for the majority of the game, hitting the woodwork three times and twice taking the lead, with winger Eddie Gray torturing Chelsea right-back David Webb all game. But the Whites just could not put the tie to bed.
Author of 'The Essential History of Leeds United', Andrew Mourant, spoke of Leeds' performance, saying: "Told by manager Don Revie to go out and play, they responded with one of the best post-war exhibitions of football Wembley had seen. Eddie Gray unfurled a performance of tormenting skill on the left wing, reducing Chelsea right-back David Webb to impotence. Other Chelsea defenders floundered in spaces where Leeds men had been."
Just over a fortnight later, the two teams met again for the replay at Old Trafford in front of a television audience of 28million, a modern day record for an FA Cup final. Chelsea were 2-1 winners in extra time thanks to a Webb goal.
But the tie is remembered for its constant on-pitch battles and it is widely regarded as one of the dirtiest games ever. In his match report, The Times' football correspondent, Geoffrey Green, described the game as: "one of the most punishing finals in modern history - perhaps all history," and another reported: "Wherever you looked on the field there was mayhem, as players kicked, gouged and butted each other with impunity."
Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Bonetti suffered a knee injury during the game after a collision with Mick Jones and he told Chelsea's official website: "It probably was the most physical game I played in and today it would never have lasted. Referees today say it would not have got past the first 20 minutes, because of the tackles, but that was the game in those days and you had to put up with it."
After Gray's performance at Wembley, it was no surprise Ron 'Chopper' Harris was given the task of man-marking the Scotsman in the replay. Chelsea manager Dave Sexton was praised for his choice to swap the positions of Webb and Harris to deal with Gray, and many believe this decision was a vital factor in the Blues lifting the trophy, including Bonetti, who said: "Dave saw what had happened there and he put Ronnie out in the right-back position to cope with Gray and Webby was far, far happier in the middle where he could win things. He and John Dempsey made a tremendous partnership."
Chelsea's Alan Hudson admitted Harris knew exactly what his job was, saying: "Ron 'Chopper' Harris did not need any telling. His scything tackle on the wing wizard Eddie Gray in the opening minutes was chilling."
Remarkably there was only one booking all game and when former Premier League referee David Elleray reviewed the match over 30 years later, he revealed he would have handed out six red cards and a staggering 20 yellows. Leeds defender Jack Charlton furiously stormed off the pitch without collecting his runners-up medal and he later admitted: "The disappointment was incredible. I went straight to the dressing room and kicked open the door. I've never been more upset over losing a game, maybe because it was partly my fault." He added: "It wasn't the losing of the game; it was the losing of the game to Chelsea."
What happened on the pitch at Old Trafford was a product of several personal vendettas and collective anger that had accumulated over the years after a number of heated previous meetings between the two teams throughout the 1960s.
Revie's Leeds side had gained a reputation for their aggressive approach to life in Division One, and when Chelsea were 2-0 winners in the 1964 tie at Stamford Bridge, Phil Brown from the Yorkshire Evening Post commented: "'Never mind the ball' seemed to be the order of the day, as scything, irresponsible tackles ruffled tempered."
The rivalry intensified in the following season when the two sides met at Villa Park in an FA Cup semi-final. Tempers flared early on when Leeds goalkeeper Gary Sprake's boot connected with John Boyle's face as they challenged for a high ball. It was a typically heated affair, fuelled by Leeds having two goals dubiously disallowed as Chelsea went on to win 1-0 before going on to be beaten 2-1 at Wembley by Tottenham Hotspur.
The games throughout the 1960s, culminating in the 1970 FA Cup final, had laid the foundations for one of football's most bitter rivalries and, in 1971, after a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, Green said the game "more resembled some mafia vendetta than football."
Both teams suffered a decline towards the end of the 1970s and they subsequently both found themselves in the Second Division, where they played each other for the first time in four years in 1982 when they contested a 0-0 draw.
Two years later, they met at Stamford Bridge, with John Neal's Chelsea needing a win to seal their return to the First Division. The game was marred by clashes between supporters but a Kerry Dixon hat-trick helped Chelsea to an emphatic 5-0 win, sealing their return to the top flight for the first time in five years.
Things remained just as intense between the two clubs during the 1990s and both teams enjoyed somewhat of a revival towards the end of the decade. They battled out a heated 0-0 draw in 1997 in which there were eight players booked and Leeds had Gary Kelly and Alf-Inge Haaland sent off. Comparisons between the game and the high-tempered clashes of the 1970s were drawn due to the physical nature of the contest. PA Sport's chief football writer at the time, Martin Lipton, claimed the game was "a throwback to the worst excesses of the Revie era when the likes of 'Chopper' Harris kicked lumps out of Johnny Giles and Co."
Wednesday's Capital One Cup quarter-final will be the first competitive meeting between the two sides since Leeds' relegation from the Premier League in 2004, although hostilities have remained and, with both teams enduring frustrating seasons so far, it could well be a game reminiscent of the clashes during previous eras.