Monday, October 8, 2012

The Cup Winners' Cup

The Cup Winners' Cup triumph proved to be the last of Chelsea's successes in the decade, as a series of problems combined to almost bring the club to its knees. From the early 1970s, the discipline of the team began to degenerate, as Sexton fell out with several key players, most notably Osgood, Hudson and Baldwin over their attitude and lifestyle. Sony VAIO VGN-CS51B/W Battery

As the spirit of the team declined, so too did results. Chelsea set two records in defence of the Cup Winners' Cup in 1971–72: a 21–0 aggregate win over Luxembourg side Jeunesse Hautcharage, which remains a record scoreline in European competition.[30] The result included a 13–0 home win over Jeunesse, the biggest winning scoreline in Chelsea's history. Sony VAIO VGN-CS52JB/W Battery

However, the team were knocked out of the competition by little-known Åtvidabergs FF under the away goals rule in the next round.

In the same season, Chelsea were knocked out of the FA Cup by Second Division Leyton Orient despite having led 2–0, and lost in the League Cup final to underdogs Stoke City. Sony VAIO VGN-CS60B/P Battery

The 1972–73 season began with a 4–0 win over Leeds and the club were 4th in the table in December, but after a 3–0 aggregate loss toNorwich City in the League Cup semi-finals the season fizzled out and Chelsea won just 5 of their last 21 league games, eventually finishing 12th. They finished 17th the following season. Sony VAIO VGN-CS60B/Q Battery

The feud between Sexton and Osgood and Hudson reached its apogee after a 4–2 home defeat to West Ham United on Boxing Day 1973, after Chelsea had led 2–0 at half-time;[31] the pair were both sold a few months later. Sexton himself was sacked early into the 1974–75 season after a poor start, and succeeded by his assistant, Sony VAIO VGN-CS60B/R Battery

Ron Suart, who was unable to reverse the club's decline and they were relegated in 1975.

The building of the pioneering East Stand (which retains its place even in the modern stadium) as part of a plan to create a 60,000 all-seater stadium added to the club's woes. The project had been described as "the most ambitious ever undertaken in Britain".Sony VAIO VGN-CS61B/P Battery

It coincided with a world economic crisis and was hit by delays, a builders' strike and shortages of materials, all of which sent the cost escalating out of control, to the extent that the club's debts stood at £4m by 1977.[33] As a result, between August 1974 and June 1978, Chelsea were unable to buy a single player. Sony VAIO VGN-CS61B/Q Battery

The decline of the team was matched by a decline in attendances – those who remained were marred by a fierce reputation for violence amongst a section of the Chelsea support (the boundary between passion andhooliganism being dangerously narrow in those days). The late 1970s and the 1980s saw the height of football hooliganism in Britain; Sony VAIO VGN-CS61B/R Battery

while the problem was widespread, Chelsea's hooligan element became particularly notorious and would blight the club throughout the following years.[34]

In the mid-1970s, Chelsea fans were "involved in... many incidents of violence, vandalism and general mayhem."[35] Sony VAIO VGN-CS62JB/P Battery

At Luton Town, Chelsea supporters invaded the pitch, smashed shop windows en route back to Luton station, and then set light to their Football Special, resulting in over 100 arrests.[35] During a match against Charlton Athletic at The Valley in 1977, Chelsea fans lit fires on the terraces. Sony VAIO VGN-CS62JB/Q Battery

In 1976–77, both league matches against Millwall, another club with a notorious hooligan element among their support, were marred by crowd violence.[36][37] The hooliganism prompted Minister for Sport Denis Howell to ban Chelsea fans from away matches in April 1977 – a similar restriction was also placed on Sony VAIO VGN-CS62JB/R Battery

Manchester United fans – although thousands of Chelsea fans defied the ban and travelled to the following match against Wolverhampton Wanderers.[38]

Former left-back Eddie McCreadie became manager shortly before Chelsea's relegation in 1975 and, Sony VAIO VGN-CS71B/W Battery

after a year of consolidation in 1975–76, led the side to promotion again in 1976–77 with a team composed of youth players, most notably Ray Wilkins and 24-goal striker Steve Finnieston, and veterans from more successful times like Cooke, Harris and Bonetti. Sony VAIO VGN-CS72JB/W Battery

But McCreadie left following a contract dispute with chairman Brian Mears over a company car[39] and another ex-player was appointed, this time former right-back Ken Shellito.

Shellito kept Chelsea in the First Division in 1977–78, though the highlight of that season was a 4–2 win over Europeanchampions Liverpool in the FA Cup. Sony VAIO VGN-CS90HS Battery

Shellito resigned midway through the following season with the club having won just three league games by Christmas. Even the brief return of Osgood did little to improve the club's fortunes. Shellito's successor, former double-winning Tottenham Hotspur captain Danny Blanchflower was unable to stem the slump Sony VAIO VGN-CS90NS Battery

and the club were relegatedagain with just five league wins and 27 defeats, ushering in one of the bleakest periods in Chelsea's history.

Wilkins, one of the club's few remaining stars, was sold to Manchester United and England's 1966 World Cup final hero Geoff Hurst became manager in September 1979 with Bobby Gould as his assistant. Sony VAIO VGN-CS90S Battery

Their arrival saw an immediate upturn in Chelsea's form, and for a large period Chelsea topped the Second Division table, but a late collapse saw them finish 4th, meaning the club missed out on promotion on goal difference. In the next season the team struggled to score goals, going on a nine-match run without one, Sony VAIO VGN-CS91HS Battery

winning only three matches in twenty and finishing 12th in 1980–81.[40] Hurst was sacked.

In 1981 Mears resigned as chairman, ending his family's 76-year association with the club. One of Mears' last actions was to appoint former Wrexham boss John Neal as manager. Sony VAIO VGN-CS91NS Battery

A year later, Chelsea Football & Athletic Company, heavily in debt and unable to pay its players, was acquired from the Mears family interests by businessman and one-time chairman of Oldham Athletic, Ken Bates, for the sum of £1, though for reasons which remain disputed, he did not buy SB Properties, the company which now owned the Stamford Bridge freehold. Sony VAIO VGN-CS91S Battery

By this point, Chelsea were in a parlous financial state and losing £12,000 a week.[41] Bates would later describe what he took over as "a social club with a little football played on a Saturday".

There were hangers-on in the wrong areas, all over the club. Sony VAIO VGN-CS92DS Battery

I wrote everything off and started again. Chelsea used to have a bootman to clean the boots. The apprentices just stood around watching him clean away. He went. The directors had their own chauffeur to drive them around town. He went. Even the lottery lost money. How? There were just two birds selling tickets. They went. Sony VAIO VGN-CS92JS Battery

1981–82, an otherwise forgettable season during which Chelsea again finished 12th, Chelsea went on their first significant FA Cup run for years and drew European champions Liverpool in the fifth round. They outplayed their illustrious opponents and won 2–0. In the quarter-finals, Sony VAIO VGN-CS92XS Battery

they were pitted against old rivals Tottenham Hotspur who, in a pulsating game, won 3–2, despite Chelsea taking the lead through Mike Fillery. The 1982–83 season proved to be the worst in Chelsea's history. Following a bright start, the team slumped dramatically, Sony VAIO VGN-FW11E Battery

going on a nine-match winless run as the season drew to a close and faced relegation to the Third Division which, given the club's financial troubles, could well have dealt it a killer blow. In the penultimate game of the season at fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers, Clive Walker hit a last-minute winner from 25 yards (23 m) to ensure a crucial 1–0 win. Sony VAIO VGN-FW11L Battery

A draw at home to Middlesbrough in the final game ensured the club's survival by two points.

As noted above, when Bates bought Chelsea in 1982 he only bought the club and not SB Properties, the company which now owned the freehold of Stamford Bridge; the club and the stadium had been separated in financial restructuring during the late 1970s.[ Sony VAIO VGN-FW11M Battery

Bates initially agreed a seven year lease, which would keep Chelsea at Stamford Bridge while its future was decided.[44]

According to Bates, he and David Mears, the majority shareholder of SB Properties, shook hands on a deal which would see Chelsea acquire Mears' stake in SB Properties for £450,000.[45] Sony VAIO VGN-FW11S Battery

However, Bates later discovered that Mears was also in discussions with Crystal Palace owner Ron Noades, with a view to moving Chelsea away from Stamford Bridge and have them ground share with Palace at Selhurst Park.[46] Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU Battery

Mears and Lord Chelsea subsequently sold their shares in SB Properties to property developers Marler Estates, giving Marler a 70% stake in the company.[45] This began a long campaign by Marler to force Chelsea out of Stamford Bridge so it could be sold off and redeveloped. Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E/H Battery

Over the next decade, Bates waged a war of attrition against Marler, acquiring a minority stake in SB Properties and initiating a series of court injunctions and delaying tactics, designed to wear them down.[47] He also launched the "Save the Bridge" campaign, with the aim of raising £15m to acquire the freehold from Marler. Sony VAIO VGN-FW140AE Battery

Marler in turn put forward several schemes which would see Chelsea removed from Stamford Bridge. David Bulstrode, chairman of Marler, proposed a merger between Fulham and Queens Park Rangers, with Chelsea then relocating to Rangers' Loftus Road stadium. Sony VAIO VGN-FW140D Battery

In March 1986, Marler's plans to redevelop the Stamford Bridge site without Chelsea were approved by Hammersmith and Fulham Council; the council reversed its policy when the Labour Party gained control of it in May 1986.[48] In December 1987, in a "momentous decision",Sony VAIO VGN-FW140E Battery

Bates' own plans to redevelop Stamford Bridge into a modern football stadium were approved by the council's planning committee.[49]

Chelsea were nonetheless served notice to quit Stamford Bridge, upon the expiry of the lease in 1989.[47] Sony VAIO VGN-FW140E/H Battery

However, Cabra Estates, which had purchased Marler in 1989, were eventually bankrupted in the property market crash of 1992. This enabled Bates to do a deal with their creditors, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and reunite the freehold with the club.[50] Bates then created the Chelsea Pitch Owners, Sony VAIO VGN-FW140E/W Battery

a non-profit organisation owned by the fans which in 1997 purchased thefreehold of the stadium, the club's naming rights and the pitch to ensure that property developers could never again try to purchase Stamford Bridge. Following this, work was begun to renovate the entire stadium (bar the East Stand), Sony VAIO VGN-FW140FE Battery

making it all-seater and bringing the stands closer to the pitch and under cover, which was finally completed by the millennium.

The summer of 1983 marked a turning point in Chelsea's history. Manager John Neal made a series of signings who were to be crucial in turning around the club's fortunes. Sony VAIO VGN-FW140N Battery

In came striker Kerry Dixon from Reading, skillful winger Pat Nevin from Clyde, midfielder Nigel Spackman from Bournemouth and goalkeeper Eddie Niedzwiecki from Wrexham in addition to John Hollins returning as player-coach, all for a combined total of less than £500,000. Sony VAIO VGN-FW140N/W Battery

Dixon struck up a prolific strike partnership with fellow Neal signing David Speedie and both linked up well with Nevin, a combination that would produce almost 200 goals in three years.

The new-look Chelsea began the 1983–84 season with a 5–0 win against Derby County on the opening day and romped to promotion; Sony VAIO VGN-FW145E Battery

among the highlights were a 5–3 at Fulham and a 4–0 win over Kevin Keegan's Newcastle United. After a dip in form around Christmas, Neal signed winger Mickey Thomas and Chelsea did not lose another game that season. Dixon hit 36 goals in all competitions – a seasonal tally bettered only by Sony VAIO VGN-FW145E/W Battery

Bobby Tambling and Jimmy Greaves – and promotion was sealed with another 5–0 win over old adversaries Leeds United. The team were crowned Second Division champions on the final day with a win away at Grimsby Town, with some 10,000 Chelsea fans making the trip to Lincolnshire.[51] Sony VAIO VGN-FW160AE Battery

Upon their return to the First Division, Chelsea were unlikely European contenders in 1984–85, eventually finishing 6th, although the events at Heysel that season rendered European qualification moot. They were also on course to reach their third League Cup final, drawing relegation candidates Sunderland in the semi-finals. Sony VAIO VGN-FW160D Battery

However, ex-Chelsea winger Clive Walker inspired his team to a 3–2 win at Stamford Bridge to seal a 5–2 aggregate win for Sunderland, which was followed by a near-riot; the game continued with mounted police and supporters on the pitch, with the violence later spilling over onto the streets.[52] Sony VAIO VGN-FW160E Battery

Neal retired at the end of the season due to ill health, and was replaced by Hollins.

In Hollins' first season, Chelsea challenged for the title, topping the table in February, but long-term injuries to Dixon and Niedzwiecki, combined with a poor run of results, especially during the Easter period, Sony VAIO VGN-FW160E/H Battery

during which the side conceded ten goals in two games, appeared to end their chances. A 2–1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford and another by the same scoreline overWest Ham at Upton Park – effectively denying the latter the title – left Chelsea three points behind leaders Liverpool with five games remaining. Sony VAIO VGN-FW160F/E Battery

One point from the remaining fixtures, however, denied them and another 6th place finish was the result. In the same season, the inaugural Full Members Cup was won with a 5–4 win over Manchester City at Wembley, thanks to a Speedie hat-trick and in spite of the opposition fighting back from 1–5 down. Sony VAIO VGN-FW170J/H Battery

Following this new beginning, the form of the side slumped again, finishing 14th in the next season. The spirit of the side began to disintegrate after Hollins and his assistant Ernie Walley fell out with several key players, notably Speedie and Spackman, who were subsequently sold.[53] Sony VAIO VGN-FW180AE Battery

Hollins was sacked in March the following season with the side again in relegation trouble. Bobby Campbell took over in March but couldn't prevent Chelsea's relegation via the short-lived play-off system with a loss to Middlesbrough, a match which was again followed by crowd trouble and an attempted pitch invasion, Sony VAIO VGN-FW180D Battery

resulting in a six-match closure of the terraces the following season. Nevertheless, the club bounced back immediately and emphatically, despite failing to win any of their opening six league games, and were promoted as Second Division champions with 99 points, 17 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City. Sony VAIO VGN-FW180E Battery

Chelsea had an impressive return to the First Division in 1989–90. Campbell guided a squad of mostly unremarkable players to a creditable fifth place in the final table. Although the ban on English clubs in European football was lifted that year, Chelsea missed out on a UEFA Cup place because the only English place in the competition that year went to league runners-up Aston Villa. Sony VAIO VGN-FW180E/H Battery

In the same season, he led Chelsea to their second Full Members Cup success, with a 1–0 win over Middlesbrough in the final at Wembley. Despite recruiting the club's first million pound players, Dennis Wise and Andy Townsend, the next season proved a disappointment, as Chelsea finished 11th in the First Division and were knocked out of both cups by lower league opposition. Sony VAIO VGN-FW180FU Battery

Campbell was promoted to general manager at the end of the season; he was succeeded as team manager by first team coach Ian Porterfield, who helped Chelsea finish high enough in 1991–92 to qualify for the first-ever season of the Premier League. Porterfield was sacked halfway through the 1992–93 season, Sony VAIO VGN-FW190EBH Battery

with the team having not won a league match for two months. He was replaced on a caretaker basis by 1970 FA Cup hero, David Webb, who steered the club clear of relegation and eventually secured an 11th place finish. Webb was replaced by 35-year-old former England midfielder Glenn Hoddle, who had just won promotion to the Premiership as player-manager of Swindon Town. Sony VAIO VGN-FW190ECH Battery

Hoddle's first season as manager saw Chelsea's league form dip slightly, and for a time they were threatened by relegation, with the goals of £1.5m signing Mark Stein playing an important part in survival. In the same season Chelsea reached the FA Cup Final, where they faced Premiership champions Manchester United, Sony VAIO VGN-FW190EDH Battery

a team Chelsea had beaten 1–0 in both league games that season. After going in 0–0 at half-time, United were awarded two second-half penalties by referee David Elleray in the space of five minutes, both of which were scored. With Chelsea having to attack, it left gaps in defence and United eventually won 4–0. Sony VAIO VGN-FW190NAH Battery

This was nevertheless sufficient for Chelsea to compete in the 1994–95 Cup Winners Cup, since United had already qualified for the Champions League. They reached the semi-finals of that competition, going out 3–2 on aggregate to eventual winners Real Zaragoza. Sony VAIO VGN-FW190NBH Battery

With Chelsea's future at Stamford Bridge now secure, Bates and millionaire director Matthew Harding were now making money available for the club to spend on players. In the summer of 1995, Chelsea recruited two world-famous players, Dutch legend Ruud Gullit, on a free transfer from Sampdoria, Sony VAIO VGN-FW190NCH Battery

and Manchester United striker Mark Hughes (£1.5 m), both of whom would play a significant role in the club's future success. Hoddle also signed talented Romanian full-back Dan Petrescu for £2.3m. Hoddle guided Chelsea to another 11th place finish in 1995–96, and another FA Cup semi-final, and then resigned to become manager of theEngland national team. Sony VAIO VGN-FW190NDH Battery

Gullit was appointed player-manager for the 1996–97 season, and added several top-class players to the side, including European Cup-winning Juventus striker Gianluca Vialli, cultured French defender Frank Leboeuf and Italian internationals Gianfranco Zola Sony VAIO VGN-FW190NEH Battery

(whose skill would make him a firm favourite with the crowd and see him become one of Chelsea's greatest ever players) and Roberto Di Matteo(the latter for a club record £4,900,000). They were later joined by the powerful and prolific Uruguayan midfielder Gustavo Poyet andNorwegian "super-sub" Tore André Flo. Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H Battery

With such players, it was under Gullit and his successor that Chelsea emerged as one of England's top sides again and gained a reputation for playing a neat, entertaining and attractive passing game performed by technically gifted players, which was informally dubbed "sexy football", though the club's inconsistency against supposed "smaller" teams remained. Sony VAIO VGN-FW260J/B Battery

Gullit capped an impressive first season in management by leading Chelsea to their highest league placing since 1990 (6th) and winning the FA Cup, ending the club's 26-year wait for a major trophy. The most memorable match of the run was a 4th round comeback againstLiverpool, in which Chelsea, inspired by Hughes, Sony VAIO VGN-FW280J/H Battery

overturned a 2–0 half-time deficit to win 4–2. The 2–0 victory over Middlesbroughin the final at Wembley got off to a frantic start with Di Matteo scoring after 43 seconds; Eddie Newton's late goal clinched it. Sony VAIO VGN-FW290JRB Battery

The win was a happy end to a season which had looked to be dominated by sadness after the death in October of popular director and financial benefactor Matthew Harding in a helicopter crash following a League Cup match against Bolton Wanderers.

Gullit was suddenly sacked in February 1998, ostensibly after a contract dispute,[54] Sony VAIO VGN-FW290JTB Battery

with the team 2nd in the Premiership, and in the semi-finals of two cup competitions. Another player-manager was appointed – the 33-year-old Vialli. Vialli began his management career in style by winning two trophies in two months. The League Cup was secured with another 2–0 win over Middlesbrough at Wembley (with Di Matteo again on the scoresheet). Sony VAIO VGN-FW290JTH Battery

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