The 1960's- A simpler time.
Where players were tough, and British football was a definition of physical game. The 60s are also the year when Leeds United started their "beef" with Chelsea F.C. speaking colloquially.
Today, more than fifty years later, let's take a moment and appreciate something that had it's culminating point in what is today known as one of the most brutal games of football in history, a replay of FA Cup Final at Old Trafford.
Let's first take a look at what happened before The Carnage on Old Trafford. Both of the clubs were having a winning streak at the time and started to compete for major trophies. Emotions, powered by the traditional South-North Divide were only adding fuel to the fire.
There was a big difference between the reputation of both clubs. While Leeds were considered dirty and a bit cynical, Chelsea was considered posh and associated with celebrities.
Damien Blake of When Saturday Comes wrote:
"Chelsea were the Beatles (attractive, clean-cut, fashionable) to Leeds' Stones (surly, violent, sexy, going out with Marianne Faithfull).
In the league match between those two teams in September 1964. There was so many reckless tackles and violence that the match was summed up as scything by one of the commentators and it saw Leeds finish the game down to 10 men after McCreadle tackle on Giles, after which the former had been taken off on the stretches.
Even more violent was the FA Cup Final in 1967 when Gary Sprake kicked Chelsea's John Boyle in the face. Two late goals for Leeds disallowed by the referee only spiced things up and added to the grudge held against The Blues. Leeds had got their revenge six months later by setting a highest ever win against Chelsea London, 7-0 at Elland Road.
On April 11th 1970, The Blues and The Whites met in FA Cup Final, in a match that would later be remembered as one of the most brutal confrontations in football history, and as a game that cemented the rivalry between those two teams. When asked to review the game a couple of years later, a modern referee David Elleray stated that if he were to be the judge of this game, he would have given away six red cards and twenty yellow ones. While the ref on that day, Eric Jennings, booked only one player, Ian Hutchinson from Chelsea. Some of the commentators stated that:
"At times it appeared that Mr. Jennings would give a free kick only on production of a death certificate."
The clash ended with 1-2 on extra time for Chelsea and saw one of Leeds' greatest players Jack Charlton leave the field without even collecting his runners up medal. When asked about the result, Charlton said that:
"It wasn't the losing of the game, it was the losing of the game to Chelsea, because there were never two more competitive sides when we played each other over a period of four or five years."
For those of you who want to see how it went, here's the highlights video, but it's strongly recommended to watch the full game.
After the final, both teams met several times on different occasions and continued to provide spectators with matches full of brutality and physical competition. After Leeds were relegated in 2004, teams have met only once in League Cup in 2012 at Elland Road and The Pensioners went home with a 5-1 win over The Peacocks.
The battle between Chelsea and Leeds is one of the most fierce rivalries in English Football history. And hopefully, with a promotion to the Premier League in-reach for the Whites: The rivalry can continue.