Leeds United and Chelsea were one of English Football’s top rivalries beginning in the 1960s. Both clubs had a series of fiercely contested and controversial matches and were frequently involved in domestic and European challenges. What also fueled the rivalry was the contrast between the cities that both clubs represent which the matchup was summed up as the “Yorkshire grit versus Flash Cockneys”.
Notable fights between the two clubs were led by Leeds’ Norman Hunter and Chelsea’s Peter Osgood, both former players engaged in a number of fierce encounters on the pitch.
Off the pitch, the rivalry also spilled outside of the stands between the club’s ultras and firms. Chelsea’s Headhunters and Leeds’ Service Crew had numerous violent encounters with each other. The rivalry even went up in the administration when former Chelsea chairman, Ken Bates took over the club. Leeds fans did not approve and grew very hostile of the move and got worse when Bates appointed former Chelsea captain Dennis Wise as manager in 2006. This resulted with the chant “Get the Chelsea out of Leeds.” A former Chelsea player and Wise’s assistant, Gus Poyet, later commented that “The fans didn’t want us there because of the rivalry with Chelsea.”
The rivalry would die down with Leeds relegated from the Premier League in 2004. The clubs wouldn’t meet, barring once for their League Cup matchup in 2012, until this season following Leeds winning the Championship in 2019/20.
One watershed game between the two clubs was the 1970 FA Cup final. The Cup final had to be played twice due to the first game being drawn 2-2 at Wembley. The second match at Old Trafford ended with a Chelsea victory 2-1 but the result was overlooked due to being the dirtiest games of English football. Both matches were filled with headbutts, punches, dirty tackles, and kung fu kicks. It was a serious rivalry before the cup final but after the cup final, it became extremely personal for both clubs.
Chelsea reignited the rivalry with a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge. The clubs have faced each other 103 times with Leeds United leading with 39 wins, there have been 29 draws while Chelsea have won 35 times. The matchup Saturday has Chelsea visiting Elland Road for the first time since December of 2012 when they squared off for their League Cup match.
What are your most memorable matches or memories when both clubs clashed? Comment below.