Although I was not old enough to actually remember the FA Cup FInal of 1970, I do remember the nucleus of that team that stayed together at Chelsea for at least the first five years of the seventies. You will often hear people say that football is not the way it used to be and back then it was a "man's game". There is some truth to that because let us not forget that this was an era that also produced some very skill-full players in Britain alone such as George Best, Eddie Gray, Tony Currie, Stan Bowles and Frank Worthington to name just a few of many.
Tackles would go flying in but for the best part these players if they were caught by one would just get up and get on with it unlike modern players. The skill-full players of real talent would also have enough intelligence (or have to learn it quickly) to see many of these challenges coming and from that there is no doubt that it must have made them even better players than today's equivalent that are so well protected by the rules that at times because they know it they can antagonise their opponents knowing that they cannot touch them without the real threat of an easy red card decision going against them.
"Back in Those Days..."
I put that in quotes because it is another so well used expression we also knew our teams because the same players were selected week in and week out. I look at the Chelsea line-up from 1970 for the final which was Bonetti, Webb, McCreadie, Hollins, Dempsey, Harris, Baldwin, Houseman, Osgood, Hutchinson and Cooke and know that many of those players were still in the same numbered shirts playing regularly for Chelsea for years to come. Even more so with their opponents Leeds United. The line-up of Sprake, Madeley, Cooper, Bremner, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke, Jones, Giles and Gray (with of course Mick Bates as substitute) was almost an institution for a long while with only the likes of Reaney, Cherry and Yorath added to that line-up.
Ron "Chopper" Harris made his debut for Chelsea way back in 1962 and even when many of the stars from the early seventies did eventually leave Harris remained at the club and was even part of a team relegated twice from the old 1st Division. Having made an amazing 795 appearances for the club he made his last at Chelsea in 1980. In that period he won not only an FA Cup Winners medal in 1970 but a European Cup Winners Cup medal the following year when the London side beat Real Madrid after a replay in the final in Athens.
Chopper would see out his career at Brentford before a short stint in charge at Aldershot. Since then he has worked behind the scenes back at Chelsea and is an in-demand after dinner speaker. His stories no doubt reflect how he earned his nickname and many of the clashes that he had throughout his career. One of the famous ones probably happened in that FA Cup final with Leeds as after just eight minutes of the replay at Old Trafford he clattered into Eddie Gray with a late challenge leaving the Leeds winger's effectiveness for the remainder of the match pretty much obsolete.
When I also look back at this period of Chelsea's history, it is sad to think that many of these great players are no longer with us and that they seem to have had more than their fair share of losses. Peter Osgood, Peter Houseman, Keith Weller and Ian Hutchinson are all sadly no longer with us and Alan Hudson was very fortunate to survive an incident when he was hit by a car in 1997 leaving him with multiple injuries and in a coma for two months.
There were loads of articles on the old site and I have began to transfer some of the most popular ones over to this site.