Leeds against Chelsea stands for the lingering hatred that is the North-South divide in the flesh
22:42 GMT, 17 December 2012
Fifteen minutes into their Barclays Premier League game at Sunderland 10 days ago, the 3,000 Chelsea fans broke into a chant. Their side were 1-0 up, after a great Fernando Torres volley.
They did not chant about Torres, though.
It was the minute before these fans sang about Roberto Di Matteo, so it was not his moment. On the touchline Rafa Benitez paced and pointed. It was the first Chelsea game after their Champions League exit; there were plenty of issues to occupy Blues thoughts.
Just the ticket: David Webb heads in the winning goal for Chelsea in the brutal 1970 FA Cup Final replay
Up for the cup: Ron Harris and John Hollins parade the trophy after the match
Leeds, too, have issues. One of them is a collective yearning about slipping off the radar, so perhaps there is strange reassurance taken from remaining on Chelsea’s. Which is why there is so much anticipation about tomorrow night at Elland Road. For the first time in eight-and-a-half years, Leeds United play Chelsea. It is the League Cup quarter-final, but it is more than that: it is the resumption of one of English football’s most fierce rivalries.
Given that around 200 miles separate Elland Road from Stamford Bridge, this is no local derby. Yet it carries that intensity and has done for decades. This is an accepted fact in English football, yet why
It can be vicious: witness the 1970 FA Cup final replay, when referee Eric Jennings let so much go that Hugh McIlvanney wrote: ‘At times, it appeared that Mr Jennings would give a free-kick only on production of a death certificate.’
There was one booking. David Elleray ‘re-refereed’ the game years later and said there should have been six reds and 20 yellows.
Oi, ref! Ken Burns being shouted at by Leeds players Jimmy Greenhoff, Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles and Willie Bell
Rout: Chelsea's Mickey Thomas is mobbed by fans after his team's 5-0 win over their rivals in 1984
But what did Chelsea’s supporters sing ‘We all hate Leeds and Leeds.’ It was to the tune of The Dam Busters.
the Midlands, Leeds United had just lost 2-1 at Derby County to sit
14th in the Championship. They were separated by 31 places from Chelsea,
in a different division.
United have played Stockport County in League One more recently than
faced Chelsea in the top flight. But what is the first song frequently
heard from the Leeds Kop It contains the phrase: ‘Shoot the Chelsea
scum.’ That former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates is Leeds chairman does not
Famous faces: Paul Reaney (left) and Jack Charlton (right) hugging Peter Lorimer
The Leeds great, Peter Lorimer, who was never mistaken for an angel, remarked that Chelsea ‘kicked everything above grass’. No foul was given for Eddie McCreadie’s kung-fu kick on Billy Bremner’s head. ‘It was just the way the game was played back then,’ Paul Madeley said on Monday, from Yorkshire.
Then there was the last game of the 1983-84 season. Chelsea beat Leeds 5-0 at Stamford Bridge to win the old Second Division, prompting a riot as Leeds fans dismantled the scoreboard and police scurried to keep fans apart.
Yet the 1960s source of this rivalry would seem to be in sport. In 1963, Chelsea were promoted to the old First Division; in 1964, Leeds were promoted. They were coming teams brimming with talent and by 1965, both finished in the top three, behind title-winners Manchester United.
Chelsea and Leeds had become challengers, and the tension derived from just that, the challenge. Yet there was something else to this. It is fairly amazing to note that Chelsea have never bought a senior Leeds player, not one; Leeds did not sign a Chelsea player until Tony Dorigo moved to Elland Road in 1991.
Reviewing the two teams of the mid-1960s through to that volcanic 1970 Cup final, another pattern emerges: this was the North-South divide made flesh.
Both Leeds and Chelsea had Scotsmen and Irishmen in their sides but when it came to Englishmen, of the recognised great Don Revie XI, only Paul Reaney was born south of Coventry, and he grew up in Yorkshire. Jack Charlton, Madeley, Norman Hunter, Terry Cooper and Mick Jones were all Northern men, like Middlesbrough-born Revie.
As for Chelsea, their London contingent was considerable — Peter Bonetti, Ron Harris, Alan Hudson, Marvin Hinton, David Webb and Peter Houseman were all Londoners. John Hollins and Peter Osgood both came from the Home Counties.
‘From within the dressing room, of course, we were rivals and the lads would be really up for any games against Chelsea and Liverpool at that time, but off the pitch, we were all quite friendly,’ Madeley added.
‘Having said that, there was the extra North-South dimension with Chelsea, which did add a bit more fuel to the fire.’
Across the divide: Ken Bates, then chairman of Chelsea, appeals to the fans to keep off the pitch after winning promotion to Division One in 1984
Changing times: Roman Abramovich (right) is now the owner of Chelsea
Hollins, with 593 appearances, is as Chelsea as they come. He recalled the origin of this modern fixation. ‘In the early 60s we were an up-and-coming very young side. Leeds were the same, but a little ahead of us,’ he explained. ‘We were young, cheeky, London, Chelsea.
‘In one of my first seasons, we were unbeaten in our first 10 games and top of the league. We were running people off the pitch.
‘I remember a game at Leeds in the season of 1964-65, around this time of year — it was always this time of year at Leeds. It was tense. The game should not have been played because the pitch was iced up. We didn’t have the studs you have now. We changed ours before kick-off — we went for the leather type with little nails in them. So did they.
True blue: Hollins recalled several feisty clashes with Leeds
‘All of a sudden you had a good grip on the pitch, you could turn and play. The thing is, if you did catch anyone with a stud, you could rip a sock or something. It finished 2-2, I think. That was a day we thought, “Dirty b******s, wait ’til you come back to our place”.
‘Then, there was the semi-final of the FA Cup at Villa Park in 1967. We won 1-0. Leeds had a goal disallowed, a shot from Lorimer. The referee said the wall wasn’t back the full 10 yards! That really got them. The word “hatred” came up then, and we were at each other all the time on the pitch. We knew who to hit.’
That was April 1967. In, October Leeds got revenge, beating Chelsea 7-0 at Elland Road.
‘Leeds started like a house on fire, remembering what had gone on before,’ Hollins said. ‘They did to us what they did to Southampton that famous time. We couldn’t get near them. Bremner was their engine, their spark, brave as a lion.’
Bitterness was gathering. Hollins saw it personified in two men — Charlton and Osgood.
Tricky: Peter Osgood escaped Charlton and scored this diving header in the contentious 1970 FA Cup Final replay
‘That was personal. Ossie used to elbow him, knock him, try to get him annoyed. Ossie was one of the best at that.
‘He enjoyed Leeds games; he got at them. And that header in the replay in Manchester was his best goal ever, I think that was his favourite goal.
‘He didn’t like Jack Charlton. At one point in the final, Ossie and Jack had a fight off the ball. The ref just waved play on.’
On Wednesday, there will be fewer Yorkshiremen and Londoners on the pitch, but the officials will need to be vigilant. The police are on alert.
But beneath the tension is a football match. As Hollins added: ‘I remember, after the first game at Wembley in 1970, we all shook hands, we never swapped shirts then.
‘I helped carry Billy Bremner off the pitch because he had cramp. Then I got cramp. We were good mates, too. It was just when the white or blue shirt went on…’