I’m writing this the morning after the night before. Twelve hours ago I was leaping around joyously as the man who would inevitably be known by the inhabitants of Merseyside as ‘Branny-lad’, assured himself of a place in Chelsea folklore as he emerged as the unlikely hero of a magnificent Champions League win at Anfield.
It hasn’t always been the case this season, but last night I went to bed with a smug, self-satisfied grin on my face – which doesn’t always happen when you’ve been married as long as I have – and this morning I woke up wallowing in the afterglow of a win that would have ripped through the heart of vile, Chelsea-hating, professional Scousers like John ‘are they your eyebrows or did you just walk through a hedge?’ Aldridge and Steve ‘run for your life, Vinnie’s coming’ McMahon.
Of course, the job isn’t complete yet and we still have to finish the tie off in the second leg, but if we are successful in defending our lead and sending Rafa’s whingers scuttling out of the Champions League one round earlier than we did last year, it will be the latest in a long(ish) line of famous cup victories over Liverpool. No ‘istoree? As every Scouser’s number one role model, Jim Royle, might say: “No ‘istoree, my arse.”
FA Cup Round 3 – 7 January 1978 – Chelsea 4 Liverpool 2
Liverpool arrived at Stamford Bridge as reigning champions of both England and Europe, and would successfully defend their European crown by beating FC Bruges at Wembley later that season. Chelsea’s campaign, their first back in the top-flight after two years in the Second Division, was never going to be destined to end with such glories, but for a side hovering just above the relegation zone, this was as good as it got.
The visitors were at full-strength as they took to the field on a cold winter’s afternoon, their team littered with top internationals such as Kenny Dalglish, Emlyn Hughes and Ray Clemence. Chelsea, on the other hand, were without the influential Ray Wilkins, Kenny Swain and Micky Droy, so fielded a team littered with the likes of Graham Wilkins, John Sparrow and Bill Garner.
Playing on the left wing for the Blues that day was 20-year-old Clive Walker, who had introduced himself to the Chelsea faithful in style earlier that season with an excellent brace in a 3-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Moulineux. Against Liverpool, he introduced himself to the nation.
Liverpool’s legendary manager, Bob Paisley, had opted to switch his full-backs for the Stamford Bridge clash, asking England right-back Phil Neal to play on the left and deploying his tough-tackling regular left-back, Joey Jones, on the right in an attempt to nullify the threat of Walker. Now, Joey is a friend of mine, a guy I love dearly and probably my favourite Chelsea player ever, but it has to be said that Walker smashed the granny out of him that day! And didn’t we all love it, because at the time, Joey was known simply as ‘that dirty Welsh bastard, Jones’.
It was Walker who opened the scoring when his quick throw-in was touched back to him by Garner, before the pacy winger streaked past Jones and sent a swerving shot flashing beyond the reach of Clemence and into the top corner of the England custodian’s net.
A goal to the good at half-time, manager Ken Shellito – enjoying what would prove to be comfortably the highlight of his short managerial tenure – replaced the ageing Charlie Cooke with the somewhat more youthful Steve Finnieston, and it was ‘Super Jock’ who doubled Chelsea’s lead with a low shot from twelve yards soon after the break.
Within minutes of Finnieston’s strike, Ian Britton attempted to race past Neal on Chelsea’s right wing, only for the Liverpool man to relieve the little Scot of possession. However, to the astonishment of 45,000 punters squeezed into a heaving Stamford Bridge, Neal then played a poor pass back towards his own goal which Tommy Langley raced on to and lifted expertly over Clemence to give lowly Chelsea an astonishing 3-0 lead over their much-vaunted visitors.
David Johnson’s close-range strike caused a few flutters among the Chelsea faithful, but any doubts about the outcome were laid to rest when Garner set up Walker for his second of the game. Walker’s jubilation was in stark contrast to the frustration felt by Joey Jones, who was so irritated after being substituted that as he pulled on his track-suit top, his fist inadvertently flew through the sleeve and landed in Bob Paisley’s face. Joey never played for Liverpool again.
A late second for the Reds could not detract from a magnificent victory for Shellito’s young side, and the only sour note of the afternoon came from the behaviour of Liverpool captain Emlyn Hughes, who despicably tried to get Garner sent-off by feigning that he had been head-butted, after the Chelsea man squared up to the irritating squeaker in the Liverpool penalty area. The referee ignored Hughes’ histrionics, as did his team-mates, amongst whom he was almost universally despised. In fact, he was probably more unpopular in the Anfield changing room than any other, and that really is saying something.
Kelvin is the author of Celery! Representing Chelsea in the 1980s
Part two (FA Cup Round 5 – 13 February 1982 – Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0) coming soon