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Little charity on display - Chelsea v Everton 1970 Charity Shield

As 1970 FA Cup holders, after two tempestuous matches against Leeds where Dave Sexton’s Chelsea belied the ‘southern softies’ tag, soaked up everything Don Revie’s side could throw at them and emerged gloriously triumphant, Chelsea had a pre-season Charity Shield to face against runaway Champions Everton. The game was at Stamford Bridge, the season curtain-raisers not moved to Wembley until the infamous Leeds v Liverpool clash of 1974.

That summer's Mexico World Cup had ended in disappointment for the two Chelsea members of the squad, Peter Osgood and Peter Bonetti, the former barely playing and the latter, brought in at short notice for the quarter-final against West Germany, blamed in some quarters for two of the goals as England crashed out 3-2. Four Everton players had also played in Mexico, full-backs Tommy Wright and Keith Newton, centre-half Brian Labone and perpetual motion-man Alan Ball. Brazil won the trophy and the stunning quality of their football was much praised by the English football press, who, perhaps optimistically, hoped that the domestic game would follow suit, and that physicality and defensive obduracy would somehow dissolve into the flowing football seen over the summer from Mario Zagalo's captivating side. One slight problem was that there were few Carlos Alberto, Gerson, Jairzinho, Rivelino or Pele clones starring in English football.

Sexton had moved astutely in the transfer market before the World Cup, signing highly rated goalscoring winger, and long-time target, Keith Weller from Millwall for £100,000, creating even more pressure for starting places in one of the strongest squads in England.

Football Monthly’s season preview predicted Chelsea would be in the reckoning ‘and if maintaining form will make a strong bid for European honours…The speed and bite of… Weller…should make for an even livelier attack.’ Chelsea had finished a creditable third, eleven points behind Harry Catterick’s men, and there was a general feeling that Chelsea were well-placed to pressurise Leeds and Everton in the League, as well as make a strong European challenge. The Evening Standard reckoned they would be the main rivals to Everton and felt that the size and strength of Sexton’s squad would be a real asset.

The pre-season tour of Holland was a disappointment, with two defeats and a draw from three games played, though a 1-1 draw at Ajax was commendable given Johann Cruyff, Johann Neeskens and Rudi Krol all played, and ten months later their hosts were the European Cup holders. The Daily Express revealed that on that tour, several players had been fined for breaking a late-night curfew, hardly a unique occurrence in Chelsea’s history.

A Daily Mirror interview with Ron Harris found the captain bullish about prospects. ‘Pre-season tours? If you judged Chelsea year after year on them, we’d be a disaster…It doesn’t seem to affect us though. Come the end of next month, and we’ve won a few games, it won’t even be a memory…I think we proved that Chelsea under Dave Sexton have really arrived, and that Southern teams are every bit as good as those in the North.’ He saw the League as the main thing to win. ‘It’s harder to win, I’ll admit that. You’ve got to be consistent throughout the year. That’s what we want to be.’ He was confident ‘that Chelsea will be up there’ and talked about ‘tremendous ability…a happy club…the rewards for us to do well are big…We’re in Europe too, and that’s an incentive in itself’. He thought Weller might need a little time to adjust ‘but he’s going to be a terrific asset for us.’ ‘Rothmans Football Yearbook’ reported that Chelsea had sold out their seat season-tickets, banking £142,000 in the process, a club record and evidence of the keen sense of anticipation that existed regarding the season ahead.

Sexton’s Charity Shield plans were disrupted by injuries to Eddie McCreadie, Charlie Cooke, John Dempsey and Tommy Baldwin. McCreadie recovered from groin trouble, returned to training a week early but tore ligaments in training. Cooke’s leg, Dempsey’s ankle and Baldwin’s achilles strain were also concerns, added to which John Boyle, impressive in pre-season, had hurt his knee. It was not clear where new signing Weller would play, though there was speculation the manager was mightily impressed by Jairzinho’s performances for Brazil at the World Cup and wanted to use Weller in a similar role, as a speedy, direct, goal-scoring winger. The player told the Daily Express 'Sexton has made me see the game in a completely different light…He is a fantastic coach.’

In what was not strictly a competitive game, Everton’s public approach to the Charity Shield was made clear by Catterick. 'The match is just another pre-season friendly and is of little consequence….the result is unimportant'. That apparent disinterest in picking up a trophy didn’t stop him picking a full-strength team, including the ‘holy trinity’ midfield of Ball, Colin Harvey and Howard Kendall.

Alan Hudson, so unfortunate to miss both Wembley and Old Trafford finals, was back in the team as the manager fielded his strongest possible side, in front of a very decent crowd of 43,547. Peter Bonetti; Paddy Mulligan, David Webb, Marvin Hinton, Ron Harris; John Hollins, Alan Hudson, Peter Houseman; Keith Weller, Peter Osgood, Ian Hutchinson.

Chelsea cranked up the pre-match atmosphere, and sense of eager anticipation, nicely by parading the FA Cup round the ground. Beforehand Osgood was also presented with Striker magazine ‘Striker Of The Year’ award by Radio One DJ Ed Stewart, ironically an Everton supporter. The award was hardly a surprise, as in his book ‘Chelsea FC In The Swinging ‘60s’, Osgood’s agent and business partner, Greg Tesser, admitted that he was good friends with editor Tony Power.

Sadly that was as good as it got for the disappointed home support, as Everton deservedly ground out a 2-1 win in a highly physical encounter, completely belying Catterick’s pre-match stated disinterest, which may have been designed to make the home players think they were in for a testimonial-style stroll in the park. The effervescent Weller, kicked throughout, was praised for his part in some ‘fine, attacking, football’ and quickly won the crowd over. Harris countered with some persistent physicality on Alan Whittle. Ian Hutchinson headed a typically brave consolation goal from Weller’s cross after Whittle and Kendall had put Everton two goals ahead. Chelsea had no answer to the effervescent Ball, a thorn in their side over previous seasons, and without Dempsey’s height could not cope with Joe Royle’s aerial talents. Everton played as though they wanted it more, and deserved to win.

Match reports bemoaned the physicality on display, from Harris and Everton’s Keith Newton in particular, seeing it as depressingly different from the majestic football played by Brazil just weeks earlier and designed to kick wingers Weller and Whittle out of the game.

The afternoon’s aftermath was interesting. Osgood had been substituted, Sexton thinking he ‘looked disheartened’. Two days later the Daily Express reported, under a 'Sexton Cracks Down' headline, that Osgood, Hutchinson, Webb, Hinton and Mulligan had been ordered in for extra training after a 'pedestrian performance'. The manager, unhappy with the defence, complained ‘we gave it to Everton on a plate’. The imposition of extra training seemed a strong reaction to what was in some ways a glorified friendly, showing the manager took that game very seriously, and also wanted to impress on his squad that he was going to be ruthless in demanding 100% from every man in every appearance. The People reported Sexton’s denial that Baldwin, picked for the reserves, had asked for a transfer after a midweek training flare-up. Maybe the Chelsea ship was a less happy one than Harris thought, worrying given that a major trophy had been won just months earlier.

The club was forced to apologise in the programme for the late sending out of season-tickets and Charity Shield tickets ‘due to circumstances beyond our control’. Exactly who else’s fault it might be was hard for disgruntled supporters to work out. Another event hardly unique, given this summer’s tardy communication and season ticket dispatch.

The game was shown on ‘Match Of The Day’ and the millions watching must have been impressed by Everton’s commitment and application, and assumed they were in for another successful season. A couple of weeks later the sides drew 2-2 in a League game at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea twice coming from behind in front of a very decent, for a night game, crowd of 48,195 and, again, the visitors impressed. Amazingly, given the strength of their side, Everton only won two away League games all season, finished a dismal fourteenth and were knocked out of the European Cup by Panathinaikos. It was to be over a decade before they won another trophy. Chelsea finished that season a slightly disappointing sixth, but more than compensated by winning their first European trophy in Athens the following May.

This article is based on an extract from ‘Sexton For God’ by Tim Rolls, covering Chelsea’s history from late 1967 to summer 1971. It is available on eBay and Amazon.

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