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Soccer Fixture: Chelsea Versus Manchester United
Chelsea v Manchester United is one of the classic north-south fixtures in the English football calendar.
Chelsea first faced Manchester United on Christmas Day 1905 – some nine months after the club was founded by Edwardian businessman Henry Augustus ‘Gus’ Mears. The match was played at Bank Street, Clayton, Manchester and attracted a crowd of 35,000 to witness the 0.0 draw in this Football League Second Division clash.
Mears hired a famous architect of the time, Archibald Leach, to build a grand new stadium – Stamford Bridge – at Fulham Road, where the new team would play. The first football match played there was a friendly against Liverpool on 4 September 1905, which Chelsea won 4.0. The game also featured the first 4-page match program in London and reflected the growing interest in football in southern England, away from its original heartland in the north and Midlands.
Manchester United traveled south for the first time to play the Pensioners at Stamford Bridge on 13 April 1906 – this time it was Good Friday, but the result was still a draw, in front of a huge holiday crowd of 67,000. Charles Sagar put United ahead early in the second half before Tommy McDermott equalized for Chelsea ten minutes from time.
It was Sagar’s first season at Manchester United and he scored on his league debut for them in a 5.1 win against Bristol City. Wayne Rooney is the only other United player in football history to score a hat-trick on his debut for the club. The Red Devils were second in the league at the time of this Easter clash with Chelsea and, indeed, would finish runners-up to Bristol City (the club they beat on the opening day of the season) to gain promotion to the English First Division. Chelsea finished third in their first competitive league season.
Chelsea had to travel to Bank Street again to beat Man United for the first time – now in the League Division – on 7 November 1908. The game ended 1.0 to Chelsea with George Hilsdon scoring their winning goal from the penalty spot. At Stamford Bridge, however, the wait for victory was much longer – almost 12 years in fact; and the World War separated these first two victories.
George Hilsdon began his career at West Ham United, joining Chelsea in 1906. He was two better than Sagar and Rooney, scoring five goals on his Chelsea debut in a 9.2 win over Glossop North End (Glossop are just under fourteen miles from Manchester!) . He was the first player to score 100 goals for the club and was known in West London by his nickname “The Gatling Gun”. He was given this designation because he was known for hitting unstoppable shots that were so powerful they felt like they were fired from a gun! After scoring a total of 108 goals for Chelsea, he returned to play for West Ham before being drafted into service in the First World War where he was seriously injured on the Western Front in a mustard gas attack. Only four people attended his funeral when he died, in Leicester, in 1941, and he lay in an unmarked grave for around 74 years until Chelsea fans rallied to fund a tombstone for this now-forgotten hero.
Manchester United won at Chelsea for the first time on September 28, 1907 – a 4.1 win in the First Division. Hillsdon got a Chelsea goal again and Billy Meredith made it two for the Reds. United continued to perform well at Fulham, winning three and drawing two in their next five league games. It wasn’t until 17 January 1920 that Chelsea finally secured their first home win over Man United – 1.0 in Division 1 – in front of a crowd of 40,000. Center forward John Kok scored the only goal of the game. This will be the occasion for great celebration – brightening the post-war gloom in that part of the capital – ironically, on the same day that Prohibition went into effect in the US.
On 6 September 1930, Chelsea scored six goals (the most goals in a home game between two teams) past an Old Trafford player. Alexander Cheyne scored a hat-trick on the day and Hughie Gallacher got two more in a 6.2 over win. a top-flight clash watched by 48,648 at the Bridge.
Alexander ‘Alec’ Cheine signed for Chelsea that year alone for a then club record fee of £6,000. A year earlier, while playing for his native Scotland against England, Cheyne scored a direct goal from a corner with just a minute left in the match. The 110,000 fans – most of them rooting for Scotland, who were down to ten men at the time – continued even after the final whistle. This was the first time such a noise had been recorded and it became known as the ‘Hampden Roar’ and the match was forever branded as the ‘Cheine International’.
Chelsea’s biggest lead in a win against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge came sixty-nine years later on 3 October 1999. The Blues won by 5.0 in the Premier League in front of a crowd of 34,909. Gus Poyet scored twice for Chelsea that day – his first after just 27 seconds, from which the Reds never recovered. Bearing in mind that United had become the first English football team to win the treble of League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in May of that year, and had gone 29 league games unbeaten before this match, it was a truly remarkable result. , not only in the context of matches between the two sides, but in the history of football in general.
Manchester United have scored four goals in five league games at Stamford Bridge – the third of which gave them their best margin of victory. There they beat Chelsea 4.0 in a First Division game on 29 November 1947 with Johnny Morris scoring a hat-trick. Morris scored 35 goals in 93 appearances for United in all competitions and helped them win the FA Cup the following year.
One of the most dramatic league meetings – and the highest total (11) – between these clubs at Stamford Bridge took place on 16 October 1954 in front of a crowd of 55,966. Chelsea scored five goals again, with Seamus O’Connell marking his Chelsea debut with a hat-trick (he and George Hilsdon are the only two Chelsea players to score hat-tricks on debut for the club). However, Manchester United hit back with six goals of their own, Denis Violette also scoring a hat-trick and Tommy Taylor with two. Sadly, Taylor would die in the Munich air crash less than four years later.
The highest score in this match was achieved on February 5, 2012 with a match that ended 3.3. Chelsea led 3.0 from the game, but two Wayne Rooney penalties and Javier Hernandez’s equalizer six minutes from time completed United’s comeback.
Another dramatic encounter – albeit with fewer goals – took place later that year: on 28 October 2012 in the Premier League. United won once again, 3.2, but the score only tells us the result, not the story of the match. This time United were two goals up after just twelve minutes, but Chelsea managed to equalize with Juan Mata’s free kick and Ramirez’s header. Chelsea were then reduced to nine after Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres were sent off, before Javier Hernandez (again!) scored a controversial winner (deemed offside by the Blues) fifteen minutes from time. Manchester United would win the league that season, while Chelsea settled for success in the Europa League.
United won by the same margin of 3.2 at Stamford Bridge just over forty-one years earlier on 18 August 1971 with some famous names on the scoresheet: Tommy Baldwin and Peter Osgood for Chelsea; Willie Morgan, Bobby Charlton and Brian Kidd for United. Another huge home crowd of 54,763 came to see these two top teams who have also been so good in Europe in recent seasons – Chelsea in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup that year and Manchester United as the first English team to lift the UEFA European Championship three years earlier .
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