Peter Osgood: 20 defining matches

PETER OSGOOD remains the king of Stamford Bridge. No matter how many big names come and go at Chelsea, “Ossie” is still considered to be the club’s greatest icon. He epitomised an era and was the talisman for a period in which the club’s first FA Cup was won, followed by the European Cup-Winners’ Cup.

When Osgood left in 1974, the heart of Chelsea was ripped out and a wonderful, ultimately underachieving team continued to fall apart. Osgood’s premature death in 2006 shocked many Blues fans who remembered the skill, the elegance and the chutzpah of one of their greatest heroes.

Today, his statue looks over the thousands of supporters who flock to each game and those that remember Osgood touch the feet of their hero. Osgood played 380 times for Chelsea and scored 150 goals. Selecting 20 games that reflect the contribution he made is a very difficult task.

1: December 16 1964 – Football League Cup – Chelsea 2 (Osgood 2) Workington Town 0
Less than 8,000 people saw 17 year-old Osgood make his first team debut for Chelsea against Workington in the last eight of the League Cup. His netted both goals in this replay, the first coming in the 82nd minute. Ossie had already netted around 30 goals in 1964-65 in youth and reserve team football.

2: January 22 1966 – FA Cup – Liverpool 1 (Hunt) Chelsea 2 (Osgood, Tambling)
Chelsea stunned the FA Cup holders at Anfield, coming from a goal down to win 2-1 in the third round. Hunt gave Liverpool a first minute lead, but six minutes later, Osgood headed home after Barry Bridges and George Graham had combined to send the ball into the area. Osgood played in a deep-lying centre forward role which caused Liverpool countless problems and was compared to the great David Jack by BBC TV’s commentator.

3: January 29 1966 – League – Burnley 1 (Angus) Chelsea 2 (Osgood 2)
Ahead of this game, AS Roma had suggested in the media that they would make a bid for Osgood and Blackpool’s Alan Ball. It came to nothing, but highlighted the impact Ossie was having. At Turf Moor, he scored twice, but it was the winner after 54 minutes that made headlines, a run from the halfway line that saw him beat three defenders before shooting past goalkeeper Adam Blacklaw.

4: October 5 1966 – Football League Cup – Blackpool 1 (Robson) Chelsea 1 (Houseman)
Until this game, Osgood looked destined to be capped by England before the end of the 1966-67 season. He had started the season in great form but then on a chilly night at Bloomfield Road, Emlyn Hughes tackled the 19 year-old and his right leg was broken. Ossie signalled for a stretcher, knowing that something bad had happened. “It was no-one’s fault. We were both going for the ball. He got it first and his boot was blocking the ball as I connected,” said Osgood the next day.

5: November 1 1967 – England under-23 – Wales 1 (Thomas) Chelsea 2 (Osgood, Rogers)
Osgood took time to regain his confidence after his broken leg but he finally got his first under-23 cap against Wales at Swansea. He scored, too, latching onto a John Hollins free kick and shooting left-footed into the top corner of the net, giving goalkeeper Mike Walker no chance. Don Rogers got the other goal.

6: December 21 1968 – League – Leicester City 1 (Stringfellow) Chelsea 4 (Osgood 2, Birchenall, Tambling)
In 1968-69, Dave Sexton shifted Osgood into midfield. There were some that believed the broken leg had robbed him of something, but there was no denying his skill. Wearing the unfamiliar number 4 shirt, he showed he had not lost any of his underlying talent, although this was not the Osgood everyone clamoured. His two goals at Leicester suggested he was on the way back to being at his best.

7: November 18 1969 – League – Ipswich Town 1 (Viljoen)  Chelsea 4 (Hutchinson, Osgood 2, Hollins)
Sir Alf Ramsey watched this game at his local club with Osgood one of the players he was checking out. Ossie had confessed in the press that he was desperate to play for England. He netted twice as Chelsea, who were moving into fine form after a slow start to 1969-70, tore Ipswich apart. Meanwhile, the crowd continued to chant “Ossie for England”, a movement that was gathering momentum by the week. Furthermore, Dave Sexton had stumbled across an ideal partner for Osgood in Ian Hutchinson, a short-lived but quite spectacular front-line pairing.

8: December 27 1969 – League – Crystal Palace 1 (Queen) Chelsea 5 (Osgood 4, Hutchinson)
Chelsea and Osgood were in a rich vein of form with Ossie having his most prolific spell as a goalscorer and the team now being considered title contenders. “Chelsea are now a real threat,” said Leeds United’s assistant manager. At Selhurst Park, Osgood ran riot against the Palace defence in the second half after the home team had taken a 17th minute lead. Ossie felt sorry for the Palace team: “By the time the fourth goal went in, I was feeling a bit embarrassed,” he admitted.

9: January 31 1970 – League – Chelsea 3 (Osgood 3) Sunderland 1 (Baker)
Chelsea had been put in their place three weeks earlier when Leeds won 5-2 at Stamford Bridge, although as a team they hadn’t played too badly. They had bounced back well, winning through to the fifth round of the FA Cup and they comfortably disposed of relegation-bound Sunderland. Osgood’s hat-trick helped cement his place in the England squad for the forthcoming game with Belgium. One report said Osgood has been as “swift as a cobra” as he snapped-up a chance.

10: February 25 1970 – International – Belgium 1 (Dockx) England 3 (Ball, Peters 2)
Osgood made his England debut in Brussels against a decent Belgium side that had qualified for the World Cup in Mexico. He was involved in England’s first goal, scored by Alan Ball, and Sir Alf Ramsey was delighted with his overall performance: “Osgood had a great first match for England,” he said. The media noted that Osgood showed an “impressive calm” throughout the 90 minutes.

11: April 29 1970 – FA Cup final replay – Chelsea 2 (Osgood, Webb) Leeds United 1 (Jones)
Although Peter Osgood’s 78th minute diving header from Charlie Cooke’s ball into the area is now part of Chelsea folklore, it shouldn’t be overlooked the part he paid in a very combative contest. Osgood had scored in every round up to the final but wasn’t on the scoresheet at Wembley in the 2-2 classic. At Old Trafford, a bruising battle if ever there was one, he became one of the few players to have found the back of the net in every round. In total, he scored eight goals in the competition, including a hat-trick at Loftus Road as Chelsea beat QPR 4-2 in round six.

12: March 24 1971 – ECWC – Chelsea 4 (Osgood 2, Baldwin, Houseman) Bruges 0
Osgood had a habit of getting booked in the late 60s and early 70s, often for dissent. By modern standards, this wasn’t excessive, but the FA disciplinary committee made an example of him and banned him for what amounted to 10 games. By the time he returned, Chelsea’s season had run out of steam and they were on the brink of elimination in the European Cup-Winners’ Cup after losing 2-0 in the first leg of the quarter-final to Bruges. Osgood was thrown into the second leg and scored twice in an incredible night at Stamford Bridge. It is a game that those who were present have never forgotten. The tie went to extra time and Chelsea added two goals to win 4-0 and go through to meet Manchester City in the semi-finals.

13: May 21 1971 – ECWC Final – Chelsea 2 (Dempsey, Osgood) Real Madrid 1
Osgood was nothing if not a man for the big occasion and in the two games in the Cup-Winners’ Cup final in Athens, he was the man Real Madrid feared. But Ossie had only played four games in four months and was far from full fit. The first game saw Chelsea denied in the final seconds after Osgood has given them the lead after 56 minutes, but in the replay, they went into a 2-0 lead, with Osgood adding to John Dempsey’s opener. Real pulled one back but Chelsea hung on to win the cup.

14: September 29 1971 – ECWC – Chelsea 13 (Osgood 5, Baldwin 3, Hollins, Webb, Houseman, Harris, Hudson) Jeunesse Hautcharage  0
Chelsea won the first leg of this first round tie 5-0 with Ossie scoring a hat-trick against the Luxembourg cup winners. He claimed he would break the individual scoring record over two legs, which stood at the eight netted by Jose Altafini of AC Milan. Against a team of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, Chelsea won 13-0 to beat all aggregate records in European football. Ossie  scored five times, equalling Altafini’s haul.

15: March 4 1972 – Football League Cup final – Chelsea 1 (Osgood) Stoke City 2 (Conroy, Eastham)
Chelsea had been in excellent form leading up to the League Cup final at Wembley. But a week before, they had thrown away a 2-0 lead in the FA Cup at Orient and found themselves victims of a giant-killing. In the final, they fell behind to an early goal, dominated thereafter and equalised through Osgood, who scored his only Wembley goal laying on the lush turf. Stoke won 2-1 but Chelsea were left kicking themselves that they did not win their third trophy in a row. It was arguably the beginning of the end of the club’s most charismatic team.

16: October 9 1972 – Football League Cup – Chelsea 3 (Kember, Webb, Osgood) Derby County 2 (Hinton, McGovern)
In front of Sir Alf Ramsey again, Osgood scored a brilliant volleyed goal to clinch victory in what was a riveting cup tie. There had been calls for Ossie to be included in the England squad once more but when he scored, he ran to the stand and blew kisses in the direction of Ramsey. It is doubtful whether this impressed the reserved England manager. In 1972-73, Osgood played some of his best football for Chelsea, but it would be his last full season for the club.

17: November 10 1973 – League – Chelsea 3 (Baldwin, Osgood 2) Everton 1 (Kenyon)
Again, in 1973-74, the media pressured Sir Alf Ramsey to call on Osgood for the England squad. On November 10, he scored twice to secure his 100th and 101st goals for Chelsea and his performance in the autumn of 1973 certainly suggested that the mature Ossie was worth another stab at an England cap. At the end of the game, he received a personal ovation from the Stamford Bridge crowd.

18: November 14 1973 – International – England 0 Italy 1 (Capello)
Just a month after England were knockout of the World Cup by Poland, England recalled Peter Osgood to lead the line against Italy. It proved to be his last appearance for his country. It was also Bobby Moore’s last cap for England. Italy’s coach, Franco Valcareggi, was quite critical of England, claiming that the only player with any flair was Peter Osgood.

19: May 1 1976 – FA Cup final – Southampton 1 (Stokes) Manchester United 0
In 1974, after a dispute with Chelsea manager Dave Sexton, Ossie was transferred to Southampton for £ 275,000. It was a surprise destination as a number of bigger clubs had shown an interest in him. He always claimed that he was sold on the move because of Lawrie McMenemy and he also linked up well with Mick Channon. However, they were relegated that season and spent four years in the second division. In 1976, the Saints were surprise FA Cup winners and Ossie picked up his second cup winners’ medal.

20: December 18 1978 – Middlesbrough 7 (Burns 4, Proctor, Armstong, Cochrane) Chelsea 2 (Osgood, Bumstead)
With Chelsea struggling for their first division lives, they re-signed Osgood after he had endured an injury-stricken period in the US. While the crowd were overjoyed at their hero’s return, he was not the same player and he was unable to perform a miracle. In his first game, he headed Chelsea in front at Middlesbrough, but by the final whistle, the extent of the club’s problems was made very clear to Osgood as the Blues crashed 7-2 He left the club in September 1979 as they acclimatised to the first of five second division campaigns.

Arsenal’s greatest teams – or are they?

EVEN IN THIS age of “presentism”, it is hard to claim that the current Arsenal team ranks favourably against some of the club’s great teams. With such a glorious history, it is equally difficult to select a handful of teams to determine the Gunners’ greatest. Founded in 1886 in south London, Arsenal had an assortment of identities before they became the capital city’s most successful club. The current team is currently in the longest run without a league title since they won their first trophies – if they fail to win the Premier League in 2022-23, it will be 19 years. Arsenal’s first prize came in 1930 under Herbert Chapman, heralding the start of a golden period for the club. Here’s some of the Gunners’ best, a list that is by no means definitive.

1929-1931: Dan Lewis, Charlie Preddy, Tom Parker, Alf Baker, Eddie Hapgood, Bob John, Bill Seddon, Herbie Roberts, Joe Hulme, Alex James, Jack Lambert, David Jack, Cliff Bastin, Charlie Jones, David Halliday

Manager: Herbert Chapman

Achievements: 1929-30 FA Cup winners; 1930-31 Football League champions.
Five year league record: 9, 14, 1, 2, 1

Key men: Herbie Roberts, the first “stopper” centre half;  Alex James, gifted inside forward renowned for his baggy shorts and his ability to control a game; David Jack, £11,500 inside forward, one of the stars of the 1920s.

Perception: The first London team to win the league, this was Herbert Chapman’s first great Arsenal line-up. Set a record for points won in 1930-31 and scored 127 goals in 42 games.

1932-1935: Frank Moss, George Male, Eddie Hapgood, Bob John, Jack Crayston, Frank Hill, Wilf Copping, Herbie Roberts, Joe Hulme, Jack Lambert, Ted Drake, Tim Coleman, David Jack, Alex James, Ray Bowden, Jimmy Dunne, Ralph Birkett, Charlie Jones, Cliff Bastin, Pat Beasley.

Manager: Herbert Chapman, Joe Shaw (caretaker), George Allison.

Achievement: Football League champions 1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35.
Five-year league record: 1- 2 – 1 -1 – 1

Key men: Eddie Hapgood, an elegant and cool defender, signed from Kettering in 1927, spending 17 years with Arsenal. Won 30 England caps; Ted Drake, powerful and brave centre forward signed from Southampton. Good in the air and possessing a powerful shot, he won five caps for England; Cliff Bastin, goalscoring  winger who joined from Exeter in 1929. Known as “boy Bastin” due to his youthful appearance. 21 England caps.

Perception: A well-drilled, functional set of players schooled in the ways of legendary manager Herbert Chapman. Sometimes accused of over-caution, but their quality was never in doubt.

1950-1953: George Swindin, Jack Kelsey, Laurie Scott, Walley Barnes, Alex Forbes, Leslie Compton, Joe Mercer, Freddie Cox, Jimmy Logie, Peter Goring, Reg Lewis, Dennis Compton, Lionel Smith, Ray Daniel, Cliff Holton, Doug Lishman, Don Roper, Joe Wade, Arthur Milton, Arthur Shaw.

Manager: Tom Whittaker

Achievement: Football League champions 1952-53, runners-up 1951-52; FA Cup runners-up 1951-52.
Five year league record: 5 – 2- 1 – 12 – 9

Key men: Joe Mercer, wing half who was a popular figure in the game, joined from Everton after the second world war at the veteran stage of his career; England international, five caps; Walley Barnes, Welsh full back (22 caps), joined from Southampton in 1943. A versatile player; Alex Forbes, Scottish international wing half who won 14 caps for his country. Went on to become a successful coach.

Perception: An ageing team possessing a strong defence. Frequently called “lucky Arsenal” by the media.

1970-71: Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Bob McNab, Peter Storey, Frank McClintock, Peter Simpson, George Armstrong, George Graham, John Radford, Ray Kennedy, Charlie George, Eddie Kelly.

Achievements: Football League Champions, FA Cup winners. Football League Cup runners-up 1968 and 1969, Inter Cities Fairs Cup winners 1970. FA Cup finalists 1972.
Five-year league record: 4, 12, 1, 5, 2

Key men: Frank McClintock, veteran skipper; George Graham, strolling midfielder who went on to manage the club; Ray Kennedy, powerful striker who linked up well with John Radford and was later converted to midfield by Liverpool; and Charlie George, precocious local lad whose Arsenal career never lived up to the second half of 1970-71.

Manager: Bertie Mee

Perception: Functional, consistent and determined, refusing to give up in the title race with Leeds.

1997-98: David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, Patrick Vieira, Steve Bould, Tony Adams, Ian Wright, Nicolas Anelka, Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmar, Ray Parlou, Emmanuel Petit, Giles Grimandi, David Platt.

Manager: Arsène Wenger.

Achievement: Premier League champions 1997-98; FA Cup winners 1997-98.
Five-year league record: 5 – 3 – 1 – 2 – 2

Key men: Marc Overmars, two-footed winer with pace and tremendous acceleration. Dutch international signed from Ajax, he spent three years with the club before joining Barcelona; Patrick Vieira, Senegalese born midfielder full of power and aggression, joined from AC Milan. 107 caps for France; Dennis Bergkamp, highly-skilled Dutch legend who joined Arsenal from Inter Milan in 1995. Top scorer in the double-winning season of 1998. 79 caps for the Netherlands.

Perception: Emerging power built on Wenger’s innovative methods, some of which changed English football for ever. Wonderful to watch.

2001-2005: Jens Lehmann, David Seaman, Ashley Cole, Lauren, Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Kolo Toure, Oleg Luzhny, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Fredrik Ljungberg, Ray Parlour, Edu, Gilberto Silva, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Sylvain Wiltord, Nwankwo Kanu

Manager: Arsène Wenger

Achievements: 2001-02 Premier League winners, FA Cup winners; 2002-03 FA Cup winners; 2003-04 Premier League champions; 2004-05 FA Cup winners.
Five year league record: 1,2, 1, 2, 4

Key men: Thierry Henry, pace and intricate skill in abundance and a phenomenal goalscorer; Robert Pires, a versatile midfielder/forward who had six good years with the club, rated by fans among the top six players to have represented Arsenal; Sol Campbell, former Tottenham centre half who had a massive physical presence in the Arsenal side.

Perception: Unbeaten in the Premier League 2003-04, the last great side produced by Arsenal and Wenger. Excellent footballing team who earned the tag “invincibles”.