72 Classic: Lifting Leeds

AFTER winning the 1969 Football League Championship, Leeds United pursued every trophy possible in the only way they knew how – with intensity, with total focus and with little regard for how the rest of football saw them. They were supremely “professional”, using every trick in the book to gain an advantage over their rivals. Some considered them a “dirty” team, sly in their approach and capable of employing underhand tactics that were more frequently seen in continental teams. It was true that the likes of Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles were hard players, but they were also gifted individuals.

Leeds’ lack of popularity may also have owed much to the fact they were “Johnny come latelies”, a club that had enjoyed very little in the way of success before arriving in the first division in 1964. Football rarely welcomes teams that challenge the status quo and Leeds, a young side built by Don Revie, were just that, and they upset the established leaders of the English game. Along with Tommy Docherty’s Chelsea, they represented a new order that was confronting the likes of Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United.

Leeds’ title win in 1969 was notable because they won more points than they scored goals – 67 points, 66 goals. They won 27 of their 42 games and lost twice, conceding just 26 goals. They epitomised an era that had drawn influence from clubs like Inter and AC Milan of Italy and also England’s 1966 World Cup winners. Revie based his team on an iron-clad defence, which didn’t win many friends, but it was ruthlessly effective.

For the next season, Leeds changed their approach, as evidenced by the signing of the coveted Allan Clarke, for whom Revie paid £ 165,000 to Leicester City. Clarke had been instrumental in Leicester reaching the FA Cup final, but his team was also relegated to the second division. He was not going to hang around long at Filbert Street.

Accompanying this bold acquisition, Leeds adopted a passing style that hinted at the so-called “Total Football” movement being championed by the Dutch, and provided a more entertaining style. Leeds went into the European Cup and reached the semi-final where they would face Celtic. At the same time, they fought their way to the FA Cup final. Everton had proved too strong for Leeds in the championship, but fixture congestion did little to help Revie’s side. They scored 84 goals in 42 games, but finished nine points behind Everton. Between April 1 and 29, Leeds played eight games and won just one, losing twice to Celtic and finally capitulating to Chelsea in the FA Cup final replay. Leeds, after initially chasing a treble, ended with nothing. It was heartbreaking for a team that had given everything, but fighting on multiple fronts arguably needed a squad with greater strength in depth. Revie knew this and started fielding weakened teams in the league as he threw the towel in, a strategy that earned the club a fine from the Football League and aggravated the relationship between Revie and league secretary Alan Hardaker.

Leeds remained totally focused in 1970-71 and fought-out a title race with Arsenal. But every setback seemed to be amplified and enjoyed by Leeds’ opponents. In the FA Cup, they were surprisingly and dramatically beaten by Colchester United of the fourth division and then in mid-April, they were victims of a dreadful refereeing decision by Ray Tinkler, which allowed West Bromwich Albion to win 2-1 at Elland Road. The incident resulted in a pitch invasion, for which the club was punished at the start of 1971-72. Despite beating Arsenal in the penultimate game of the season, Leeds were denied the title by a single point. The Inter-Cities Fairs’ Cup was won, but it was scant consolation for a team that, for two seasons, had deserved far more.

The question was, how would Revie and his backroom team lift a team that must have felt the whole world was against them? This was, after all, the 1970s, when men were men and emotions were never discussed. The psychological damage done by two seasons of near misses was considerable, but few would ever admit it. Revie would argue that in order to fail, you had to be involved in the latter stages of a competition and that’s all his team could do – keep fighting, keep trying and keep together. And nobody could ever deny that Leeds United were a tight unit. Team spirit was never a problem and that was down to Revie and his all-consuming approach to building a club. His players loved him and the affection was mutual. They were his lads, hence when he departed in 1974, many found it difficult to function.

Leeds had to play their opening home games away from Elland Road, the punishment for the crowd trouble against West Bromwich in April 1971. This undoubtedly affected their early season form, but they were not the only club who had been forced to play away from their home ground – Manchester United had to play their first two home games at Liverpool and Stoke after knives were thrown at fans in the away section at Old Trafford during the 1970-71 season.

While United picked-up maximum points from their travels, Leeds stuttered a bit in the early weeks of the campaign, winning one of their first four and drawing two of their “home” fixtures at Huddersfield and Hull. They were also beaten 3-0 by newly promoted Sheffield United, after which the local media asked the inevitable questions about the decline of Revie’s little changed side. “Are they growing old?”, asked one scribe, pointing out that both Jack Charlton and Johnny Giles were getting long in the tooth. Just before the season kicked-off, other segments of the press had also cast doubts about Leeds’ ability to win the title – Goalmagazine, for example, predicted Tottenham to win the championship and added that the 1971-72 season might be the final throes of Leeds’ current team.

Certainly, the enforced exile meant it was hard for Leeds to set the early pace. That role went to Sheffield United, who were inspired by players like the head-banded Trevor Hockey, future England star Tony Currie, Stewart Scullion and Alan Woodward. Nobody really expected the Blades to make such an impact in those early weeks, but their results were no fluke. Unbeaten in their first 10 games, they had played four of the top six of 1970-71 and beaten both Arsenal and Leeds United. They were three points clear at the top of the table, with Manchester United breathing down their neck.

It was something of an “Indian Summer” for two of United’s star names, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, while George Best, still in his prime, had netted seven goals in 10 games. In fact, between them, United’s holy trinity had scored 15 goals in the league already. After three fairly miserable seasons, United fans were hoping that under Frank O’Farrell they were on the march again.

Talk of a title challenge were a little premature, however, and far more solid teams were waiting to pounce. United ended Sheffield United’s unbeaten start to the campaign with a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford on October 2, with Best in irresistible form. Apart from a home defeat at the hands of Leeds, United established the momentum to top the table and at the turn of the year, they were three points ahead of neighbours Manchester City.

Sheffield United’s early season effervescence had started to go a little flat, although they did beat Ipswich Town 7-0 at the end of November. If nothing else, Sheffield United’s first half of the season provided the cushion they needed to ensure survival in the first division. When 1971 became 1972, the Blades were still in fourth place, ahead of more celebrated teams like Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool, the latter showing signs of rejuvenation thanks to the arrival of the relatively unknown Kevin Keegan.

Arsenal had started the season well against an out-of-sorts Chelsea, but the tough underbelly had somehow been pierced, possibly because their ultra-efficient coach Don Howe had departed for West Bromwich. In 1970-71, Arsenal had lost just six games and were unbeaten at their Highbury home. In the first half of 1971-72, they had already been beaten eight times, including home setbacks against Sheffield United, Stoke City and Manchester City. Arsenal, perhaps due to the gargantuan efforts made in winning the “double”, were showing signs of burn-out and needed fresh impetus.

Tottenham and Chelsea had also started to look a little stale, although Spurs had signed Ralph Coates from Burnley and had focused their efforts on the UEFA Cup. Chelsea, who started the campaign poorly and even placed their talismanic striker Peter Osgood on the transfer list (a game of bluff if ever there was one), had cheaply relinquished the European Cup-Winners’ Cup they had won so impressively in 1971 and had signed Chris Garland and Steve Kember from Bristol City and Crystal Palace respectively. Neither side could be considered title contenders, but their reputations as cup-fighting teams were still intact for now.

Leeds, meanwhile, had regained their mojo and were next in line, increasingly playing an exciting, more expansive brand of football. There were still occasions, such as in a bruising encounter with old foes Chelsea in London, where they would take no prisoners.

Aware that some of his squad were not as nimble as they once were, Revie tried to add some younger talent and a midfielder in the mould of Blackpool’s Tony Green was on his shopping list. Other players, such as Nottingham Forest’s Ian [Storey) Moore and Burnley’s Steve Kindon were also linked with Leeds. After two years of disapapointment, Leeds needed to bolster their squad, especially after losing one of their key back-up men in Terry Hibbitt, who had decided that he was no longer prepared to live off scraps from the top table. Hibbitt, a skilful player, moved to Newcastle United. Other players, such as goalkeeper David Harvey and England full back Paul Reaney, had also expressed a desire to leave, but both were persuaded to stay at the club.

Revie opted for West Bromwich Albion’s 21 year-old Scottish midfielder Asa Hartford. This took some people by surprise and Revie and his colleagues kept the target a closely-guarded secret, securing the deal in a quiet, out-of-the-way café. The fee was £ 170,000 and it was all settled subject to a medical. And that was where the deal fell apart after it was discovered that Hartford had a hole in his heart. He went back to the Midlands and resumed his career, the condition did not prevent the diminutive Hartford from enjoying a full career at club and international level. Arguably, Leeds made a big mistake in letting him go so easily, but medical knowledge in 1971 was not as advanced as it is today. There were echoes of the aborted attempt to sign Alan Ball a few years earlier when Revie could not get approval from the Elland Road suits. Revie later warned the Leeds public that his team needed rebuilding and tried to manage expectation. He spoke of a possible lean period as the club sought-out three or four world-class players in their early 20s. Revie’s words were quite prophetic, for once the current Leeds squad started to drift away, the club entered an era of steep decline rather than a hiatus.

Leeds in 1971-72, though, were clicking into form, even though their UEFA Cup campaign had ended early in a dramatic collapse at home against Belgium’s Lierse SK and their Football League Cup run was curtailed by West Ham United. It was clear that in 1971-72 they were concentrating their efforts on the league title and the FA Cup.

Leeds ended 1971 by beating Derby County 3-0 at Elland Road. The fans were chanting “Champions, Champions”. The eventual title winners were on the pitch that afternoon, but sadly for Revie’s team, it was not Leeds United – it was Brian Clough’s Derby, who were challenging the old order as much as Leeds had a few years earlier. When the two teams met later in the season, the situation would be very different.

Photos: PA

Coming soon: Enter the little big man

The Non-League 100: Leatherhead 1974-75 – “The Lip” and Leicester

TO THE outside world, Leatherhead’s FA Cup run of 1974/75 might have looked like an ‘overnight success’. Indeed, the club had never previously reached the first round proper of the competition, much less the heights of the fourth round and the “Leicester game”. In our latest Guest Slot, Kevin Parrott recalls one of the mid-1970s great stories from non-league football.

Leatherhead’s run wasn’t a case of ‘overnight success’ at all! Events and developments played their part in Leatherhead’s rise. In 1972-73, the Isthmian League expanded and Leatherhead moved over to the Isthmian from the Athenian League. The Athenian League was a good standard of football, but the Isthmian had some long-standing major amateur clubs of the South – such as Wycombe Wanderers, Sutton United, Hitchin Town and Dulwich Hamlet. It was a higher standard of football – and a different world. It felt like a ‘closed society’ – in which, for example, you couldn’t enter a boardroom unless you were wearing a tie.

Leatherhead (“the Tanners”) came third in that first season in the Isthmian League. Manager Billy Miller had, with hindsight, already assembled several of the ‘Leicester’ team.  Chief amongst them, in terms of later fame, was Chris (“the Leatherhead Lip”) Kelly who had been signed from Sutton. His partner up front, Pete “the Meat” Lavers was in place. The defender and midfielder John Cooper had arrived from Fulham. Dave Reid was at centre half. Another stalwart, Barry Webb had first played for the club in 1964-65. Derek Wells was already a regular.

1973-74 and another member of the ‘Leicester’ team arrived – Peter McGillicuddy.  Leatherhead had a run in the last FA Amateur Cup. The Tanners reached the semi-finals against Ilford at Millwall – only to suffer the heartbreak of a 1-0 loss. The biggest development came in the summer of 1974. This was the abolition of the ‘amateur’ status by the Football Association. Apart from the semi-professional Southern League, all non-league footballers were ‘amateur’ – able to play for expenses only. There was rumour that some clubs were paying ‘under the counter’ – so-called ‘shamateurism’.  From 1974, players could legitimately be paid.

For the chairman of Leatherhead, Chris Luff (a local garage owner) and Billy Miller, this represented an opportunity. The previous season, Walton & Hersham of the Isthmian League had completed a great FA Cup run. Famously, they had gone to the Brighton of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor and won 4-0 in a replay after a 0-0 draw at Stompond Lane. This went against the received wisdom that non-league clubs have their best chance of beating League opposition at home and are unlikely to survive an away replay.

In the summer, Walton lost manager Allen Batsford to Wimbledon of the Southern League and he took with him some players – Dave “Harry” Bassett, Dave Donaldson, Billy Edwards, Keiron Somers and Roger Connell.  And Miller pounced and signed Willie Smith, Dave Sargent and Colin Woffinden from the club.

In addition, the Tanners brought in John Swannell, Hendon’s 35 year-old England Amateur international goalkeeper, and John Doyle from Kingstonian. Concerns about whether the team would gel were quickly allayed as Leatherhead started the season well – with eight wins and two draws in their first 10 Isthmian League first division (the word ‘Premier’ wasn’t yet in vogue) games. The results were good – and the style and panache of the team made them joy to watch.

The fabled FA Cup run started with a 2-0 (Lavers, Kelly) first qualifying round win at Croydon Amateurs (Croydon nobly retaining the second half of their name). In the second qualifying round, Leatherhead beat Hornchurch 5-0 at Fetcham Grove (Lavers 2, Cooper, Doyle, Webb – pen). The third qualifying round proved more problematic – Leatherhead hosted Dagenham and the game ended goalless. But the Tanners went to Victoria Road and won 3-1 (Kelly 2, Doyle). There was irony in the fourth qualifying round as Leatherhead were drawn at Walton & Hersham – and no mercy was shown as the Tanners won 7-1 (Sargent 2, McGillicuddy 2, Lavers, Doyle, Woffinden).

Leatherhead’s John Doyle and his mother Bridie, who helped him clean his boots after he hit the goal that gave Leatherhead a shock FA Cup win over Colchester.

An away tie at Bishops Stortford in the first round proper was the less than ideal reward – but Leatherhead went there and came away with a 0-0 draw. The replay would see the winners play Colchester United at home in the second round. The Tanners won 2-0 (Lavers, Doyle) to set up one of the biggest games in the club’s history (to that point).

The opening line of my diary entry for December 14 1974 reads “The day in a million”. Leatherhead beat Colchester United (managed by Jim Smith) of the Third Division 1-0 with a John Doyle goal in the 20th minute!  It was a brilliant performance. And it was without Kelly – who was recovering from a cartilage operation. The third round draw was made that night on Match of the Day – Brighton away. My diary’s verdict on the draw? “A little disappointing but could have been worse”.

Leatherhead’s win at Brighton (managed by Peter Taylor) was remarkable. “Players tackled, covered, harried like demons” and the game was won by the returning Kelly’s brilliant individual goal. “I can remember few better days”. The fourth round draw was made while we waited outside the ground for our coaches – Leicester City of the First Division at home! That night, Kelly was in the MOTD studio – “mouthing”.

The tie was switched to Filbert Street. A dramatic game saw the Tanners go 2-0 (McGillicuddy, Kelly) up at half-time and the ‘what if’ of Kelly’s shot that was cleared by Malcolm Munro to deny a 3-0 lead. Leicester (managed by Jimmy Bloomfield) came back and won 3-2 (Earle, Sammels, Weller). Let’s leave further description to my diary…”Team were magnificent in the  firstt half. As good as Leicester”…”Will never forget the feeling when we were two goals up. Out of this world”… and at the end of the day…“Went to sleep, very happy and sad”.

The FA Cup run was over. But the season was not. Kelly left for Millwall (returning for the following season) thus weakening the Leatherhead team. The Tanners reached the London Senior Cup Final at Dulwich – losing 2-0 to a powerful, no nonsense, Wimbledon. And also the Surrey Senior Cup Final at Walton & Hersham – losing 2-0 to Dulwich Hamlet. In the Isthmian League, Leatherhead finished in sixth place – disappointing after such a good start. Weight of fixtures did not help. All told, the Tanners played 68 games that season – 42 in the league and a mammoth 26 in the various cups. When the history of Leatherhead Football Club is written, it will be the 1974-75 FA Cup run that will feature highly. Beating two Football League clubs and pushing a First Division side to the limit – and the way they did it – will live long in the memory!

Leatherhead’s FA Cup heroes

John Swannell – goalkeeper. Debut 1974. Capped 61 times at England Amateur level, Swannell was a great shot stopper and a calm presence between the sticks. Dave Reid – centre half. Debut 1970. Son of Portsmouth’s Duggie Reid (twice a First Division winner). Dominant in the air, Reid played a record 523 times for Leatherhead. Barry Webb – full back, midfield. Debut 1965. A player you could trust. Unflappable, he took the penalties and was usually at full back . Derek Wells – defender. Debut 1971. A utility player, primarily in the back four. Left-footed, a consistent performer – Wells was popular. He loved playing football.  Dave Sargent – right back. Debut 1974. A fearsome, highly competent performer – his ‘will to win’ almost tangible.  Colin Woffinden – midfield. Debut 1974. A clinical passer of the ball – and a bluff and cheery presence off the pitch.  John Cooper – midfield, defender. Debut 1970. Previously with Fulham, the versatile Cooper could play right side midfield or in the ‘back four’.  Tremendous servant. Willie Smith – midfield. Debut 1974. Lovely left foot – highly skilled. I remember a goal at Southall  & Ealing Borough in ‘76 where Smith audaciously chipped from distance after a corner – the defender on the line was caught by surprise and could only head into his own net. Peter McGillicuddy – midfield. Debut 1973. Left-footed, attacking midfielder. Affable, popular. Pete Lavers – centre forward.  Debut 1970. A superb header of the ball. I particularly recall a goal at the cavernous Champion Hill of Dulwich Hamlet in 1974 when Cooper took on a pass down the line from Sargent and centred for Lavers to rise and arrow a header under the bar. Chris Kelly – forward.  Debut 1972. Kelly was useful at Sutton but blossomed at Leatherhead. Highly skilled – it was hard to tell whether he was left or right footed – Kelly (also nicknamed “Budgie” or “Budge”) benefitted from being in an environment where he was central to the team. The “Kelly shuffle” became well-known during the FA Cup run. He was particularly good at taking the ball to the touchline with his back to the defender, turning around, squaring the player up and then beating him for skill and he was away. Leatherhead’s best player ever (yes, yes – it’s an opinion!). John Doyle – winger. Debut 1974. Low centre of gravity – a darting runner with the ball – scorer of vital goals. Corner routines centred around Doyle – he would run to the near post and head the ball on for colleagues to come in and score. Billy Miller – manager. A former Leatherhead player, he was manager from 1965 to 1980. The players in the FA Cup run have been lauded to the skies – but Miller’s role in the run should not be underestimated. Miller (and his assistants Dave Wall and John Phipps and physio John Deary) had this team playing well from the off – no mean feat. There were strong personalities in the team – but Miller was definitely in charge. Early in the ‘Leicester’ season, Leatherhead beat Slough Town 4-0 (4-0 at half-time) at home. I happened to be walking past the changing rooms after the game. I could hear one voice – that of Billy Miller – laying into the team in unambiguous and emphatic terms. He was not happy with the second half performance! Yes, Miller was in charge.

 

Sources: Leatherhead FC – Complete Competitive Playing Record, 1946 – 2006 by Dave Johnston and Graham Mitchell; ‘Up The Tanners’ – From The Past To The Present And Looking To The Future by Goff Powell, 1997; Rothmans Football Yearbook 1975/76 compiled by Leslie Vernon and Jack Rollin.

 

 

 

Chelsea’s Osgood and Hutchinson – short-lived but sensational

CHELSEA fans will never forget Peter Osgood and Ian Hutchinson, they were, after all, two of the key figures in the club’s unforgettable 1969-70 FA Cup triumph.

These two players helped define an era, a swaggering Chelsea team that was fashionable, exciting, hard as nails at times and confident to the point of arrogance. But it is not always appreciated that their time together – their partnership – was very limited and was disrupted by injuries, suspensions, internal strife and, ultimately, by the break-up of Chelsea’s early-1970s team.

In short, the symbiotic relationship between the players was confined to that one season, 1969-70, a campaign that saw them score 53 goals between them. They would never go remotely near that total again as a partnership, largely because “Hutch” sadly, endured years of sidelining injuries.

Manchester United’s Nobby Stiles is helpless as Ian Hutchinson scores with a diving “header”. Photo: PA

Osgood was an established Chelsea player when Hutchinson arrived at the club from Cambridge United in July 1968. But “Ossie” was struggling to regain his “chutzpah” after the broken leg sustained in October 1966 against Blackpool in the Football League Cup. He was in excellent form at the start of 1966-67, but when he returned from his injury, he was heavier and seemed to lack something. In 1968-69, Chelsea manager Dave Sexton experimented by playing Osgood in midfield and although he still managed to score 13 goals, there was a sense that the club’s star man was not the same player. “Osgood was good, now he’s no good,” was the song often heard from opposition fans.

Hutchinson, who arrived at Stamford Bridge as a raw, gangling youngster, was blooded by Sexton in October 1968 in a Football League Cup tie at Derby. Chelsea were well beaten that night by Brian Clough’s emerging team and Hutchinson got little chance to shine. As the 1968-69 season began its home run, Hutchinson was introduced to regular first team action, scoring his first goal at West Bromwich Albion on March 1 as Chelsea won 3-0. He scored six goals in 11 games to stake a claim to lead the forward line. At that time, it seemed likely he would partner Alan Birchenall or Tommy Baldwin rather than Osgood, who was playing in an unfamiliar number six shirt. And of course, there was Bobby Tambling to consider.

Photo: PA

When Chelsea kicked-off the 1969-70 season, Hutchinson was in the side, but Osgood was still being employed deeper, wearing the number four shirt. In fact, after Chelsea lost their first two games, Osgood was relegated to the substitute’s bench. He returned to the team and scored twice at Southampton in a 2-2 draw – but if Hutchinson, who had broken his nose against West Ham a couple of days earlier, had been fit, “Ossie” might not have started.

It was not until November 8 that the familiar Osgood and Hutchinson – shirts 9 and 10 – really lined-up, a 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday. On a foul afternoon at Hillsborough, “Hutch” scored twice and Osgood once. The partnership was launched.

A couple of games later, Chelsea won emphatically at Ipswich Town, with Hutchinson and Osgood (2) on the scoresheet in a 4-1 victory. “Osgood for England,” was the chant as Sir Alf Ramsey watched from the stand. Another away win, at Manchester United, saw Hutchinson score both goals in a 2-0 success and suddenly, people were talking about the former non-league striker as a candidate for international honours.

What was so special about the 21 year-old? He was good in the air, brave, awkward to deal with on the ground and he had a long throw-in that added an extra dimension to Chelsea’s attack. He could also look after himself, and to some extent he was the catalyst for Osgood to find his mojo again.

The pinnacle

Osgood was the main focus in terms of making the World Cup squad, but he had still to win his first England cap. When he scored four against Crystal Palace on December 27, his claim for recognition from Ramsey grew.

As Chelsea continued their impressive form, Osgood won his first cap, on February 25, 1970 against Belgium in Brussels, just four days after scoring a hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers to send Chelsea into the last four of the FA Cup.

There had been an air of destiny about Chelsea’s FA Cup run and both Osgood and Hutchinson were key figures as the Blues scored 21 goals on the way to Wembley.

Hutchinson scored Chelsea’s 86th minute equaliser in the first meeting with Leeds, boldly flinging himself at a free-kick and heading past Gary Sprake. In the replay, he was deeply involved in the combat as both teams fought aggressively for control.

Osgood, who had scored in every previous round of the competition, headed Chelsea level at Old Trafford and then in extra time, a “Hutchinson hurl” created the winning goal for David Webb. It is fair to say that without the goals of Osgood and Hutchinson (13 in total), Chelsea would not have won the FA Cup in 1970.

The 1970-71 season started slowly for “Ossie”, possibly a hangover from Mexico 1970. Chelsea had added Keith Weller to an already decent squad and the new man got off to a respectable start at Stamford Bridge. Hutchinson gave Chelsea an opening day win against Derby with two headed goals and also netted the club’s first in the European Cup-Winners’ Cup. He was also capped at England under-23 level. But problems were around the corner. Hutchinson injured his knee at Southampton in February in a 0-0 draw and in effect, this signalled the end of his career. It was certainly the end of his 1970-71 season.

To make matters worse, Osgood was serving a long suspension that forced him to miss 10 games. He returned for the second leg of the Cup-Winners’ Cup quarter-final, a legendary 4-0 win, but there was no Hutchinson to play alongside. Chelsea won the competition in Greece, beating Real Madrid and there were hopes that Hutchinson would be fit for the following campaign.

Decline

Osgood had another lack lustre start to 1971-72 and found himself on the transfer list after the first two games, both of which were lost. On the night Chelsea lost their opening home game, against Manchester United, Hutchinson suffered a major blow to his recovery when he broke his shin in two places in a reserve game at Swindon.

Osgood scored prolifically in 1971-72 and there was never any chance he was going to leave the club at this point. Chelsea were close to adding a third successive trophy but lost to Stoke in the Football League Cup final. It was not until December 1972 that “Hutch” returned to action, scoring twice in his comeback match against Norwich City. He had been out for 21 months.

Photo: PA

But in that period, Chelsea had declined and relationships within the camp were strained. In 1973-74, it all came to a head, resulting in the infamous “Osgood and Hudson affair”. By the end of the season, Chelsea had lost their star assets and the team looked a shadow of its former self. A lot depended on players like Hutchinson, but the injuries had taken their toll.

With Chelsea’s relegation and emphasis on youth, “Hutch” became one of the more experienced players in the camp for 1975-76, but on January 31, 1976, he played his last competitive game for the club. It was against West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge and “Hutch” had a goal ruled out with five minutes remaining. Chelsea lost 2-1 and within days, they had lost their brave, determined forward, who succumbed to a lengthy injury list. Less than six years after winning the FA Cup, Chelsea were immersed in second division mediocrity and Osgood and Hutchinson were gone.

Anyone who saw this partnership in its prime will know that Osgood and Hutchinson were a formidable force and if they had stayed together longer, Chelsea may have been more successful in the early 1970s. But their time was all too brief – Hutchinson died in 2002 aged 54 and Osgood passed away in 2006 at the age of 59. They really were brothers in arms.