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.

Please, let’s have some old fashioned romance in the FA Cup this year

THE THIRD Round of the FA Cup gets underway this weekend, arguably one of the most interesting stages of the competition. It is 150 years since the world’s oldest knockout cup was inaugurated, so the 2022 final is sure to be a special occasion.

The cup was renowned for its romantic tales of bravery, heroic performances and the spirit of the unexpected. That aspect of the competition seems to have been forgotten, giant-killings are hard to come by these days, and it is 42 years since West Ham United became the seventh and most recent second division (now Championship) team to lift the old trophy. The nearest we have got to a cup final upset in recent years must be 2013’s victory by Wigan against Manchester City.

It’s hard enough for teams outside the Premier to get as far as the last eight – in the past five years only three Championship sides (Bournemouth 2021, Swansea and Millwall in 2019), two League One and a non-leaguer (Lincoln) have managed to reach the quarter-finals. 

In the past 10 years, 63 of the 80 quarter-finalists have come from the Premier, 12 from the Championship, four from League One and there’s been a solitary non-league club. If you consider that the 1970s provided more surprises – three second division FA Cup winners – then a comparison with that decade may illustrate how the game has changed. The second tier has certainly provided fewer quarter-finalists, 12 versus the 16 between 1970-71 and 1979-80.

Some critics say the Premier clubs are not terribly interested in the FA Cup, but aside from fielding weakened sides – which are still too strong for most opponents – the facts don’t lie. In the past 10 years, the so-called “big six” clubs have filled 14 of 20 cup final places and since West Ham’s 1980 success, those half dozen clubs have won 83% of finals.

The first second division club to win the FA Cup was Notts County in 1894, who had been relegated from the first division in 1893. They beat Bolton Wanderers 4-1 at Goodison Park and Scottish striker Jimmy Logan netted a hat-trick. The media reported that Notts County had deserved their win as they had played “a better class of game throughout”. Logan was something of a journeyman and in his career played for Sunderland, Ayr, Aston Villa, Dundee, Newcastle and Loughborough as well as Notts County. He was also a tragic figure because two years on from his historic treble, he died of pneumonia after the Loughborough team had to travel home from an away game in soaking wet clothing.

Fourteen years later, Wolverhampton Wanderers beat an all-star Newcastle team 3-1 to win the cup. The Geordies were red hot favourites as they had finished fourth in the league, while Wolves were no more than a mid-table team in division two. But they put on a sparkling display at the Crystal Palace in front of 75,000 people which observers of the game described as “strong, relentless and cool”. Wolves has some good players, notably the Olympian and England amateur Kenneth Hunt, who never drew a salary while playing for the club. Newcastle’s team included Bill McCracken, Colin Veitch and Jock Rutherford, all big names in their day. The Lord Mayor of London, Sir John Bell, at the presentation ceremony, was full of praise for the two teams and declared that “so healthy a game as football must benefit the body and also the mind, and so must help to give the country men fitted to represent the nation in any sphere of life.”

In 1912, little Barnsley pulled off a major shock when they beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the final replay at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. The two teams had previously drawn 0-0 at the Crystal Palace. The Barnsley team contained some lovely old period names, such as Wilf Bartop, who was tragically killed in action four days before the end of World War One, George Lillycrop, Harry Tufnell and George Utley. Tufnell, who started his working life as a greengrocer’s assistant, scored the winning goal in the replay with time running out, going on a solo run from the halfway line. Barnsley’s team also had one Robert Glendenning, who went on to manage the Netherlands national team.

West Bromwich Albion became surprise winners in 1931 with arguably one of the best second division teams of all time. Albion won promotion with a team that was an exciting blend of experience and youth. Their run to the final included ties with all their main promotion rivals, Tottenham, Portsmouth and Everton, and in the final they met local rivals Birmingham, who were in the first division. The Blues had legendary goalkeeper Harry Hibbs and prolific scorer Joe Bradford in their line-up. Albion included popular figures like Tommy Magee (“Wee Tommy” to his friends) and striker W.G. Richardson. Albion won 2-1, with Richardson netting both of his side’s goals. “The victory of West Bromwich Albion was the victory of youthful enthusiasm and confidence,” said The Times after the game, which was played in torrential rain. Once in the first division, Albion’s team acclimatised well and finished high in the table for a few seasons.

It wasn’t until 1973 that another second tier side won the FA Cup, Sunderland beating the great Leeds United side of the period 1-0, managed by Don Revie. Bizarrely, although this proved to be one of the great Wembley shocks, many pundits predicted a Sunderland win, based on their run to the final in which they beat Manchester City and Arsenal. Leeds were a tired side and had been chasing the league title and the European Cup-Winners’ Cup. The game has so many moments that have stood the test of time: Jim Montgomery’s double save, Ian Porterfield’s winning goal and Sunderland manager Bob Stokoe running across the lush Wembley turf, an image that has been immortalised outside Sunderland’s stadium in the form of an eye-catching statue. Sunderland were no slouches, though, and as well as Montgomery, an outstanding keeper who was unlucky not to be capped by England, they also had Dave Watson in defence and the richly-talented Dennis Tueart up front. Leeds finished third in the league and were also beaten in the Cup-Winners’ Cup final, losing to AC Milan.

Three years on, Southampton upset the form book by beating an exciting Manchester United team 1-0. The teams could not have been more contrasting; Southampton had experienced players who had found a home on the South Coast in Peter Rodrigues, Peter Osgood, Jim McCalliog alongside home-grown favourites like Mick Channon in their team. United, on the other hand, were in their first season back from a one-year exile in the second division and had captivated audiences everywhere. Southampton, supposedly, were there to make up the numbers. However, Bobby Stokes scored seven minutes from the end and that was enough to win the cup. Stokes was barely seen again and sadly, died at the age of 44. Southampton were one of the favourites to go up in 1976-77, but they had to wait another year before gaining promotion.

West Ham, in 1980, won the FA Cup with a very decent team. Having been relegated in 1978, manager John Lyall had rebuilt his side and in 1979, added Queens Park Rangers’ Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart from Dundee United and Manchester United’s Stuart Pearson to his squad. West Ham’s cup run included some memorable victories against first division teams West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Everton. They went on to beat cup holders Arsenal who were contesting their third consecutive FA Cup final. Trevor Brooking, described as “a man of dignified composure”, scored the only goal of the game with an untypical crouching header. The most controversial moment of a tame final was when West Ham’s teenage midfielder, Paul Allen broke clear on goal but was callously tripped by Arsenal’s Willie Young. Allen, at 17 and 256 days was making history as the youngest player to appear in the Wembley FA Cup final. A year later, the Hammers won the second division and reclaimed their place in the top flight.

Can a Championship team win the FA Cup in the modern game? On average over the past five years, half of the division’s 24 teams fall at the third round and by the sixth round, there’s scarely a team left. As the statistics confirm, the competition is being dominated by the elite clubs, so it really is time for one of those stories that created the magic of the FA Cup. Bring it on.