Video of the Day: Chelsea vs Manchester United, March 1969
Regardless of the relative performances of the two teams elsewhere this season, there’s still an element of event to this afternoon’s match between Chelsea and Manchester United, at Stamford Bridge. These are two of the small handful of clubs to have dominated the Premier League for the entirety of is existence, and their rivalries do go much further back than the invention of Modern Football in 1992. And there are lessons to be learnt from the past, lessons which have been half-forgotten in the mists of time, or repeated as some kind of apparent tribute to Einstein’s line about the definition of insanity.
In March 1969, the first signs were likely hitting supporters of Manchester United that something was afoot at their club. The end of the 1966/67 season ended with the Football League Championship returning to Old Trafford, and the following season ended under the floodlights of Wembley with Busby’s greatest night bringing the European Cup to English shores for the first time. In January of 1969, Matt Busby – the man who had almost been killed by, and then nursed the club through the aftermath of, Munich – announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season.
United travelled to Stamford Bridge having won just one of their previous eleven matches in the league and having been knocked out of the FA Cup a fortnight earlier, at home by Everton. The team was still in the European Cup, having just beaten Rapid Vienna, but faced a daunting challenge in the semi-finals against Milan. In the league, the team went into the match in seventeenth place in the table, six points above the relegation places, with twelve matches to play. Not in immediate trouble, but certainly with one eye looking over their shoulder. Chelsea, meanwhile, went into the match in fifth place in the table, and a crowd of over 60,000 people turned out to watch at Stamford Bridge. Commentary comes from Kenneth Wolstenholme.
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