With a possible new trophy in the making here it is, a brief guide to my pre-Abramovich Chelsea cup finals. I’m focusing on the pre-Abramovic era as many of the RMB crowd like a story from the good old days when we were shit. Well, it wasn’t all bad, even if there were some low points for us at the Bridge.
1986 – Full Member’s Cup vs Manchester City – Old Wembley.
The first trip to Wembley in my lifetime resulted in a rollercoaster match I saw on Match of the Day (I think). I remember watching the scores come up at my Granddad’s place as it happened on BBC 1’s Saturday sport programme, Grandstand. Pat Nevin, David Speedie and Colin Lee put in great performances to lift the trophy.
1994 – FA Cup Final vs Manchester United – Old Wembley.
Painful, painful day. I had to work at the butchers with my step dad. I had my 1992 (Vinnie Jones) shirt on under my work coat and we listened to it on the radio. I remember my step dad buying me a pint afterwards in consolation. David Elleray didn’t referee particularly well, Mark Hughes scored against the club he loves and we lost 4-0. Worth watching anyway as it was the game that sowed the seeds for our more successful future.
1997 – FA Cup Final vs Middlesbrough- Old Wembley
All change! There were about 10 blues fans at my dad’s house for this one, including me and my younger cousin, Marc. Mark Hughes featured in this match, this time in the blue of Chelsea. Robby di Matteo’s goal after 45 seconds caused me to drop me beer and it was a celebration from that point on. Eddie Newton set his ’94 cup final penalty demons to rest by scoring the second, but this goal remains my second favourite Chelsea goal.
1998 – League Cup vs Middlesbrough – Old Wembley
Not as memorable or as important, but Frank Sinclair made up for his ’94 FA cup final penalty demons and Bobby popped up again to seal it. The only reason it’s not as memorable is because I was on manoeuvers and had to watch it after the fact already knowing the score.
1998 – European Cup Winner’s Cup vs Stuttgart – Rasunda Stadium, Stockholm
I got to watch this one though! I was on my own in the barracks, sitting on my bed watching on my crappy little 14″ tv and I loved every second of it! I was livid that Zola didn’t start but soon changed my mind after he scored after 30 seconds of being subbed on. There was an electric storm over Larkhill that night, loads of lighting the rippled through the clouds, but no rain. I ran around camp after the game screaming my head off, not that anyone was there to hear me!
1998 – European Super Cup vs Real Madrid – Stad Louis II, Monaco
I missed this one as well as I was on my way to Canada to get our regiment operational… the sacrifices I made back then! I saw the goal on my return to England in October and it was worth the wait to see Chelsea beat the white machine called Real Madrid.
2000 – FA Cup – Old Wembley
This was an important one for me as it was the last FA Cup Final to be held at the old Wembley stadium and would you believe I can’t find video of it! Needless to say Cup talisman Bobby di Matteo won us yet another cup with the only goal of the game.
From there on I was sure Claudio Ranieri’s Chelsea would herald success, and that is true in a monetary sense with our Champions League campaigns, but just as I thought Ranieri was going to do it, in came Jose Mourinho and he brought in silverware at the first time of asking, from there it has been nothing short of mind boggling. I watched Chelsea grow from the nearly men to one of the most successful clubs in the modern game. The Europa Cup is a vital match in my mind. It means we will have won every major trophy available to an English side except for the World Club Cup… and that will be ours, oh yes. It will be ours.