As we start our buildup to Saturday's crucial home match against Spurs, it's important to remember that almost exactly twenty years ago, on February 27, 1994, Spurs were only four years into their now 24-year winless streak at Stamford Bridge.
Even though both teams finished in the lower-half of the table that season (14th and 15th, good guys ahead by six points at the end of the 42-match grind), the match still had plenty of cross-London craziness and passion to it. And that's despite the stands (the ones still standing, that is) practically being in the next postcode over. Now, thanks to Sky Sports*, we have a five-minute highlight reel from the days when we averaged less than half of today's attendances in a half-crumbling, half-built stadium. It might just be the most fun football video you watch all day.
* The video does require a UK IP address to view. Other non-USA ones might possibly work, too. There's shorter, goals-only highlight video floating about on YouTube, while here's Chelsea TV's version of events (also via YouTube).
Chelsea found themselves down 2-0 early, Steve Sedgley scoring a rare goal in the 17th (for which he later received a boot to the "groin" as a reward), followed by a header from £1.9m-man Jason Dozzell, whose career would decline sharply after that season, in the 18th minute.
Chelsea's first would also come from an unlikely source, 36-year-old left back Mal Donaghy, in his final professional season, scoring one of just three ever league goals for us. The equalizer came from the man who was in the midst of setting a Premier League record, Mark Stein. The South African scored in seven consecutive matches from December 1993 to February 1994, a record only broken in 2002 by Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Just before the half, Graham's favorite John Spencer lashed home our third, while Glenn Hoddle (Spurs legend and then Chelsea player-manager), wearing what could only be described as a polyester onesie crime against fashion, made sure to keep his hamstrings stretched out in case he decided to call on himself.
The second half didn't let off the crazy pedal too much. Chelsea conceded a penalty via an Erland "next season's player of the year" Johnsen handball with just 20 minutes to go, substitute Andy A. Gray slamming it beyond Dmitri Kharine to draw Spurs level. A few minutes later, Gray had another penalty chance after Kharine took out Ronny Rosenthal who broke the offside trap and was miles clear to bear down on the Chelsea goal. In today's game, Kharine might be sent off twice for that.
On that day, he wasn't and promptly saved from Gray, who decided to put his second penalty kick in exactly the same spot as his first. Kharine may have conceded three but he also made a string of top-class saves, just as he generally would for the next two seasons as well before injuries and Ed de Goey's mustache took their toll. Finally, in the last minute of normal time, just when it looked like that the two sides would settle for the 3-all, Gavin Peacock won a penalty from which Mark Stein made no mistake. 4-3, good guys.
Later that season, Chelsea would make a wonderful run in the FA Cup all the way to the final, only to get spanked 4-0 by League champions Manchester United. Still, the runners-up medal was our way into Europe the following season, where we would reach the semifinals of the Cup Winners' Cup. Victory in that particular competition would have to wait a few more years. Ultimate victory in the Premier League even longer.
A lot has changed in the last 20 years: more money, bigger stars, higher stakes. But one thing's for sure. The love. The love, man. The love is the same. Because Blue is the colour. And football is the game.