Before the first league meeting between Chelsea and Nottingham Forest since 1999, we bring you a miscellany of facts and stats relevant to the fixture and the City Ground, where the Blues will be stepping out tomorrow.
A whole generation of Chelsea fans have never seen us play Forest in the league. As the other English team to have won the European Cup twice, they are one of the most stories clubs in the country, but it has taken them a good while to regain their place in the top flight, so these little nuggets should help trigger your memory of Chelsea and Forest’s past!
Hat-trick heroes and historic firsts
Jimmy Greaves scored his third and 13th Chelsea hat-tricks against Forest. The later one on April 29, 1961, where he scored four times, was his final match for the Blues, and he was chaired off the field of play.
Chelsea’s first ever sending-off came in a 0-0 draw away to Forest on 5 March 1910. Jimmy Windridge was dismissed for ‘momentary disgrace’ – retaliation against Forest’s George Needham, who was also sent for an early bath. The incident led to both linesmen raising their handkerchiefs (not flags then) and a two-minute discussion between all three officials before their fate was decided. Both were later suspended for 14 days.
Each time a European Cup final has been held in Munich a new name has been inscribed on the trophy: Forest in 1979, Marseille in 1993, Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and Chelsea in 2012.
At the end of the 1976/77 season, Chelsea and Forest were promoted together to the top division (the Blues finishing second and the Reds third). There were contrasting fortunes the following season however with Brian Clough’s side going straight on to be crowned champions. Chelsea lost our promotion-winning manager Eddie McCreadie who resigned before a game had been played. We finished 16th.
The good, the bad and the ugly
In an early season game in 1987/88, the Blues completed a famous comeback victory against a Clough side, recovering from 2-0 and then 3-1 down at Stamford Bridge to triumph 4-3. The winner came from the boot of right-back Steve Clarke.
Chelsea played a pre-season tournament at the City ground in 1996, defeating Forest in the semi-finals on penalties and then beating Louis van Gaal’s Ajax to lift the Umbro Cup thanks to goals from Dennis Wise and Dan Petrescu. The tournament provided an early sighting of summer signings Frank Leboeuf, Roberto Di Matteo and Gianluca Vialli in action.
Chelsea’s best win at Forest came back in 1925, a 5-1 victory with two of the goals scored by crowd-favourite Andy Wilson, a Scotland international who played despite an arm badly injured during the First World War. Blues fans of a certain vintage find it hard to forget our worst result at the City Ground – 7-0 in 1991 when Roy Keane and Stuart Pearce were allowed to score twice each. By margin of victory it is our joint-heaviest league defeat.
A 19-year-old John Terry spent a few weeks on loan at Nottingham Forest during the latter stages of the 1999/00 season, playing six games of which Forest didn’t lose one. It helped Terry’s development, and by the end of the following season he was a Chelsea regular and had been named our Player of the Year for the first time.
Chelsea’s last match at the City Ground was back in February 1999, a 3-1 league win when all the Chelsea goals were scored by Nordic players – one a first league goal from teenage Finnish striker Mikael Forssell and two from Danish winger Bjarne Goldbaek. Ten points from safety, Ron Atkinson, the man brought in to steer the East Midlanders to safety, was asked what the club had to do to stay afloat. ‘Did you ask the captain of the Titanic that?’ he quipped.
Although we haven’t met Forest in the league for almost 24 years, we have hosted – and beaten – them five times in cup competitions since then. Highlights include a rare John Mikel Obi goal, in 2007, Cesc Fabregas’s last game for the club, in 2019, and the special one-off kit we wore in January 2020, commemorating the 50th anniversary of our maiden FA Cup triumph.