Peter Leslie Osgood
The King Of Stamford Bridge
Born 20 February 1947, Windsor, Berkshire
Chelsea FC 1964-1974 / 1978-1979
Having been born in Windsor, it was appropriate that Peter Osgood would go on to become the King Of Stamford Bridge. His Chelsea career began when he signed amateur forms in April 1964, becoming professional five months later. Within a month, manager Tommy Docherty gave the 17 year-old his first team debut in a home League Cup game against Workington. Ossie scored twice, but didn’t play for the first team again until the following season, 1965/66. This came in the Fairs Cup (precursor of the UEFA Cup)1st Round 1st leg match against Roma at the Bridge, a 4-1 victory in which Terry Venables scored a hat-trick and Eddie McCreadie got sent off.
His league debut came three days later in the home match against Newcastle, but he had to wait until the 2-1 win at Sheffield United in October before he scored his first league goal for the club. Barry Bridges, an England international, was the recognised striker at Chelsea, but Tommy Docherty seemed keen to replace him with Osgood. Ossie went on to play in 31 league games that season, scoring seven goals – he also played 16 cup matches including European games (4 goals). When looking at those stats you’ve got to remember that he was still only 18 for most of the season. Ossie was 6ft.2ins tall, strong yet graceful, was two-footed and also great in the air. He could take on defenders and dribble past them with ease, plus he could play as an old fashioned centre-forward.
1966/67 was a season that young Ossie must have been looking forward to, the future was looking very promising. The season started well for him, he scored six goals in ten league games, but then things took a dramatic turn. In an October League Cup tie in Blackpool, Ossie had his leg broken by the scumbag Emlyn Hughes - as he was taken off in agony on the stretcher, Hughes mocked him. Ossie’s season was over, and Docherty signed Tony Hateley to replace him – a panic buy if ever there was one. Chelsea finished 9th. that season, though they managed to reach the FA Cup Final – it goes without saying that we’d have done a lot better if Osgood had been fit all season.
Ossie recovered by the summer, and was straight back in the first team by the opening game of 1967/68. I saw him score a magnificent goal against Southampton in September, collecting the ball on the edge of his own area, dribbling through almost the entire Saints side and then slotting the ball home. Unfortunately though, we lost 2-6 that day! Ossie played in all 42 league games that season, finishing as top scorer with 16 goals – Chelsea finished 6th. in the season that Tommy Docherty left the club, and Dave Sexton arrived.
1968/69 was a quiet one for Osgood, as Bobby Tambling, Tommy Baldwin and Alan Birchenall were our top scorers. Ian Hutchinson made his first appearance for Chelsea that season too, so we certainly weren’t short of strikers!
1969/70 was a special season for all Chelsea fans, as we won the FA Cup for the first time and Peter Osgood scored in every round of the competition including a superb diving header in the Final replay at Old Trafford.
We finished 3rd. in the league as well, with Ossie scoring 23 goals (plus 8 cup goals). These included a superb four goal performance at Crystal Palace in a 5-1 victory, and another hat-trick in the cup quarter-final at QPR.
The following season brought more glory, as we went to Athens and won the European Cup Winners’ Cup Final against Real Madrid after a replay – and Ossie scored in both games. Other than that, it was a pretty quiet season for him, and it included an eight week ban in January and February.
He had a better season in 1971/72, scoring 18 league goals and 13 in the cup. Having said that, eight of those cup goals were in the two legs against Jeunesse Hautcharage in the Cup Winners Cup, a tie we won 21-0 on aggregate, a record which I think still stands. Ossie also managed to score at Wembley while on the ground, in the League Cup Final defeat against Stoke City.
Osgood had become a hell of a character over the last few years, and was always getting into Dave Sexton’s bad books by breaking the rules. He loved partying and enjoyed a drink, along with a few others in the side, Alan Hudson, Ian Hutchinson, Charlie Cooke and Tommy Baldwin to name but a few. Sexton was a great football coach, but he had no idea when it came to man-management, and this resulted in a lot of friction within the dressing room. Things were drawing to a head.
1972/73 was a poor season by Chelsea’s recent standards. We finished 12th. in the league, which had a lot to do with Sexton’s management. He dropped players, not because of their form, but because he’d fallen out with them, and his new signings weren’t exactly setting the world alight. A lot of players were unhappy at this time, not least Peter Osgood.
In January 1974 Dave Sexton sold one of our best players, Alan Hudson, to Stoke City. Ossie followed him out of the door two months later, signing for Southampton. Rumour had it that Derby County had wanted Ossie, but he refused to move up north – good man! He did well at Southampton, playing 153 games for them and winning another FA Cup winners medal. He then had a loan spell at Norwich before going out to play in the NASL for Philadelphia Fury.
A year later Ossie returned to Stamford Bridge once more – Sexton had gone, thank God, but Danny Blanchflower was now in charge – Christ we had some bad luck with managers back in those days! Sadly it was too late for Ossie, he was at the end of his playing career and only managed to play ten more games for Chelsea.
Appallingly, Ossie only represented England four times thanks to Alf Ramsey’s hatred of flair players – or maybe he just disapproved of Ossie’s playboy lifestyle. It was a disgrace that the likes of Francis Lee and Martin Chivers kept Ossie out of the national side, and I for one never forgave Ramsey for that.
Sadly, Ossie died on 1 March 2006 following a heart attack, aged just 59.
Peter Osgood was a fans favourite at Chelsea almost from the word go. As a teenager he’d shown the Chelsea faithful just what he was capable of, and we loved him for it. He was one of the most talented players ever to pull on the blue jersey. His ball control and passing were superb, and he created many goals for his colleagues as well as scoring regularly himself. I’ve been watching Chelsea for about 45 years, and Peter Osgood is still far and away my favourite ever player.
Chelsea appearances (1964-1974) – 279 (103 goals)
Chelsea appearances (1978-1979) – 10 (2 goals)
Those stats don’t do the man justice, he was a magical player to watch and is a true Chelsea legend – the King Of Stamford Bridge!