It has been quite a while since we last saw Chelsea playing in yellow so I am sure that many supporters, especially the long-term ones, were genuinely delighted when the new away kit for the 2014/15 season was revealed last week.
— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) May 21, 2014
Because while Blue is the Colour (and will always be) as far as Chelsea Football Club is concerned, yellow has also played a pretty important part in our history.
Many of you may vividly remember the last time that the team wore a yellow kit in a competitive match on May 30, 2009 when Chelsea met Everton in the FA Cup final.
As the Toffees won a toss to decide which team would wear blue for the match, we had to wear our change kit. And while black had been our regular away colour that season, Guus Hiddink’s side emerged at Wembley dressed in a bright all-yellow outfit that seemed to befit the sunny conditions on a glorious late spring afternoon.
It didn’t start all that well as Louis Saha gave Everton took the lead just seconds after the opening whistle but Didier Drogba levelled with a trademark bullet header before Frank Lampard produced a moment of magic in the 72nd minute that will linger long in our memories.
Receiving the ball from Nicolas Anelka 25 metres from goal, he dragged the ball back, momentarily lost his footing as Everton captain Phil Neville slid past him and then regained his balance to unleash a majestic shot with his weaker left foot that grazed the fingers of Tim Howard as it found the far corner of the net to give Chelsea a 2-1 victory.
It may have felt a bit unusual to watch Chelsea winning and then celebrating that cup triumph in a kit that wasn’t royal blue but the fact of the matter is that yellow has been quite an auspicious colour for the club through the years.
If you look at the gallery of classic Chelsea kits on the club’s official website (http://www.chelseafc.com/classic-kits), you can see that the team wore yellow shirts as far back as 1922 although it was only in the 1960s when Tommy Docherty was the manager that it began to be feature more regularly as our alternative colour.
A collared yellow shirt, not too dissimilar to the retro-flavoured design that the players will be wearing next season, was introduced in 1963 and two years later, a round-collared version was used in the second leg of the 1965 League Cup final against Leicester City when a goalless draw at Filbert Street saw the Blues lifting a trophy for the only the second time in our history.
There was no need for Ron Harris and company to don a complete change kit for the replays of the 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds United and the 1971 Cup Winners’ Cup final against Real Madrid but with both of our opponents using all-white outfits, Chelsea had to wear yellow socks on each occasion. To complete the effect, the blue kit was trimmed with yellow lines and numbering for those games, both of which ended in long-remembered victories.
Among all of the yellow shirts that Chelsea have worn through the years, my personal favourite is the one that was introduced in the 1996-97 season.
Typical of the time, it is a fairly busy affair with yellow and light blue stripes in the top half of the shirt gradually fading into all yellow below the badge. However, it was a major improvement over the infamous grey and orange shirt that preceded it and it did provide Chelsea fans with some very happy memories.
It was used three times during our successful FA Cup run in 1997 – at Leicester, at Portsmouth and in the semi-final against Wimbledon at Highbury, when Gianfranco Zola netted one of his finest goals for the club in a comprehensive 3-0 win that set up a date in the final with Middlesbrough.
However, Chelsea’s finest moment in that yellow kit came the following season in yet another semi-final, this time against Vicenza in the Cup Winners’ Cup. For some reason, we wore yellow for the second leg at Stamford Bridge and the omens didn’t look when our Italian visitors, who already led 1-0 from the first leg, extended their advantage just after the half-hour mark.
Chelsea had to score three times in the final hour to rescue the tie but Gus Poyet pulled a goal back almost immediately and the diminutive Zola headed in the equaliser early in the second half before Mark Hughes spun and fired home the winning goal 12 minutes from time to complete one of the club’s finest-ever comeback wins in Europe.
Given the success that we have had in the past with yellow, the only real surprise is that it has taken five years to bring it back as our alternative kit colour. Hopefully, the wait would have been worth it and we can enjoy similar success to what has gone before when it is worn next season.
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