On This Day in Football: European Cup begins, Chelsea debut at the Bridge

The first ever match of the UEFA European Cup was played on this day in 1955.

Sporting hosted Partizan Belgrade in the first leg of their first round clash in Lisbon. 33,000 fans had gathered at the Estadio Nacional to watch the inaugural edition of the European Cup. Sporting took the lead after 14 minutes thanks to a goal from Joao Martins but Milos Milutinovic equalised for the Serbians just before half-time. Milutinovic added another goal five minutes after the second half kicked off. Simultaneously, Sporting defender Joao Galaz was sent off and the Portuguese were down to ten men. That did not stop them to get an equaliser as winger Quim scored at the hour mark.

Partizan captain Stjepan Bobek put his team ahead in the 73rd minute but Martins’ second goal of the match five minutes later salvaged a 3-3 draw for Sporting.

The two sides met again in Belgrade for the second leg a few days later. The Serbians won 5-2 and qualified for the next round on an aggregate score of 8-5.

The clubs participating in the tournament were chosen by French football magazine L’Equipe. Sporting had finished third in their domestic league the previous season while Partizan could only manage a 5th place finish in the old Yugoslavian league.

The clubs did not necessarily represent their countries as domestic champions. Many clubs rejected the invitation while some were barred from participating by their football associations. Hibernian were the first British team to play in the European Cup in its debut season. The Edinburgh side reached the semi-finals of the tournament but lost to French outfit Stade de Reims 3-0 on aggregate.

Chelsea were denied entry by Football League secretary Alan Hardaker who believed that an European club tournament was nothing but a distraction. May he rest in peace.

First game at the Bridge

Speaking of Chelsea, the Blues played their first ever game at Stamford Bridge on this day in 1905 – a 4-0 thrashing of Liverpool in a friendly.

The stadium opened in 1877 and until 1904, served as home to the London Athletic Club – the world’s oldest independent track and field club. In 1904, the lease for the ground was acquired by the Mears Brothers – Joseph and Gus.

The two brothers who were shrewd businessmen initially wanted to stage high profile matches in their newly acquired property. Instead, they came up with the novel idea of forming their own football club – Chelsea.

The Blues still call Stamford Bridge home and have won numerous domestic and European trophies.

And on the fourth day, God created Wednesday

On September the 4th in 1867, Sheffield Wednesday was founded following a meeting at the Adelphi hotel.

The club’s roots however lie not in football but in cricket. Before 1867, the club went by the name of The Wednesday Cricket Club. Founded in 1820, it was one of the oldest and preeminent cricket clubs of that era.

But cricket was a sport for the summers. The club needed another recreational activity that would help maintain the players’ fitness during the rainy season and the winters.

Therefore on September 4, 1867, which happened to be a Wednesday, the club members sat down at the Adelphi hotel in Sheffield to form a football club.

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