Chelsea 2-0 Sparta Prague (lost footage of international football match; 1957)

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Programme for the match.

Status: Lost

On 19th March 1957, English football club Chelsea hosted Czechoslovakian team Sparta Prague for a friendly international football match that marked the opening of Stamford Bridge's new floodlights. The encounter is notable for being one of the earliest international football matches to be televised live by ITV.


Heading into the match, Chelsea was heading towards a mid-table finish in the 1956/57 English Football League First Division, eventually finishing 13th out of 22 clubs with 39 points.[1] Meanwhile, Sparta Prague (Spartak Praha Sokolovo) was competing for the 1956 Czechoslovak First League title, ultimately finishing 3rd out of 12 clubs with 26 points.[2] For Chelsea, the encounter would mark the first instance of its senior side playing under Stamford Bridge's new 170-foot high floodlights.[3][4] The floodlights were tested and fine-tuned thanks to a privately-held Chelsea Juniors match held a few days before the main event.[4][3]

The match itself occurred in front of over 30,000, who were amazed by the new floodlights.[5] Ultimately, while Sparta Prague boasted nine international team players, including five that contributed towards Czechoslovakia defeating Hungary 4-2 in 1956, Chelsea's defence and counter-attack strategies paid dividends.[3] The English side would take the lead thanks to a goal from Les Allen, with Derek Gibbs scoring a second to enable Chelsea to win the match 2-0.[3] Reporters praised the floodlights in action, with one stating "If candlelight is kind to the human face, then floodlighting certainly lends a magic to a football arena."[3]

The encounter was also notable for being televised live by ITV.[6] While it was not the first to be broadcast, with the 1956 Southern Junior Floodlight Cup Final receiving coverage in January 1956, it was one of the earliest international encounters to receive ITV coverage.[7][6] In an era where ITV focused on smaller games, the match served as a prelude for ITV's coverage of a European Cup encounter between Manchester United and Real Madrid on 25th April 1957.[7][6]


Ultimately, the match was televised live in a period where telerecordings were rare until videotape was perfected in the late-1950s.[8] The broadcast has yet to resurface, and no images or other recordings are publicly available either.

See Also