In the build-up to this match a veteran journalist visited Oakwell and asked for a player to interview. One was presented, but not introduced. After 10 minutes of carefully vague questions about playing Chelsea the hack thanked the player, waited until he was out of earshot and said to the press officer. "Who was that?"
He could perhaps be forgiven for not recognising Kayode Odejayi. As he had not scored since September, the striker's face had not been in too many newspapers or television clips. The Nigerian-born, UK-schooled 26-year-old is anonymous no longer. Even before he rose above Carlo Cudicini to send Oakwell into rapture his face was indelibly inked on Ricardo Carvalho's mind. The Portuguese defender will wake up in a cold sweat when he remembers the monstering Odejayi gave him on Saturday. Nor will John Terry and Cudicini sleep easy if they have to face Odejaye again.
Odejayi cost Barnsley £200,000. His counterpart, Nicolas Anelka, has cost a record £85m over his career. Anelka, so good at Upton Park last week, was largely anonymous here. Carvalho, Michael Ballack, Florent Malouda and Michael Essien were worse. Only Joe Cole, a constantly inventive threat, emerged with any credit for the visitors.
They were hustled out of their stride, but not kicked. Barnsley proved that an inferior team do not have to be brutal to discomfort technically better players: unstinting effort, organisation and composed self-belief are sufficient. Chelsea did not play well but, in demanding conditions, they were not allowed to.
The blame will inevitably be laid at the door of Avram Grant. Yet the team's shape was the same which had eviscerated West Ham. The personnel, while much-changed, appeared as strong. Frank Lampard's instinct for goal was missed, but Shaun Wright-Phillips has played well in midfield this season and usually rips through weaker opposition.
The fault has to lie with the players. On a cold, wet night, on a muddy pitch at an unfamiliar, in part archaic, venue, against unflinching opposition and a howling crowd, too many simply did not fancy it. There was also an air of complacency. Having begun in second gear, Chelsea were unable to step up.
Barnsley controlled the first half but Istvan Ferenczi hit the post and Odejayi's low confidence showed as he twice delayed his shot too long. After the break Chelsea improved and were taking control against tiring opponents when Essien lost possession. Barnsley broke and, from Martin Devaney's cross, Odejayi headed in. Carvalho and Juliano Belletti should have offered a challenge but Carlo Cudicini flapped haplessly. One day the Italian will look back on his career and realise what a waste of his talent it was to spend years on the bench at Stamford Bridge, picking up the cheques while his skills calcified.
Odejayi, a second cousin to Burnley's Ade Akinbayi, was released by Bristol City as a youngster and joined Forest Green Rovers with a view to taking A levels and finding a job outside the game. Signed by Cheltenham, he joined Barnsley in the summer but was booed off the pitch by his own fans during his 28-match goal drought. "There is nothing worse," he said. "Hopefully, this will go a long way to winning them round."
Just a bit. The goal gave Barnsley energy which lasted for the remaining 24 minutes, despite incredible tension in the closing stages. Chelsea had 69 per cent of the ball, 13 shots and 10 corners. Yet thanks to a series of desperate blocks, with Bobby Hassell leading the way, Luke Steele, the hero of the fifth-round win over Liverpool, was barely called into action.
The only time he was worried, in fact, was when supporters tried to snatch his gloves as a souvenir when he was being chaired around the pitch. Afterwards, when the last delirious fan had danced away to embark on a liquid celebration, Steele said: "I'm a little bit surprised I only had one save to make. People were saying I was going to be the busiest man in the UK but that wasn't the case and that's all credit to the other lads."
Steele is on loan from West Bromwich Albion. He is hoping for an extension – the deal expires on Saturday – and admitted he would watch last night's tie between Albion and Bristol Rovers and cheer for the latter, as he could not play if Barnsley were to be drawn against his employers. He added, wide-eyed: "A month ago I was playing for West Brom reserves against Nottingham Forest at Kettering in front of a couple of ... just a couple actually ... my dad and the pie seller. And now this."
The only worry for Barnsley was the possibility of the Football Association taking action following two pitch invasions. A relatively minor incursion of around 100 fans who mis-took the awarding of a free-kick for the final whistle was followed by a joyous, but potentially serious, full-scale swamping of the turf when Steve Bennett blew for good.
A spokesman said that the FA would await reports from Bennett, the crowd control adviser, Barnsley and the police. "We will get a full picture of what happened and what provisions the club put in place for crowd control," he said. The likelihood is that Barnsley will escape sanction. Clubs are usually charged only when there is violence or negligence and Barnsley had plenty of stewards and police in place. The club can aid their case by banning those supporters who were arrested.
"I think it was a bit silly but you can understand the supporters being excited," Devaney said. "It's a massive day and a great achievement. I think the FA have got to take that into consideration. Hopefully, there won't be any silly fines and the club can enjoy this, savour the moment and bank the money as well."
Ah, the romance of the Cup. But when you have been in administration, as Barnsley have, the £2m-plus a run like this provides is as important as the glory.
Goal: Odejaye (66) 1-0.
Barnsley (4-4-2): Steele; Van Homoet, Foster, Souza, Kozluk; Devaney (Togwell, 73), Hassell, Howard, Campbell-Ryce; Odejayi (Coulson, 80), Ferenczi. Substitutes not used: Nardiello, Butterfield, Leon.
Chelsea (4-1-2-3): Cudicini; Belletti (Pizarro 74), Carvalho, Terry, Bridge; Essien; Wright-Phillips, Ballack; J Cole, Anelka, Malouda (Kalou, 62). Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Mikel, Ben-Haim.
Referee: S Bennett (Kent).
Booked: Barnsley Kozluk. Chelsea Carvalho.
Man of the match: Hassell.
Attendance: 22,410.Reuse content