Great Goals: Loic Remy – QUEENS PARK RANGERS vs. Wigan Athletic – (April 2013)

Both of these teams were in a real relegation scrap at this stage of the season. It was a game Wigan Athletic couldn’t afford to lose. It was a match QPR simply had to win. The home side were up against it for 70 minutes when Bobby Zamora’s high challenge on Jordi Gomez resulted in a red card.

QPR stayed in the game at 0-0 and when a Wigan set-piece broke down, they sprung on their opposition with a brilliant breakaway. Stephane Mbia ran and ran, before playing in Loic Remy. The Frenchman still had plenty to do but he unleashed a corker of a strike on the edge of the area past a helpless Joel Robles.

Wigan recovered to snatch a point in stoppage time but it would be tears for both when the season concluded. The pair were both relegated. However, Remy’s goal was a standout moment in a forgettable campaign at Loftus Road.

Advertisements

Premier League Files: Tony Dorigo

Premier League Career: Leeds United (1992-1997), Derby County (1998-2000)

Born in Adelaide, Australia, Tony Dorigo forged a fairly fruitful career which saw him scoop individual Player of the Year awards at four of his professional clubs.

Before the emergence of the Premier League, the full-back turned out for both Aston Villa and Chelsea. He was sold to Leeds United in the summer of 1991 for £1.3m and was part of the side that won the last Football League title before the Premier League was formed in 1992.

Dorigo ended in the PFA Team of the Year in 1992/1993; the only positive in a pitiful season for the reigning champions as they finished a dreary 17th and without an away win all season. He stayed with the Yorkshire side before moving to Torino in 1997.

The club’s financial problems meant his Italian experience was brief. Dorigo spent only one season abroad and returned to England, playing another two Premier League campaigns for Jim Smith at Derby County. He scored one Premier League goal for the Rams; a penalty against East Midlands rivals’ Nottingham Forest in November 1998.

Dorigo dropped down the divisions to finish his club career with Stoke City where he was club captain. He won 15 caps for England and was part of the squad that reached the World Cup semi-finals at Italia 90. After hanging up his boots, Dorigo has forged a reputable career as a football pundit. He has worked for the likes of ESPN, Eurosport and Channel 5 and commentates on Premier League matches for Absolute Radio.

Great Goals: Danny Rose – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs. Arsenal (April 2010)

It is your Premier League debut and it happens to be against your local rivals. To add more spice to the mixture, it is a game your side probably has to win to still stand a realistic hope of qualifying for the Champions League. You must be full of nerves?  Not if you’re Danny Rose.

Nine minutes in and Tottenham win a corner. The ball is swept in and punched clear by Manuel Almunia, only into the path of Rose. The left-back connects sweetly with the dropping ball and launches a thunderous volley from 30-yards out that beats Almunia all-ends-up. There was disbelief even from Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. Rose was now in the history of this famous fixture.

Tottenham won 2-1 for their first league success against Arsenal since November 1999 and they would finish in the Premier League’s top four, helped heavily by this great impact from Rose.

 

Great Goals: Charlie Adam – Chelsea vs. STOKE CITY (April 2015)

Charlie Adam has always had the eye for the spectacular which goes back to his Premier League spell with Blackpool. However, his best goal was scored for his current club Stoke City against the champions from the 2014-2015 season, Chelsea.

The Blues were 1-0 up with half-time approaching when Eden Hazard was dispossessed. Jon Walters collected the ball and played it back to Adam. The Scot saw Thibaut Courtois off his goal-line and decided to try his luck from 66 yards out. He judged his effort brilliantly. Despite Courtois getting a hand to the strike, he couldn’t stop it going over him and into the back of the net. Everyone who witnessed it was stunned. It was awesome, apart from his celebration afterwards!

Stoke lost 2-1 but scored the goal of the match. Incredibly, it didn’t win Goal of the Season either but it was my favourite from the 2014-2015 campaign.

Iconic Moments: Boro’s deduction (December 1996)

Hopes were high at Middlesbrough when the 1996/1997 season got underway. UEFA Champions League winner Fabrizio Ravanelli had joined Brazilians Juninho, Emerson and Branco at the club. Bryan Robson was putting together a decent squad on Teeside.

It didn’t take long for that to fall apart though. Despite three wins from their opening five games, Boro went on a wretched run in the autumn and winter months and slipped towards a perilous relegation battle. Christmas 1996 looked like it would be a make-or-break period for the club.

On Saturday, 21 December 1996, the club were scheduled to make a trip to Ewood Park to play relegation rivals Blackburn Rovers. However at late notice, the game was postponed and it wasn’t down to the weather either. A flu bug had hit the Middlesbrough squad and the manager insisted he did not have enough players to fulfil the fixture due to illness and injury. 23 players were unavailable and the club had medical evidence to back their point up.

Blackburn were incensed at the postponement at 24 hours’ notice and the FA didn’t believe Robson and the club’s claim. Middlesbrough were charged and a month later, fined £50,000. The punishment didn’t end there either. The club were deducted three points which was the first time this happened in Premier League history.

Despite a revival towards the end of the season, Boro’s fixture pile-up having got to the League Cup and FA Cup final got the better of them. On the final day, a draw at Elland Road was not enough to keep them in the top-flight. They were relegated and finished two points adrift of safety. Chairman Steve Gibson revealed later that the team had gone down not on the field, but because of the decision of “three men in grey suits.” To top things off, the Teesiders lost both domestic cup finals that season.

Right or wrong of what happened; Middlesbrough’s no-show at Ewood would turn out to be a costly error.

The Managers: George Graham

Premier League Clubs Managed: Arsenal (1992-1995), Leeds United (1996-1998), Tottenham Hotspur (1998-2001)

George Graham enjoyed a successful managerial career, notably at Arsenal where he managed to guide the club to two league championships and multiple cup success in domestic competitions.

He had a distinguished playing career and was part of the famous Gunners’ squad that won the league and cup double in 1971. Graham spent six seasons at Highbury, playing over 220 games. He ultimately finished his playing time with a brief spell in America in 1978, figuring for California Surf.

After learning under the tutelage of Terry Venables on the coaching staff at Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers, Graham first became a manager in December 1982 at Millwall. He spent four years at the Den, steering them from the bottom of the old Third Division to promotion during his reign.

Former club Arsenal came calling following Don Howe’s resignation in 1986. Having not won a trophy in seven years, the Arsenal board were keen to get the club back into silverware contention during a time where the Merseyside teams were sweeping the majority of the trophies. He added a stricter discipline to the dressing room and Arsenal instantly became winners. They won the League Cup in his first season in charge.

Building a team around young skipper Tony Adams and a tight defence, the flair of Paul Merson, Alan Smith and Michael Thomas took Arsenal towards the league title in sensational circumstances in 1989. Thomas scored the vital second goal on the final evening of the season at Anfield to win the game against Liverpool FC. The 2-0 victory was enough to snatch the title away from the Reds’ grasp. Two seasons later, he led the North Londoners to another title, losing just one league match all season with the likes of Swedish winger Anders Limpar and future England no.1 goalkeeper David Seaman added to his valuable assets.

Premier League management

In 1992, Arsenal were considered among the title favourites for the first Premier League season but started badly with back-to-back defeats to surprise packages Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers. A victory at Anfield did follow a week later but league form was inconsistent and the team finished tenth – Graham’s lowest finish in the league. However, that disappointment was soothed by a domestic cup double, beating Sheffield Wednesday in both matches.

Graham’s side became very defence-minded and was almost fully reliant on goals from Ian Wright. They averaged just 48 league goals in each of the Premier League’s first three seasons and were the lowest scorers in the division during the inaugural season. His reign at Arsenal ultimately ended very controversially. In late 1994, it emerged Graham had accepted a £425,000 payment from a Norwegian agent, Rune Hauge following the signings two years earlier of Scandinavian pair, Pal Lydersen and John Jensen. Graham was sacked by the club in February 1995 and the FA later banned him for a year for his part in the transfer dealings.

After serving his ban, he returned to football management with Leeds United, replacing Howard Wilkinson in September 1996. As ever, he worked on getting the defence right and despite scoring a meagre 28 goals, Leeds finished comfortably in mid-table in 11th spot. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was signed a year later and the Yorkshire side became a more exciting side to watch. There were thrilling 4-3 victories over Blackburn Rovers and Derby County and a 5-0 trouncing of the Rams at Pride Park. Leeds finished a creditable fifth in the 1997/1998 table.

Tottenham courted his services following the departure of Christian Gross and there was an uncomfortable afternoon when Leeds visited White Hart Lane with Graham still employed by the club but almost about to take over at Spurs. The banners “Who are you supporting today George?” pretty much summed it up.  A 3-3 draw meant the entertainment value on-the-field matched the boardroom discussions between the two clubs.

Graham eventually took over at Tottenham at the start of October 1998. For the fans, an ex-Arsenal manager was not a popular choice but he did guide Tottenham to their first silverware in seven years, defeating Leicester City 1-0 in the 1999 League Cup final. However, Tottenham couldn’t finish higher than 10th in the table and he was sacked in March 2001, shortly after the club’s ownership changed hands. An alleged breach of contract was given as the reason for his sudden departure and it was fair to say, things ended rather acrimoniously between ENIC, who had purchased the club and the manager.

Graham has been out of management ever since, instead focusing on being the chief pundit for Sky Sports’ pay-per-view Premiership Plus coverage from 2001 to 2007. He has been linked with vacancies at Leicester City, West Ham United and Sunderland but opted to stay away from the dugout.

George Graham achieved plenty in his career and his 10 managerial honours in very impressive. However, his best days ultimately took place before the formation of the FA Premier League.

Shock Results: Chelsea 0-3 Sunderland (November 2010)

Goalscorers: Nedum Onuoha 45, Asamoah Gyan 52, Danny Welbeck 87

Teams:

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Ashley Cole, Jose Boswinga, Paulo Ferreira, Ramires (Josh McEachran 69), John Obi Mikel, Florent Malouda (Salomon Kalou 58), Yuri Zhirkov (Gael Kakuta 75), Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka

Sunderland: Craig Gordon, Phil Bardsley, Michael Turner, Kieran Richardson, Nedum Onuoha, Titus Bramble, Lee Cattermole (Cristian Riveros 90), Jordan Henderson, Bolo Zenden, Danny Welbeck (Ahmed Elmohamady 90), Asamoah Gyan (Steed Malbranque 83)

Referee: Chris Foy, Attendance: 41,072

Beginning the game two points clear of Arsenal who had won an earlier kick-off at Goodison Park, Chelsea were expected to increase their lead again against a Sunderland side that just two weeks earlier, had caved in 5-1 in the Tyne & Wear Derby against Newcastle United.

The build-up to the match though was dominated by the mysterious decision by the champions to sack their assistant manager Ray Wilkins. The post-match headlines wrote themselves. The league leaders were outplayed by a brilliant Black Cats’ display. This result remains one of Steve Bruce’s greatest successes in football management.

Chelsea might have been missing John Terry to a back injury and Frank Lampard too but their makeshift central-defence partnership of Paulo Ferreira and Branislav Ivanovic couldn’t cope with the power of Asamoah Gyan and movement of on-loan striker Danny Welbeck.

Just before half-time, Sunderland took a deserved lead with an unbelievable solo goal from an unlikely source. Ivanovic, already lucky to stay on after fouling Welbeck when he was in on goal cleared the ball out to Nedum Onuoha. There didn’t look to be too much on, so the defender went on a mazy run, holding off the attentions of three defenders, before angling his shot past Petr Cech to the crowd’s astonishment. It was the first goal Chelsea had conceded at Stamford Bridge in this Premier League season.

1-0 became 2-0 shortly after the restart. Another free-flowing move involving Welbeck and Jordan Henderson ended with summer signing Gyan being played in to prod home a second goal. The home crowd were shell-shocked and this kind of performance was a sign of things to come for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

In the closing stages, Ashley Cole’s wayward backpass was intercepted by the excellent Welbeck and he finished the match off in the grand manner. It was Sunderland’s first win in a decade over Chelsea and took Bruce’s team into the top six. This defeat started a dreadful run of one win in nine matches that finished off Chelsea’s title defence and ultimately cost Ancelotti his job at the season’s conclusion.

Sunderland faded to 10th but their travelling supporters will never forget this day where they outclassed the reigning champions on their own patch.

Premier League Files: David Bardsley

Premier League Career: Queens Park Rangers (1992-1996)

David Bardsley had a playing career that spanned almost two decades. He started his career at Blackpool and was part of the Watford squad that reached the FA Cup final in 1984, losing to Everton in the showpiece event.

After two seasons with Oxford United, Bardsley joined Queens Park Rangers for £500,000 in 1989 and was part of the Hoops team that often punched upon their weight in the early Premier League years.

Bardsley’s consistency in the maiden Premier League season won him international recognition from Graham Taylor and England, playing in a World Cup qualifier against Poland. At club level, his performances were recognised by his peers as his made the PFA Team of the Year.

Queens Park Rangers finished in the top nine in each of the first three Premier League seasons but relegation followed in 1996. He stayed loyal to the club but unfortunately, a career-threatening Achilles injury kept Bardsley virtually on the sidelines for two seasons. He left the club in 1998, returning to Blackpool before finishing his career with a brief cameo for Northwich Victoria in 2001.

Following retirement, Bardsley opened his own soccer schools and moved to America in 2006, setting-up the Orlando FC QPR Academy USA. It is a programme for kids’ from the ages of 13-20 to teach them the basics of the beautiful game. He also works as a freelance commentator and analyst.

Referees in the Middle: Paul Alcock

Premier League Career: 1995-2000

First Premier League Match: Coventry City 2-1 Manchester City (23 August 1995)

Final Premier League Match: Liverpool FC 0-0 Southampton (7 May 2000)

Born in 1953, Paul Alcock spent over 20 years in professional football and was a Premier League referee from 1995-2000.

Originally from Surrey, Alcock became a linesman in the Football League in 1982 and spent six seasons running the line at many English grounds. He joined the Premier League referee list in 1995 and his first game in charge was on the first midweek round of fixtures in the 1995/1996 season. Dion Dublin scored a late header in Coventry City’s 2-1 win over Manchester City at Highfield Road.

He is most famously known for a dramatic incident in a match at Hillsborough between Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal in September 1998. The trouble began a minute before half-time when Patrick Vieira reacted angrily to a sly challenge from Petter Rudi. Paolo di Canio got involved and as players from both sides attempted to break things up, di Canio kicked out at Martin Keown.

This was spotted by Alcock who sent the charismatic Italian off. Di Canio’s response was to thrust his hands into Alcock’s chest and push him to the ground in a complete moment of madness. He was then involved in a further confrontation with Nigel Winterburn before being ushered from the field of play. Sheffield Wednesday suspended their maverick almost immediately.

At an FA hearing a month later, Di Canio was banned for 11 matches and fined £10,000. Alcock considered quitting the game after the incident and he wasn’t happy with the punishment, saying: “I am concerned that the message being sent out by the FA can be interpreted as being lenient.”

Alcock continued refereeing in the Premier League until May 2000 before dropping back into the Football League for two seasons. His final match was a Division One game between Norwich City and Stockport County in 2002.

After hanging up his whistle, Alcock went into the retail industry, becoming the shopping centre manager of the Malls Chequers in Maidstone. He retired from that role in 2014 and has also held roles with the Maidstone Leisure Trust, along with still being a football referee assessor in the Championship.

In March 2017, he admitted in a newspaper interview that he was battling cancer for a third time. Initially diagnosed in 2015, I would like to wish him well in his battle to beat the cruel disease once more.

Premier League Rewind: 15th – 17th August 1992

Results: Arsenal 2-4 Norwich City, Chelsea 1-1 Oldham Athletic, Coventry City 2-1 Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace 3-3 Blackburn Rovers, Everton 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town 1-1 Aston Villa, Leeds United 2-1 Wimbledon, Sheffield United 2-1 Manchester United, Southampton 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur, Nottingham Forest 1-0 Liverpool FC, Manchester City 1-1 QPR

After all the hype, the anticipation and the build-up, a new dawn for English football began on Saturday 15th August 1992 – the very first day of action in the newly-formed FA Premier League.

18 of the 22 clubs took part on the first day of action and there was a fast start at Bramwall Lane, where the first goal in the league’s history was scored by Brian Deane of Sheffield United. His header after just five minutes opened the scoring against title favourites Manchester United. Deane added another goal in the second half as the Blades came away with a 2-1 victory and gave the Red Devils plenty of food for thought.

Arsenal were also among the bookies’ favourites for the inaugural title. English champions in 1989 and 1991, the Gunners started against Norwich City, who had just managed to avoid relegation the previous campaign. Whilst the North Bank standing terrace had been demolished for an all-seater replacement, the controversial ‘Highbury Mural’ took its place. It was created to hide the various cranes and construction works that would be in place during its restructure. The team found no inspiration. In fact, they crumbled from a 2-0 winning position to lose 4-2. Norwich would end the opening weekend on top of the table.

The defending champions were Leeds United and they started off with an edgy 2-1 home win over Wimbledon. Lee Chapman scored both goals for Howard Wilkinson’s side. Home form wouldn’t be too much of an issue in their title defence but their away record was terrible and would totally derail any long-term title tilt in 1992/1993.

Blackburn Rovers were new to the top-flight, having been promoted via the playoffs. They had spent big too that summer, smashing the British transfer record to sign Southampton striker Alan Shearer, who had been courted by Manchester United. Shearer immediately started to repay the first instalments of the fee. He scored twice at Selhurst Park but Blackburn were to be denied an opening win in the blazing South London sunshine. Simon Osborn scored in the last minute to ensure a share of the spoils for Crystal Palace.

“A Whole New Ball Game” began a day later with the first live game televised by Sky Sports. Teddy Sheringham had the honour of scoring the first live televised goal in the Premier League. His strike was enough for Nottingham Forest to defeat Liverpool FC 1-0 at the City Ground on Ford Super Sunday. It would prove to be Sheringham’s final goal as a Forest player. Days later, he was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur.

The final weekend concluded with Manchester City vs Queens Park Rangers on the Monday Night Football. David White scored from close range to give the home side the lead. This was swiftly cancelled out in the second half by an Andy Sinton blockbuster. 1-1 was the final score at Maine Road.

30 goals were scored on the first weekend of Premier League football. The omens were good for a fruitful opening season in the new English top-flight.

What else happened in August 1992?

  • David Gower plays in his final cricket test match for England.
  • The 25th Olympic Games come to a conclusion in Barcelona. Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell and Chris Boardman are among the Gold Medal winners for Great Britain.
  • 35 people lose their lives as Hurricane Andrew hits South Florida.
  • Canada, Mexico, and the United States announce a deal is reached on the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • Intimate photographs of the Duchess of York and a Texan businessman, John Bryan, are published in the Daily Mirror.
  • Nigel Mansell wins the FIA Formula One World Championship after finishing second to Ayrton Senna at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Iconic Moments: Cantona’s Kung-Fu Madness (January 1995)

Manchester United’s iconic Frenchman Eric Cantona was one of the Premier League’s best players in its early inception. However, his short temper could lead him into massive trouble too – none more so than on a cold Wednesday evening at Selhurst Park in January 1995.

Frustrated by their opponents Crystal Palace and upset by a number of sly fouls, Cantona took exception to this and six minutes into the second half, kicked out at defender Richard Shaw. Linesman Eddie Lewis spotted the transgression and Alan Wilkie had no option but to send Cantona off. Whilst his teammates, particularly Denis Irwin and Andy Cole argued with the decision, Cantona seemed to accept his fate.

He walked past his manager Sir Alex Ferguson and was on his way to the tunnel when he took some vile abuse from Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons. Simmons was taunting Cantona and whatever was said provoked the fuse lit inside the French national captain. Cantona launched a spectacular kung-fu kick over the advertising hoardings and in the direction of Simmons, before launching several punches in his direction. Kit man Norman Davies and goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel were the men who had to drag Cantona away from the scene. Another Palace supporter found it so funny, he decided to chuck the contents of his tea in Cantona’s direction but he missed and soaked a bemused Schmeichel.

United would have to play on without him and they went on to take the lead through David May’s header. Gareth Southgate equalised in the closing stages to ensure the match finished 1-1 but that wasn’t the main story.

Manchester United understood the gravity of the situation. A day later, they had little option but to suspend Cantona from first-team duty for the rest of the season and fine him by the maximum term underneath his contract. He was later jailed before the sentence was reduced to 120 hours of community service. This prompted the famous line afterwards; “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”

Cantona was like a conductor on-the-pitch but the fifth and ultimately final red card of his professional career would end up having a major say in the destiny of where the title headed in 1995.

Great Goals: Papiss Cisse – Chelsea vs. NEWCASTLE UNITED (May 2012)

Papiss Cisse had a decent goalscoring reputation with SC Freiburg in the Bundesliga. He carried this form into the early months of his Newcastle United career. Signed by the Magpies in January 2012, Cisse was electrifying and couldn’t stop scoring. His finest moment came in an away game at Chelsea in May 2012.

Having already fired a left-foot volley past Petr Cech in the 19th minute, the Senegalese international went one better in the second half. On the left-hand side in stoppage time, Cisse received the ball from Shola Ameobi and tried his luck from distance. He produced an amazing swerving shot the curled beyond the helpless Cech.

Newcastle won 2-0 and this goal took Cisse’s tally to 13 goals in 12 games. It ensured Chelsea would have to win that season’s Champions League to enter the competition in 2012-2013. Fifth is Newcastle’s best Premier League finish in the last decade.