6th-7th May 1994

Results: Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool FC, Blackburn Rovers 0-0 Ipswich Town, Chelsea 3-2 Sheffield United, Everton 3-2 Wimbledon, Newcastle United 2-0 Arsenal, Norwich City 1-1 Oldham Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Manchester City, Swindon Town 0-5 Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Queens Park Rangers, West Ham United 3-3 Southampton, Manchester United 0-0 Coventry City

With Manchester United having been crowned Premier League champions for the second successive season four days earlier, all the drama on the final weekend of the 1993-1994 season was at the bottom of the table. Swindon Town were already relegated but there were still two relegation spots to be filled.

With an inferior goal difference to their rivals, Oldham Athletic needed a minor miracle. They had run out of steam at the wrong point in the season. Incredibly, their final match of the season against Norwich City was their sixth game in just 14 days! The Latics could certainly complain about the fixture backlog and their FA Cup semi-final agony at the hands of Manchester United had affected them mentally too. They had to win by at least three clear goals and hope results went their way. Sean McCarthy did give them a 13th minute lead but there would be no great escape this time around. Rob Ullathorne’s equaliser 17 minutes from full-time ensured the points were shared in a 1-1 draw and confirmed Oldham’s drop to Division One.

Oldham were down but there was one spot up for grabs and it was between Everton, Ipswich Town, Southampton and Sheffield United. Everton’s season had been a nightmare. Having topped the table after three matches, they had seen Howard Kendall quit in December and highly-rated Mike Walker unable to stop the slide. Only a win against in-form Wimbledon would give them a chance of beating the drop. It looked hopeless after just 20 minutes. A Dean Holdsworth penalty and Gary Ablett’s unfortunate own goal had Wimbledon 2-0 ahead. With the Dons unbeaten in nine matches, Everton’s fate looked to be sealed. However, divine inspiration came in the form of Graham Stuart. His penalty in the 24th minute gave the home side some hope after Anders Limpar’s ‘dive’ won the spot-kick. Barry Horne scored a belter to level the scores and then, with nine minutes left, Stuart’s second of the afternoon somehow eluded the grasp of Hans Segers. Everton were infront and held on for a 3-2 victory. A pitch invasion at the full-time whistle confirmed they had survived but only just.

Everton’s comeback meant Ipswich Town were very vulnerable. Having been 12th in the table after beating Aston Villa on 12th Match, the Tractor Boys had collected just two points from their next nine matches. They had a testing trip to Blackburn Rovers who were already guaranteed the runners-up position. Blackburn had the better of the chances but couldn’t find a way through. The match ended goalless. However, that would have sent them down if scores remained the same in the two games based in London involving Southampton and Sheffield United.

For the second successive season, Matt Le Tissier produced some magic on the final day. His two goals helped Southampton to a pulsating 3-3 draw at Upton Park with West Ham United, despite Ken Monkou’s late own goal costing them three points. The Saints were safe. It looked like Sheffield United would also be celebrating safety. They led twice at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea and going into stoppage-time, a 2-2 scoreline was good enough for the Blades. Then, Mark Stein snatched a late winner for Chelsea and results elsewhere meant it was Dave Bassett’s club who were relegated in devastating circumstances. It had been an afternoon full of contrasting emotions.

Elsewhere, Leeds United’s 5-0 victory away at Swindon Town meant the Premier League debutants became the first and so far, only side to concede 100 goals in a top-flight season since 1992. Aston Villa’s 2-1 success at home to Liverpool FC ensured their pipped Midlands rivals Coventry City to a top 10 finish. The Sky Blues might have lost that battle with the Villans but still earned a creditable 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in the final match of an exciting weekend.

What else happened in May 1994?

  • In joyous scenes across the country, Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president.
  • UK politics is suspended after the sudden death of the Labour leader John Smith. He suffered a massive heart attack on 12th May and dies aged 55.
  • Three-time world Formula One champion Ayrton Senna is killed in an accident whilst leading the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. He was just 34-years-old.
  • The Channel Tunnel, which can get people between Britain and France in 35 minutes, is open to the public for the first time.
  • In late May, Scottish group Wet Wet Wet reach no.1 with Love Is All Around. It will spend 15 consecutive weeks on top of the UK music charts.
  • The film Four Weddings and a Funeral is released in the UK.
  • Malawi holds its first multiparty elections.

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