All posts by Simon Wright

Hello, I am Simon, 23 and studying a BA Hons in Journalism (3rd and final year) at the University of Northampton.

Iconic Moments: Le Tissier has the final say at The Dell (May 2001)

In May 2001, Southampton were about to bid farewell to The Dell; the ground they had played their football at for over 100 years. Their new state-of-the-art stadium at St Mary’s was ready for use at the start of the 2001-2002 campaign.

Their final match at the historic, tight ground would be against Arsenal and fittingly, the final say had to go to the player Saints fans called ‘Le God.’

Over the years, Matt Le Tissier had scored a glut of sensational goals. A series of special free-kicks, a long-distance stunning away strike at Blackburn Rovers and a fabulous individual solo effort at home to Newcastle United in October 1993 were among some of the best. By the time the 2001 season ended, injuries meant his role was now restricted to limited substitute appearances. He came on in the 74th minute to a rapturous reception and he wasn’t going to leave it at that.

With the scoreline at 2-2 in the closing stages, James Beattie won the ball in the air and when Martin Keown failed to clear, the ball sat up perfectly for Le Tissier. He struck a beautiful left-foot shot on the half-volley and it flew past Alex Manninger.

The ground erupted in noise and ecstasy as he was mobbed by his teammates. Afterwards, he said: “It’s very special to score the last goal and I couldn’t have imagined a better ending. But I don’t see why I can’t score the first goal at the new stadium as well,”

Unfortunately, he would never score another goal in professional football and retired in 2002 but what a way to finish football at The Dell for Southampton’s greatest player.

 

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Premier League Rewind: 18th-19th August 2001

Results: Charlton Athletic 1-2 Everton, Derby County 2-1 Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United 2-0 Southampton, Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers, Liverpool FC 2-1 West Ham United, Middlesbrough 0-4 Arsenal, Sunderland 1-0 Ipswich Town, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Aston Villa, Chelsea 1-1 Newcastle United, Manchester United 3-2 Fulham

The opening weekend of the 2001-2002 Premier League season saw 28 goals in its first weekend with a new title sponsor. Barclaycard had taken over sponsorship rights over the summer from Carling.

Fulham were welcomed into the Premier League family and they had a daunting first fixture too against reigning Premier League champions Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson was looking to achieve four titles in a row in what at the time we thought was going to be his final campaign in the dugout at Old Trafford.

They were pushed all the way by the newcomers, with Louis Saha making an immediate impression. The Frenchman scored twice as Fulham led twice but their best efforts were cancelled out by United’s new £19 million striker. Ruud van Nistelrooy helped himself to a debut double and the home side came away with all three points in a nervy 3-2 victory.

Unlike Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers did boast previous Premier League experience. They both returned to the top-flight on this weekend, with mixed fortunes. Blackburn lost 2-1 at Derby County, as Fabrizio Ravanelli scored a trademark free-kick on his return to English football.

On the other hand, Bolton had a day to savour at Filbert Street, crushing Leicester City 5-0. The outstanding Per Frandsen scored two free-kicks and Kevin Nolan also scored twice as the pressure cranked up on Leicester boss Peter Taylor.

There was a bad-tempered match on Teeside as Arsenal travelled to Middlesbrough. Steve McClaren’s first game as a Premier League boss ended in a 4-0 home defeat as Arsenal began their extraordinary run of scoring in every single league match in the season. Both Ugo Ehiogu and Ray Parlour were sent off with two late goals by Dennis Bergkamp making the scoreline look more flattering than how the actual game developed.

Liverpool FC had Michael Owen to thank once again. Owen continued where he left off from the previous season in his dream year which saw him finish as the European Footballer of the Year. He scored twice as the Reds defeated West Ham United 2-1 at Anfield. Lastly, Chelsea and Newcastle United shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. This match was more notable as it was the first game in the UK that was made available via a pay-per-view subscription model. Premiership Plus would be around on the Sky platform for the next five seasons.

What else happened in August 2001?

  • Former royal butler Paul Burrell is charged with theft of items that belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales. The prosecution collapses three months later.
  • A plane crash in the Bahamas claims the life of American R&B performer Aaliyah and eight members of her record company. She was just 22-years-old.
  • Law goes into effect in Germany legalizing same-sex registered partnerships.
  • Whitney Houston signs the largest contract in music history with Arista Records, a six-album deal worth over $100 million.
  • Michael Schumacher wins the FIA Formula One World Championship with victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. It is the German’s fourth world title.
  • The BBC introduces a fourth weekly episode of EastEnders, to be broadcast at 8pm every Friday night.

Shock Results: Arsenal 2-3 West Bromwich Albion (September 2010)

Goalscorers: Peter Odemwingie 50, Gonzalo Jara 52, Jerome Thomas 73, Samir Nasri 75, 90

Teams:

Arsenal: Manuel Almunia, Gael Clichy, Laurent Koscielny (Carlos Vela 66), Sebastien Squillaci, Bacary Sagna, Emmanuel Eboue (Jack Wilshere 56), Abou Diaby (Tomas Rosicky 56), Alex Song, Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh

West Bromwich Albion: Scott Carson, Pablo Ibanez, Gonzalo Jara, Jonas Olsson, Nicky Shorey, Youssouf Mulumbu, Paul Scharner (Steven Reid 71), Chris Brunt, James Morrison (Graham Dorrans 78), Jerome Thomas (Somen Tchoyi 83), Peter Odemwingie

Referee: Michael Oliver, Attendance: 60,025

West Bromwich Albion arrived at The Emirates Stadium in September 2010 on a real high. They had just beaten their local rivals Birmingham City in the Premier League and dumped big-spending Manchester City out of the League Cup in midweek. Nevertheless, their chances of overcoming Arsenal were seen as quite low. 19 top-flight matches had passed since they’d won away from The Hawthorns.

Arsenal were missing the injured Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott but started strongly and it took some desperate clearances to stop West Brom falling behind very early on. Russian playmaker Andrey Arshavin hit the post and the main forward, Marouane Chamakh, headed narrowly wide from a Bacary Sagna cross. However, Roberto Di Matteo’s side had taken some lessons from Sunderland having frustrated the Gunners a week earlier. Their high pressing style and ability to close down space meant Arsenal’s most influential players weren’t able to get the time and space they normally would to dictate the tempo of the match. Nine minutes before half-time, Albion had a golden opportunity to take the lead.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia charged off his goal-line and chopped down the Nigerian forward Peter Odemwingie. It was a poorly-timed challenge and Michael Oliver correctly awarded a spot-kick. Up stepped the captain of the club, Chris Brunt. However, his penalty was weak, not fully in the corner and Almunia guessed right to redeem himself for giving away the opportunity in the first place.

It was 0-0 at half-time but the visitors, who might have felt they’d squandered their best chance, would get a catalogue of charitable moments in the second half which was clearly unexpected. Five minutes into the second half, former Arsenal player Jerome Thomas escaped Sagna on the by-line and pulled the ball back for Odemwingie to finish smartly. It was his third goal in just five matches for the club.

Two minutes later, it was 2-0. Brunt’s back heel underneath Gael Clichy’s legs played Gonzalo Jara through. The full-back tried his luck and it somehow beat Almunia who made a feeble attempt to save the shot at his near post. The game was as good as over after 73 minutes. Brunt pounced on some hesitant goalkeeping from Almunia, squared the ball across the box and Thomas finished into an empty net.

Samir Nasri did pull two goals back late on but the damage had been done and West Bromwich Albion held on for a deserved victory. This was the highlight of Di Matteo’s West Brom reign. He was sacked in February 2011 after a run of 13 defeats in 18 games but under the guidance of Roy Hodgson, the club survived comfortably in 11th position.

Premier League Files: Paulo Wanchope

Premier League Career: Derby County (1997-1999), West Ham United (1999-2000), Manchester City (2000-2001, 2003-2004)

Costa Rican Paulo Wanchope was an enigmatic forward who could do amazing things one minute, then completely frustrate you the very next. However, he will still go down as having one of the most amazing debuts in the Premier League.

He joined Derby County in March 1997, costing the club £600,000. His debut would come at Old Trafford against current champions and league leaders Manchester United. Unless you really knew your football, few would have heard of the name Paulo Wanchope at kick-off. It was a completely different story by the full-time whistle.

Derby were already 1-0 up when Wanchope took possession inside his own half. He went on to beat no fewer than four Manchester United players with a gangling, but decisive run through their backline before calmly placing the ball beyond the advancing Peter Schmeichel. It was a moment that Derby supporters would never forget and was actually voted the greatest goal in the club’s history during their 125th anniversary celebrations.

Part of an impressive attacking line-up under Jim Smith’s tenure at Derby, Wanchope combined brilliantly with the likes of Dean Sturridge, Stefano Eranio and Francesco Baiano. He scored another 21 Premier League goals for the club, including a goal to send Arsenal to their first defeat of their 1997-1998 title-winning campaign.

In July 1999, Derby decided to cash in on Wanchope as his form had started to dip in the final months of the previous season. He joined West Ham United for £3.5 million and formed a formidable partnership with the charismatic Paolo di Canio. Between them, they scored 31 times in the Premier League as West Ham United finished ninth. In 1999-2000, Wanchope scored 12 league goals but the Hammers faithful never quite took to him as the supporters did at Derby.

When Freddie Kanoute and Davor Sukur both arrived at Upton Park in the summer of 2000, Wanchope was sold to newly-promoted Manchester City for £3.65 million and made a swift impression for his new side, scoring a hat-trick in their 4-2 victory over Sunderland. This was in Manchester City’s first top-flight game at Maine Road in over four years. He added another six goals but couldn’t prevent Joe Royle’s side slipping out of the top-flight after just a single season back amongst the elite.

He stayed with the Citizens in the First Division and despite injury setbacks; he scored 12 times in just 15 appearances to help them to the title and an immediate return to the Premier League. Unfortunately, a knee injury was now hurting his career. He spent the entire 2002-2003 season on the treatment table and was a bit-part player on his return with Kevin Keegan having the services of Nicolas Anelka and Robbie Fowler on his books.

Nevertheless, Wanchope still scored six times in 2003-2004, including a crucial winning goal at home to Newcastle United that effectively kept the club in the Premier League after severe threats against relegation. He moved to La Liga in the summer of 2004, signing for Malaga. Further spells came in Qatar, Japan and the United States before retiring in November 2007, citing his knee problems as the decisive factor in not being able to demonstrate his best form.

He moved into coaching and even had a spell as national team manager of Costa Rica but resigned in 2015 after video footage emerged of him hitting a match steward.

When fit, Paulo Wanchope had an excellent goalscoring pedigree and Derby County supporters will never forget that incredible debut bow in April 1997 at Old Trafford.

Great Goals: Steve Froggatt – COVENTRY CITY vs. Everton (November 1998)

Not usually a regular goalscorer, Steve Froggatt produced a memorable strike at home to Everton in November 1998. The ex-Aston Villa player was impressing with his consistently strong displays for Coventry City in the early weeks of the 1998-1999 campaign. His form was so good; Glenn Hoddle was considering calling him up for the next England squad before his own sacking in February 1999.

Midway through the first half, he collected possession and went on an advancing forward run. The Everton players back off, tempting him to have a shot from distance. They paid the ultimate penalty. Froggatt launched a spectacular drive that flew into the top corner of the net. It was his first goal for Coventry and quite probably the greatest goal of his career. Coventry would record an impressive 3-0 victory.

The strike was voted the Premier League Goal of the Season for 1998-1999 by Sky Sports viewers.

Memorable Matches: Manchester United 4-2 Blackpool (May 2011)

Goalscorers: Ji-Sung Park 21, Charlie Adam 40, Gary Taylor-Fletcher 57, Anderson 62, Ian Evatt 74 OG, Michael Owen 81

Teams:

Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar, Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Rafael (Chris Smalling 46), Nemanja Vidic (Wayne Rooney 84), Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes, Nani, Ji-Sung Park (Michael Owen 63), Dimitar Berbatov

Blackpool: Matt Gilks, Stephen Crainey, Ian Evatt, Alex Baptiste, Neal Eardley, Keith Southern (Brett Ormerod 86), David Vaughan, Charlie Adam, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Jason Puncheon (Luke Varney 75), DJ Campbell (Matt Phillips 75)

Referee: Mike Dean, Attendance: 75,400

Blackpool had been an exciting side to watch in the 2010-2011 Premier League season. Ian Holloway’s side had beaten Liverpool FC twice and Tottenham Hotspur during their rollercoaster season and began the final day of the campaign outside of the bottom three. Despite their destiny being in their own hands, that meant the Tangerines’ probably needed to get some kind of result at Manchester United. It was a party atmosphere at Old Trafford.  A week earlier, Manchester United had become the most successful club in English football history, wrapping up their 19th league title to overtake Liverpool’s record. Blackpool respectfully gave the newly-crowned champions a guard of honour before the sides did battle in an end-to-end contest.

Both sides had chances in the first 20 minutes. Keith Southern had the first opportunity of the match but side-footed wide of goal whilst Matt Gilks had to repel efforts from Rafael and Dimitar Berbatov. However, he couldn’t stop Ji-Sung Park giving the home side the lead. A misunderstanding between the goalkeeper and Ian Evatt allowed the South Korean in, who calmly dinked the ball over Gilks to put Blackpool into the relegation zone.

All season, Holloway’s instinct had been to attack opponents and he was not going to change this tactic on the final day. It earned some reward five minutes shy of half-time. Gary Taylor-Fletcher won a free-kick after a clumsy tackle from Nemanja Vidic. Free-kick specialist Charlie Adam placed his effort perfectly beyond Edwin van der Sar, who was making his final Premier League appearance before retirement.

Blackpool did the unthinkable 12 minutes into the second half and took the lead at the Theatre of Dreams. Neat build-up involving Jason Puncheon and David Vaughan saw the Welshman’s cross deftly placed into the back of the net by the excellent Taylor-Fletcher. The away supporters were now beginning to dream. Blackpool were half an hour away from staying up in the top-flight.

Their lead lasted just five minutes though. Park found an unmarked Anderson who curled a strike into the top corner. Blackpool were now only staying up on goal difference. A more catastrophic moment would occur on 74 minutes. Substitute Chris Smalling’s cross was diverted into his own net by the unfortunate Evatt. The expressions on the faces of fans and manager said it all. With eight minutes left, Anderson’s sliding pass found an onside Michael Owen. He made no mistake to send Blackpool towards the Championship exactly a year to the day when they were promoted via the play-offs.

Holloway’s team had made many friends along the way but ultimately, their energetic season ended in disappointment as they went down on the final day along with Birmingham City. For United, they could celebrate another title-winning moment on an afternoon of contrasting emotions.

Memorable Matches: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-3 Blackburn Rovers (May 2011)

Goalscorer: Jason Roberts 22, Brett Emerton 38, Junior Hoilett 45, Jamie O’Hara 73, Stephen Hunt 87

Teams:

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wayne Hennessey, Jody Craddock, George Elokobi, Kevin Foley, Michael Mancienne (Sylvan Ebanks-Blake 46), Stephen Ward, Karl Henry (Adlene Guedioura 85), Jamie O’Hara, Stephen Hunt, Matt Jarvis, Steven Fletcher (Christophe Berra 90)

Blackburn Rovers: Paul Robinson, Gael Givet, Phil Jones, Christopher Samba, Michel Salgado, Jermaine Jonas, Steven N’Zonzi, Martin Olsson, Brett Emerton, Junior Hoilett (Morten Gamst Pedersen 79), Jason Roberts

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 29,009

‘Survival Sunday’ in 2011 was going to be a tense one for five clubs. Wigan Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackpool, Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers went into the final day of the season still not safe. It was going to be a remarkable afternoon full of twists and turns.

Two of these sides met at Molineux as Wolves hosted Blackburn. A point would be enough for Blackburn to survive, whilst Wolves really needed the three points as teams below had fixtures that they could easily win. Mick McCarthy’s side came into the match in good form, having beaten West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland in their previous two games, whilst Blackburn, who were sitting seventh in mid-January, had been dragged into the relegation scrap in the season’s closing months.

Steve Kean was a man under pressure. Not wanted by many of the club’s fans after the shock sacking of Sam Allardyce in December 2010, Kean needed his side to deliver a perfect performance and they were sensational in the opening 45 minutes. Their display just added to the nail-biting tension of the afternoon.

Rovers settled quicker and took the lead after 22 minutes. Michel Salgado, a former UEFA Champions League winner with Real Madrid, fired a shot across the face of goal which was turned into the back of the net by Jason Roberts. That lead was doubled 16 minutes later with the direct approach working for the ex-Premier League champions. Paul Robinson’s kick was only partially cleared by Jody Craddock. Brett Emerton took aim from distance and his strike flew into the back of the net. It was Wolves who were sinking towards the Championship by the interval. The dangerous Junior Hoillett skipped past tame challenges from Craddock and George Elokobi. Once again, Wayne Hennessey was left with no chance whatsoever and at half-time, Wolves were in big trouble.

They had to improve on their dreadful showing in the first 45 minutes and they did improve. With 18 minutes remaining. Stephen Hunt rolled a free-kick back to Jamie O’Hara and the Tottenham loanee managed to find the corner of the net from 20-yards out. However, the situation was constantly changing. Wigan took the lead away at Stoke and when Craig Gardner equalised for Birmingham at White Hart Lane, Wolves were going down on goals scored. They needed one more goal, even in defeat to survive.

It came dramatically with just three minutes of normal time remaining. Hunt received the ball on the edge of the penalty area and bent a riveting shot into the top corner of the net and send Molineux into ecstasy. Even though they were still losing on the day, it looked like they’d done enough. There were celebrations at the full-time whistle from both sets of supporters. Blackburn had got the result, Wolves the goal required to keep them up and everyone inside the ground was happy. Ultimately, it was Birmingham and Blackpool who would feel the pain of relegation on a see-saw afternoon of drama.

Premier League Files: Gheorghe Popescu

Premier League Career: Tottenham Hotspur (1994-1995)

A former captain of Barcelona, Gheorghe Popescu was one of the key players from the bright Romania team that was one of the most thrilling international sides to watch in the 1990s. The brother-in-law of fellow Romanian great Gheorghe Hagi, Popescu featured in several top European leagues, including Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga.

He only had one season in the Premier League but it was an impressive campaign in north London with Tottenham Hotspur. Plus, he will always have a positive spot in the hearts of Tottenham fans for scoring a winning goal in a North London Derby.

Before his Tottenham spell, Popescu had reached the semi-finals of the European Cup with Steaua Bucharest in 1988 at a time when Romanian clubs enjoyed greater success in European competition. He was signed by Sir Bobby Robson in 1990 for PSV Eindhoven and spent four years of largely qualified success in Dutch football.

After his excellent performances at the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, he was signed by Tottenham’s flamboyant manager, Ossie Ardiles in September of that year for £2.9 million. Ardiles was known for his attacking flair and his lack of defending principles. However, Popescu’s signing was seen as a potential change in his thinking. His experience and tactical knowledge would see him operate mainly in a defensive midfield role, shielding central defenders Colin Calderwood and Sol Campbell.

On New Years’ Day 1995, Popescu scored the only goal as Tottenham beat Arsenal 1-0 at White Hart Lane. By now, Gerry Francis had succeeded Ardiles as manager and he helped maximise the potential of Popescu, who added another two further strikes as Tottenham finished seventh and above the Gunners in the table for the last time until the 2016-2017 campaign.

The lure of Barcelona though was too much for Popescu and he moved for £3 million in the summer of 1995 to replace the ageing Ronald Koeman in the team. He was reunited again with Robson, who made him his captain and helped Barcelona to a Copa del Rey and Cup Winners’ Cup double in 1997.

Deemed surplus to requirements by Louis van Gaal, Popescu’s next move was to Galatasaray. He spent four years in Istanbul, winning more trophies and the UEFA Cup in 2000, when Galatasaray defeated Arsenal in a penalty shootout. Further spells followed with Leece in Italy and an eight-game stint with Dinamo Bucharest in his homeland. He retired in 2003 after one season in the Bundesliga with Hannover 96.

He won the Romanian Footballer of the Year award six times and won over 100 international caps for his country.

However, in 2014, Popescu was sentenced to a three-year sentence in jail after being found guilty of tax evasion and money laundering in connection with the transfers of football players from Romania to other countries. At the time, he was the favourite to become the next president of the Romanian FA.

It was an unsavoury conclusion to a life in football which made him an idol in his home country and a key figure for some of Europe’s most senior clubs.

Premier League Rewind: 25th-27th October 2014

Results: West Ham United 2-1 Manchester City, Liverpool FC 0-0 Hull City, Southampton 1-0 Stoke City, Sunderland 0-2 Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Crystal Palace, Swansea City 2-0 Leicester City, Burnley 1-3 Everton, Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Newcastle United, Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Aston Villa

Nine games into the 2014-2015 season and Chelsea were in pole position to regain the Premier League title from Manchester City. The Blues were still undefeated in the campaign and looking tough to catch for the chasing pack.

On the 25th-27th October weekend, Jose Mourinho took his team to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. It was a first meeting between Mourinho and Louis van Gaal since the 2010 UEFA Champions League final. There was plenty of mutual respect between the managers in the build-up to this clash but it looked like Mourinho would have the final say. Didier Drogba headed the visitors infront and it looked like the league leaders would hold onto a 1-0 lead at full-time. However, with moments remaining, Manchester United won a free-kick which led to the late dismissal of Branislav Ivanovic. From the resultant set-piece, Robin van Persie thrashed home an equaliser to ensure Chelsea dropped points for only the second time this season.

Their lead over the Red Devils was still a healthy 10 points. Worse still for Van Gaal, his team had won just three from nine matches so far and were languishing in eighth spot in the table. Chelsea’s nearest pursuers were Southampton. They regained second position after Sadio Mane’s goal was enough to beat Stoke City 1-0.

They replaced Manchester City in the top two after the reigning champions fell to a 2-1 defeat away at West Ham United. It was their second league loss of the season. The decisive goal ultimately came from Diafra Sakho, who scored in his sixth successive Premier League match for the club. Despite a wonderful strike from David Silva, City left Upton Park empty-handed and West Ham climbed into the top four much to the delight of Russell Brand. The Hammers’ fan interrupted a post-match interview to congratulate manager Sam Allardyce.

After their 8-0 mauling a week earlier to Southampton, Sunderland’s woes continued. At home to Arsenal, Vito Mannone made two terrible mistakes, allowing Alexis Sanchez to score twice and allow the visitors to leave with all three points in a 2-0 victory. In fact, just six points covered West Ham in fourth position to Aston Villa in 15th. Villa’s fifth successive defeat came on Monday Night Football, losing 2-0 to Queens Park Rangers. Charlie Austin scored a double which was enough to lift QPR off the foot of the Premier League table. Aston Villa had now failed to score in over 500 minutes of Premier League football. Another team struggling were Leicester City. They were now without a win in four games after losing 2-0 to Swansea City.

QPR were replaced at the bottom of the table by Burnley, who lost 3-1 at home to Everton. Veteran forward Samuel Eto’o scored twice for Everton who moved into the top half with back-to-back victories. Sunderland dropped into the bottom three at the expense of their Tyne & Wear rivals, Newcastle United. Having not won any of their first seven games, the Magpies were about to embark on a five-match winning sequence. The second of these came at White Hart Lane, defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1.

What else happened in October 2014?

  • UKIP receives its first MP when Douglas Carswell, who defected to the party from the Conservatives, wins the by-election in Clacton.
  • The SNP confirms Nicola Sturgeon will succeed Alex Salmond as leader of the party after she was the only candidate in a leadership ballot.
  • Johann Lamont resigns as leader of the Scottish Labour Party with immediate effect.
  • Nancy Birtwhistle wins the fifth series of “The Great British Bake Off.”
  • Racing driver Jules Bianchi is left with life-threatening injuries after spinning off and hitting a recovery truck during the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. He will succumb to those injuries in July 2015.
  • EastEnders confirms omnibus editions of the soap from April 2015 will be stopped because of declining viewing figures.
  • IF Elfsborg manager and former Sheffield Wednesday player Klas Ingesson dies at the age of just 46 from the effects of multiple myeloma.

Referees in the Middle: Steve Dunn

Premier League Career: 1995-2005

First Premier League Match: Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Aston Villa (23 August 1995)

Final Premier League Match: Fulham 6-0 Norwich City (15 May 2005)

In May 2005, Steve Dunn took charge of his 199th and final Premier League match. It was an afternoon Norwich City supporters would rather forget, as they went down 6-0 at Craven Cottage to Fulham to ensure their relegation from the top-flight.

Dunn would fall just one game short of the magical 200 number. Injury meant he missed the entire 2005-2006 campaign which led to a premature retirement. From Bristol, Mr. Dunn had started refereeing local matches in 1978. He progressed through the ranks and became a linesman in the Football League in 1986. He spent six years running the line before becoming a Football League referee in 1992.

In 1995, he joined the list of Premier League officials and made his debut in the first midweek round of matches, at the same time his colleague Jeff Winter made his top-flight bow. Ugo Ehiogu scored the only goal as Aston Villa won away at Tottenham Hotspur 1-0. His first red card came in January 1996, dismissing Wimbledon’s Mick Harford in a tasty London derby between Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers. Wimbledon won 2-1 in a match that saw a staggering 10 yellow cards.

603 yellow cards were given out by Dunn during his Premier League career but only 19 red cards, which shows that he did all he could to ensure 22 players finished on the field of play by the full-time whistle. His last red card was actually rescinded by the FA. El-Hadji Diouf was sent off after a silly tangle with Adrian Mutu in a match between Chelsea and Liverpool FC in January 2004 but after Liverpool appealed the decision, it was overturned.

Steve Dunn reached the FIFA list of referees in 1997 and completed six years at this level. He became the first English official to achieve the “double” of appearing on FIFA referees and assistants’ lists. This was a feat that was later matched by fellow colleagues Matt Messias, Steve Bennett and Graham Barber.

His highest-profile appointment came in the 2001 FA Cup final which was the first to be played in Wales. Arsenal dominated but were beaten 2-1 by Liverpool FC as Michael Owen scored twice in the last 10 minutes to ensure the Reds claimed their second trophy of the season. Arsenal fans could complain about a blatant handball on the goal-line in the first half by Stephane Henchoz which was missed by the officials.

He would go onto referee League Cup semi-finals in both 2002 and 2004. His last professional match was West Ham United’s 2-0 win against Ipswich Town in the 2005 Championship play-off semi-final 2nd leg with both goals coming from Bobby Zamora.

Premier League Files: Dane Whitehouse

Premier League Career: Sheffield United (1992-1994)

Dane Whitehouse was a one-club man throughout his career. He figured for Sheffield United in the very first two seasons of Premier League football and continued to play for them until 1997. A committed left-winger, Whitehouse also filled in regularly at left-back and often gave sterling performances.

He signed professionally for the Yorkshire side in July 1987 and a year later, made his professional debut against Blackpool aged just 18. It wasn’t until the 1991-1992 season that Whitehouse became a regular figure in the starting XI at Bramwall Lane. He scored three goals that season in the FA Cup. Unfortunately, injuries restricted him to just 14 appearances in the very first season of the Premier League. His debut came in a win over Liverpool FC in September 1992 and he still scored five goals, including a double on the final day in a 4-2 victory against Chelsea.

Despite collecting 10 yellow cards in 1993-1994, Whitehouse was one of the Blades’ key players that season. He only missed four league matches, scoring five times including in a crucial win against relegation rivals Oldham Athletic. In March 1994, Dane struck a genuine contender for Goal of the Season against West Ham United. Trailing 2-0 early on in a game they needed to win to stay in touch with the other relegation scrappers, the ball dropped to Whitehouse outside the penalty area. He launched a blistering drive that flew into the net from nearly 30-yards out. Sadly, that was to be his last goal at this level. An agonising 3-2 loss to Chelsea on the final day sent Sheffield United crashing out of the Premier League as results went against them.

Although several Premier League sides were interested in recruiting Whitehouse, he stayed loyal to the team he had supported from birth. In November 1997, Whitehouse’s career came to a shuddering halt against Port Vale. He was victim to a crude challenge from Gareth Ainsworth which left him with a serious knee injury. Despite attempting to regain full fitness, he had to admit defeat in his battle to return to the pitch and retired at the start of the millennium. Ainsworth has since admitted: “I sent him a letter when I knew it was a serious injury. There was no reply. Obviously, I do feel bad it was me in the tackle. But you never mean to end anyone’s career.”

Shock Results: Chelsea 0-1 AFC Bournemouth (December 2015)

Goalscorers: Glenn Murray 82

Teams:

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Abdul Baba Rahman (Bertrand Traore 83), Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Kurt Zouma, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas (Loic Remy 83), Oscar (Diego Costa 45), Willian, Eden Hazard, Pedro

AFC Bournemouth: Artur Boruc, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis, Adam Smith, Harry Arter, Dan Gosling, Andrew Surman, Matt Ritchie, Junior Stanislas, Josh King (Glenn Murray 80)

Referee: Mike Jones, Attendance: 41,631

Having cruised to the title in 2014-2015, Chelsea were making a real mess of their title defence. They had already suffered seven defeats and went into this game sitting in a lowly 14th place in the table, having amassed just 15 points from their first 14 matches.

Jose Mourinho’s side had at least tightened up defensively ahead of the visit of newly-promoted AFC Bournemouth. They’d gone 306 minutes without conceding in all competitions. Bournemouth had shown great resilience in coming from behind twice to take a point off Everton in their last match. However, Eddie Howe’s side were in the drop zone and without a league win since September.

Mourinho had controversially left Diego Costa out of his starting line-up for the trip to Tottenham Hotspur a week earlier and he kept the Spaniard on the bench for this one too, electing to play the out-of-form Eden Hazard in a ‘false no.9’ position. However, the home side offered very little in the first half and Costa was therefore summoned from the bench at the interval.

Bournemouth could have been ahead before half-time, as Josh King was denied on no fewer than three occasions by the returning Thibaut Courtois, who was back in the team after three months out through injury. Costa’s impact was almost immediate on his arrival. First, he narrowly missed making contact on a vicious cross from Branislav Ivanovic. Next, the temperamental Spaniard had an effort blocked by visiting goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Then, he claimed for a penalty when his cross was blocked by the recovering Simon Francis with his arm. As it wasn’t a natural movement, his protests fell on deaf ears and Mike Jones waved play on.

Bournemouth looked comfortable throughout, driven on by Harry Arter, who was immense in central midfield. He managed to take control of the game, neutralising any dangerous threat that might have been posed by Cesc Fabregas. Sensing there might be an opportunity to take more than a point back to the south coast; Howe threw on his summer signing Glenn Murray with 10 minutes left to play. 99 seconds later, he had made the decisive impact.

Junior Stanislas produced a wonderful corner which Courtois flapped at, under pressure from Dan Gosling. Steve Cook stabbed the ball back across the face of the goal and Murray beat his teammate Charlie Daniels to the crucial contact, heading the ball into the back of the net and sending the away supporters into ecstasy. There were doubts about whether Murray was offside when he connected with Cook’s pass but the goal counted.

Bournemouth comfortably saw out the final 10 minutes to record one of the greatest results in the club’s history. They finished 16th whilst Chelsea recovered from this defeat to scrape into the top 10. However, it would be without Jose Mourinho. He was sacked less than a fortnight after this shock defeat – Chelsea’s first at home to a newly-promoted side since Charlton Athletic won in April 2001.