Category Archives: Iconic Moments

Iconic Moments: Temuri’s Mad Celebration (January 1998)

Nowadays, Georgian Temuri Ketsbaia is a manager who has guided Anorthosis to two Cypriot titles and also had spells in charge of AEK Athens and APOEL Nicosia. In his playing days, he is remembered for one thing and one thing only – that mad celebration after scoring for Newcastle United in a Premier League match in January 1998.

Ketsbaia arrived at Newcastle United in the summer of 1997. Already an established international footballer for his country, he ran down his contract with AEK to earn his move to Tyneside. The early signs were good. He scored the goal against Croatia Zagreb in the qualifiers to earn Newcastle their maiden adventure into the UEFA Champions League group stages for the 1997-1998 campaign.

Considered as a cult hero by many of the club’s supporters, Ketsbaia’s early career didn’t quite take off. So he decided rather than requesting a transfer or arguing with the manager Kenny Dalglish, he would become memorable for something completely unique. Newcastle were playing Bolton Wanderers at St James’ Park and the score was level at 1-1.

In the last minute, the ball bobbled around in the Bolton penalty area after a knockdown from the returning Alan Shearer. The defenders couldn’t clear the danger and Ketsbaia ran onto the rebound and smashed the ball home to win the match for Newcastle. Afterwards, he ripped his shirt off and started kicking the living daylights out of an advertising hoarding! Teammate Alessandro Pistone tried to restrain him but there was no stopping Ketsbaia. He would not stop in getting his point across. The main reason for this was his sheer frustration at not being selected regularly in the team.

Ketsbaia spent three seasons at the club and when he was manager of Georgia, revealed his fondness for British football. He added: “I had a fantastic time. My time in British football was my best time as a football player. The atmosphere, the pitches, everything is at a high level – that’s the reason that everybody wants to go and play in England. I have many good things to remember, not only kicking the boards!”

Iconic Moments: A post is crowned Man of the Match! (December 2016)

West Ham United were struggling to settle into their new home of the London Stadium. Although they did win their first match at the ground against AFC Bournemouth, the Hammers’ had only followed that up with nervy wins over Sunderland and Burnley. In December 2016, struggling Hull City were the latest visitors’ to the stadium in Stratford.

Hull outplayed their opponents throughout and only the goal frame denied them taking the lead on three separate occasions. Mark Noble headed an effort against his own crossbar, whilst Andrew Robertson and Dieumerci Mbokani saw efforts also hit the post. Hull had 16 shots on-goal but somehow failed to score. They ultimately lost the game too. A controversial penalty awarded for a challenge on Michail Antonio was converted by the reliable Noble. West Ham won 1-0 but the fans were unimpressed with the performance.

On Twitter, the club asked fans to vote for their Man of the Match. The winner was ‘The Post,’ taking the award with 57 per cent of the vote. They had made their feelings clear.

West Ham’s home form never really improved, although they did enjoy a 1-0 victory over title-chasing Tottenham Hotspur in May 2017. They will be hoping for better in 2017-2018 and no more victories for the ‘The Post’ when it comes to their Man of the Match award.

Iconic Moments: A Fratton thriller (September 2007)

On the face of it, Portsmouth vs. Reading in September 2007 didn’t sound like a very exciting game to the neutral. However, these sides put on a real thriller at Fratton Park. They still hold the record for the most goals scored in a Premier League match of 11.

There were nine different scorers in the match. The exception was Benjani. Portsmouth’s forward, who couldn’t find the back of the net in his early period with the club, hit the jackpot. The Zimbabwean scored a hat-trick although the goalkeeping from Marcus Hahnemann was not the best on the day.

For the record, the other scorers were Stephen Hunt, Dave Kitson, Hermann Hreidarsson, Niko Kranjcar, Shane Long, Sulley Muntari from the penalty spot and two own goals by Ivar Ingimarsson and Sol Campbell. Portsmouth won the game 7-4 and David James saved a penalty from Nicky Shorey.

Reading boss Steve Coppell tried to put a positive spin on events afterwards, commenting: “It’s difficult to analyse a match like that and if you try you will be there a very long time…we scored four goals away from home and had a chance for another with a penalty. We played a full part in the game – I don’t think many teams will come here this season and score four.” 

Portsmouth would record their best Premier League finish of eighth and won the FA Cup at the end of the season. Reading were relegated on the final day of the campaign.

Whilst the defending by both teams was horrendous, this still goes down as an unforgettable contest in the Premier League archives.

Iconic Moments: Saints thrash Black Cats (October 2014)

Sunderland arrived on the south coast in October 2014 boosted from their first Premier League win of the season a fortnight earlier at home to Stoke City. What happened next went down as one of their worst days in Premier League history. They left humiliated, shell-shocked and embarrassed as Southampton routed the Black Cats 8-0.

The writing was on the wall from an early stage. Saints took the lead through a nightmare for Santiago Vergini. The hapless full-back managed to smash the ball into his own net from 20-yards out. The reaction from his fellow defenders afterwards spoke volumes.

Sunderland were 3-0 down by the interval as the home side’s attackers had a field day. Graziano Pelle scored twice, there were two further own goals and midfielders Dusan Tadic, Jack Cork and Victor Wanyama all managed to get on the scoresheet too. Southampton had 11 shots on target in the game and eight of them found the back of the net.

It was Sunderland’s biggest defeat in 32 years. Manager Gus Poyet was understandably fuming afterwards, admitting: “It is the most embarrassing game I have ever been involved in.”

Things didn’t improve much at the Stadium of Light as the season progressed. Poyet was axed in March after a 4-0 loss at home to Aston Villa and Dick Advocaat somehow managed to galvanize the players to beat the Premier League drop again.

However, some of the Sunderland players who featured on this day have had to deal with being on the end of one of the Premier League’s most one-sided games in the last quarter of a century.

Iconic Moments: The craziest deadline day (January 2011)

Transfer deadline day has become a nationwide event for football fans since the introduction of the August and January transfer windows from the 2002-2003 season onwards. There have been some intriguing days like Arsenal’s signing of Mesut Ozil in August 2013 and Dimitar Berbatov’s last-gasp switch to Manchester United five seasons earlier.

But there were fewer mad days in the transfer market than the one that played out on Monday, 31 January 2011. Over £100 million was spent on three strikers, with Liverpool FC, Chelsea and Newcastle United playing the leading roles.

There was a big departure from Anfield. Star striker of the past three and a half years, Fernando Torres decided to leave the club. Days earlier, the Spaniard had handed in a transfer request which was initially rejected. Eventually, a deal was agreed that saw Torres move to Chelsea for a British transfer record fee at the time of £50 million. A lot of LFC fans were very upset by Torres’ comments in the aftermath of the deal going through. Shirts were burned outside the ground as their former idol had moved on, saying “This is the target for every footballer – to try to play for one of the top clubs in the world.” 

Although he did go on to win the silverware he craved such as the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in 2012, Torres never fully settled at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool fans never really forgave him until an appearance at Steven Gerrard’s testimonial three seasons later. He is now back in Spain playing for his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid.

That wasn’t the only business conducted at Chelsea. Brazilian defender David Luiz arrived from Benfica for £26.5 million and not the end of the drama either at Liverpool. As El Nino checked out of Merseyside, the Reds were busy pulling off their own double striker swoop.

£22.8 million was paid to Ajax for the controversial but exceptionally talented Luis Suarez and £35 million was exchanged with Newcastle for Andy Carroll – a club record fee. Like Torres, the transfer fee seemed to weigh too much on Carroll. His 18-month spell was an unhappy one and he eventually moved onto West Ham United in August 2012. On the other hand, Suarez lit up Anfield with many spectacular performances. Despite racism and biting controversies which led to suspensions totalling 19 matches, his spectacular goals nearly guided the club to a Premier League title in 2014 before departing for Barcelona in a £75 million transfer.

Other moves saw Birmingham sign Obafemi Martins on-loan, Bolton add Daniel Sturridge to their ranks from Chelsea, Tuncay depart Stoke City for the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg and Blackpool add four players to their relegation scrap. Charlie Adam stayed put despite a late bid from Tottenham Hotspur.

In total, Premier League clubs spent over £200 million in the 2011 January window and deadline day in this window remains the craziest and probably best window of this era of transactions in football.

Iconic Moments: Wenger marks two decades (October 2016)

In September 1996, Arsenal confirmed the appointment of the relatively unknown Frenchman Arsene Wenger as their new manager. Wenger had guided AS Monaco to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in 1994 but had most recently spent time coaching in the Japanese J-League.

It is fair to say there were plenty of sceptics about the appointment but he is still going strong two decades on. Possibly slightly less fresh-faced when he took the dugout for the first time at Ewood Park on 12 October 1996 but Wenger’s legacy at Arsenal and the Premier League should not be tarnished.

He revolutionised the Gunners. Training methods improved, stricter and better diet regimes were brought in under his guidance and the way football was played by the club even changed. Gone was the ‘1-0 to the Arsenal tag.’ In his first full season with the club (1997-1998), they won the league and cup double. In the process, Wenger became the first foreign manager to lift the Premier League prize.

Another double followed four seasons later when Arsenal scored in every single Premier League game and went through the entire campaign undefeated away from Highbury. Even better came in 2003-2004 when they went through the whole season unbeaten. ‘The Invincibles’ of 2004 has to be considered as one of the greatest teams to have played the English game.

Trophies have dried out since and criticism is often aimed in Wenger’s direction over his reluctance to sign players in the transfer market but he also oversaw the club’s move to the Emirates Stadium. Before finishing fifth in 2016-2017, he managed to get the Londoners into the top four for the previous 20 seasons. It was a remarkable achievement in a period where Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool FC all had spells outside the top six, let alone top four.

In October 2016, Wenger celebrated 20 years as Arsenal manager with a scrappy 1-0 away win at Burnley, courtesy of a stoppage-time goal from Laurent Koscielny. He left Turf Moor with a huge smile on his face and at the end of the season, ended with a record seventh FA Cup victory, defeating champions Chelsea in the final. Four days later, it was confirmed that he has signed a two-year contract extension to remain Arsenal manager after a season where supporters’ loyalty towards the Frenchman was definitely split.

Supporters of the club have to step back and think where they would be if Arsene Wenger hadn’t taken over. His time will eventually end at some point but we will never see the likes of this unflappable Frenchman again – nor his longevity in the game.

Iconic Moments: The Sky Sports sexism scandal (January 2011)

The Premier League and Sky Sports has been united together over the past quarter of a century but the main live broadcaster was thrown into the limelight for the wrong reasons in January 2011. Off-air recordings and leaked videos of inappropriate comments about a number of females in football meant the end of the line for long-standing presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray.

It began on a normal Saturday lunchtime with Liverpool FC recording a comfortable 3-0 away victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers. It was the first victory in the second reign of management at the club for Kenny Dalglish. Fernando Torres scored his final two goals for the club and there was a cracking strike from Raul Meireles. Just over 36 hours later, the press got hold of a much bigger story.

A tape recording was leaked to the national media which had Keys and Gray make derogatory comments about women not understanding the offside rule and sexism in football. These were aimed at female line assistant Sian Massey-Ellis and West Ham United board member Karen Brady. The pair were suspended from covering a Monday Night Football game whilst an investigation was launched.

Further damming video revelations were leaked in the days afterwards. They included more offensive comments made to Sky female presenter Charlotte Jackson and pundit Jamie Redknapp. The videos were embarrassing for all concerned.

Sky sacked Andy Gray and Keys resigned 24 hours later. Radio station talkSPORT would hire the pair to host a new radio talk show just three weeks later. They’ve now moved to the Middle East to cover action with beIN Sports. The outspoken Keys has insisted constantly since that “it was just banter” and that “dark forces were at play.”

Either way, it was a dramatic fall from grace for the pair having anchored the Premier League on Sky Sports for its first 19 seasons.

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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.

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.