Tag Archives: 1994

Iconic Moments: Jensen scores…at last! (December 1994)

Arsenal midfielder John Jensen developed a cult reputation. He joined the club only weeks after his spectacular goal in the 1992 European Championship final playing for Denmark. He was seen as a replacement for the popular David Rocastle, who was moving to reigning champions Leeds United.

Although he won the FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup whilst at Highbury, he became more known for his inability to find the back of the net. 97 games and over two years had passed before Arsenal hosted Queens Park Rangers on a dreary New Years’ Eve afternoon. George Graham’s side hadn’t won at home in two months and his side put in a dire performance and lost the game comprehensively 3-1. However, QPR’s win is not remembered by many.

That is because in this match, the unthinkable happened. John Jensen scored a goal for Arsenal! It was the equaliser and it came in his 98th match in all competitions for the north Londoners. Whenever he got near goal, Arsenal fans urged him to ‘shoot!’ This time, he was spot-on, bending a shot into the far top corner in front of the North Bank.

T-shirts were printed in Jensen’s honour. One of the tabloid newspapers ran the following headline in their sports section: SOUVENIR SPECIAL: After 98 games, 2 years, 4 months, 2 weeks, 2 days, 1 hour and 19 minutes, JENSEN SCORES!

He left in 1996 to return to his native Denmark after 138 games but achieved cult hero status for this goal.

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The Managers: Mike Walker

Premier League Clubs Managed: Norwich City (1992-1994), Everton (1994)

Mike Walker turned 72 in late November 2017. He had a professional career that nearly spanned 700 games and is remembered fondly by Norwich City fans as one of their finest-ever managers. By contrast, Everton fans remember his 10-month reign at Goodison Park for all the wrong reasons. He is widely considered by many supporters on Merseyside as Everton’s worst boss.

During his playing days, Walker played as a goalkeeper and this was something that ran through his family. His son, Ian Walker would later be capped at international level by England and play in the Premier League in-goal for Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City. He most notably played for Colchester United, spending 10 seasons as their first-choice goalkeeper. He played 451 times for the club and also turned out in the Football League for Shrewsbury Town, York City, Watford and one appearance for Charlton Athletic.

Taking Norwich to the brink

The highlight was being a part of the Watford side that knocked out Bill Shankly’s mighty Liverpool FC outfit from the FA Cup in 1970. He saved a spot-kick too which endeared himself to many Everton fans. 24 years later, they wouldn’t be so endearing after his ghoulish Goodison reign.

Having ending his playing days with Colchester in 1983, his first managerial role came at the Essex club three years later. Colchester were top of the Fourth Division table in November 1987 and Walker had won 35 of his 79 games in charge, yet was mysteriously sacked by owner Jonathan Crisp to the amazement of everyone at Layer Road. He had just won Manager of the Month honours for the previous month too.

Norwich City were quick to snap Walker up following his shock exit from Colchester. He took charge of their youth team which was a role he would keep until 1992. He was promoted to take control of the first-team just two months before the start of the inaugural Premier League campaign. The Canaries were considered among the favourites for relegation but they continued to defy the odds all season. They beat the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Southampton in the season’s early weeks to top the table and they remained top of the pile at Christmas. Eventually, Manchester United and Aston Villa managed to wear the East Anglian club down but Norwich still finished a fabulous third, despite ending with a negative goal difference.

Walker was seen as one of the most promising managers in British football. His Norwich side were attack-minded, positive and never afraid to take teams on at their own game. It made them one of the most attractive sides in England. In October 1993, Norwich produced one of the biggest shocks in the history of the UEFA Cup. They stunned Bayern Munich in their own backyard to beat them 2-1 in the second round. They became the first English team to win at the Olympic Stadium. A draw back at Carrow Road was enough to see the Bundesliga heavyweights eliminated. They were edged out in the next round by the eventual winners of the competition that season, Inter Milan.

However, relations had soured between Walker and his owner Robert Chase. The manager wanted to take the club forward but couldn’t as Chase was more interested in cashing in on the most prized assets. With Ruel Fox on the verge of being sold to Newcastle United in January 1994, that was the final straw for Mike and he abruptly quit, taking over as Everton manager. Everton had been without a manager for a month before his arrival and they had to pay substantial compensation to Norwich for Walker’s services.

The nightmare of Merseyside

His first game was an exciting 6-2 victory over Swindon Town but it wouldn’t get much better than that. Everton were in the midst of a relegation battle and went into the final day of the season in the bottom three. They needed to beat Wimbledon and hope results went their way. It started disastrously with the Toffees 2-0 down inside 20 minutes but they produced a remarkable recovery to win 3-2. Results did go for the Merseysiders and they stayed up with Sheffield United going down instead.

Walker had signed Anders Limpar and in the summer of 1994, added Vinny Samways from Tottenham Hotspur and Nigerian Daniel Amokachi who had starred at the World Cup. However, fans were annoyed to see fan favourites Peter Beagrie and Tony Cottee discarded so easily. Everton fans were desperate to see the ‘Silver Fox’ as he was nicknamed succeed but his lack of defensive principles and refusal to change tactics would cost him his job.

Everton started 1994-1995 so poorly. They made their worst start to a league season in their proud history and were propping up the table. With four clubs going down that campaign, desperate action was required. A win did arrive at home to West Ham United in early November but the damage had already been done.

Three days after earning a gutsy 0-0 draw at his former club Norwich in a dire game of football, Walker was sacked. On leaving, he said he was “disappointed” and believed the club had “turned the corner.” He took charge of 35 league matches, losing over 50% of these games and winning just six times. It remains the worst reign of any Everton manager in terms of statistics since the end of World War II. After his dismissal, Everton would eventually survive and win the FA Cup under the guidance of Joe Royle.

None of the players would miss him. Mark Ward, who had been a senior figure before his arrival and was eventually banished to the reserves said in his autobiography: “He was a phoney from the start and, although he’d had an impressive 18 months at Norwich, I knew this job was just too big for him.”

With Norwich on a stiff decline, fans at the Norfolk club were very keen to see Walker come back to the club. They had been relegated by the time he was back at the helm in June 1996. He stayed with the Canaries for two seasons but couldn’t rediscover the winning formula from his first reign and left via mutual consent in April 1998 after they failed to return to the Premier League. Since leaving Norwich, Walker has had a spell managing in Cyprus for APOEL, where he resides to this day.

Iconic Moments: Everton escape the drop (May 1994)

On Saturday, 7 May 1994, Everton’s Premier League future looked in severe jeopardy. They began the day in the bottom three after a shocking campaign and faced the real prospect of being relegated to the Endsleigh League Division One.

On the final day, they faced Wimbledon at home. The Crazy Gang were the most in-form side in the division coming into the game, having won seven of their last nine matches. After 20 minutes, things looked very gloomy for the Toffees’ faithful. A Dean Holdsworth penalty and an own goal by Gary Ablett had the home side 2-0 down.

A lifeline was thrown by Graham Stuart’s own penalty in the 24th minute but at half-time, Everton were the only team of the strugglers to be losing. They were going down at this stage.

With nothing to lose, manager Mike Walker threw everything available to him off the bench. On 67 minutes, Barry Horne hit the goal of his life. The Welshman’s rocket into the top corner made it 2-2 and gave the supporters real belief of the great escape. With nine minutes left, ecstasy swept the ground.

Stuart played a fairly untidy one-two combination with Tony Cottee and the midfielder took a weak shot on which somehow squirmed past Hans Segers and into the net. This moment came under further scrutiny when the Dutchman became at the centre of match-fixing allegations less than a year later. In his autobiography, ‘The Final Score,’ his claim was: “He (Stuart) hit a shot that took a deflection off another player’s leg, so that made the ball change direction slightly. The pitch was uneven and the ball hit a bump and spun beyond my control as I dived.”

At the full-time whistle, fans ran onto the pitch in celebration. Everton’s win meant they were safe as long as the other teams they were fighting with all hadn’t won. None of them did. Sheffield United’s late loss at Stamford Bridge meant the Blades went down instead with Oldham Athletic and Swindon Town.

It wouldn’t be the only escape Everton would have against the drop in the 1990s on the final day either. This one was down to fighting spirit, luck and a very poor piece of goalkeeping.

Premier League Rewind: 15th-17th October 1994

Results: Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea, Aston Villa 1-1 Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers 3-2 Liverpool FC, Crystal Palace 0-1 Newcastle United, Everton 0-2 Coventry City, Leeds United 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City 4-3 Southampton, Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United, Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Manchester City, Ipswich Town 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest 3-1 Wimbledon

Whilst Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United were the two teams who would go on to dictate the destiny of the Premier League title in season 1994-1995, it wasn’t so clear who would be the team to beat in mid-October 1994. Kenny Dalglish and Alex Ferguson’s sides were in the chasing pack, but behind a couple of hot pacesetters.

Going into the weekend’s matches, Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest still held unbeaten records and these were maintained through contrasting fashions. Kevin Keegan’s Magpies’ had dropped just four points all season but their trip to Selhurst Park for a match with Crystal Palace wasn’t all about style and swagger. This time, it was about grit and determination to get all three points. They managed to achieve this with a minute to go. Palace defended brilliantly all day but Peter Beardsley produced a special effort to beat Nigel Martyn and ensure the visiting fans went home happy and still on top of the table.

Nottingham Forest had to wait until the Monday evening to respond. Frank Clark’s side were in live action on Sky Sports and played a Wimbledon side that had made a sluggish start to the season. Stan Collymore scored one of the goals of the season at the City Ground. Collecting possession from just inside the Wimbledon half, the striker went on a mazy run and as the space opened up, went for goal. The shot flew past Hans Segers as Forest went on to record a 3-1 victory and maintain their impressive start on their Premier League return.

The two sides that Dalglish cared about the most in English football clashed at Ewood Park and Blackburn Rovers prevailed in a five-goal thriller with Liverpool FC. John Barnes might have scored the goal of the weekend with a stunning acrobatic kick that rolled back the years to his prime days. It wasn’t enough though for the visitors’ to grab a share of the spoils. Two goals from Chris Sutton ensured Dalglish’s current side beat his old employers 3-2.

Liverpool FC stayed in the top four but the nightmare continued across Merseyside for Everton. Still without a win and the pressure continued to mount on the beleaguered Mike Walker. New signings Duncan Ferguson and Ian Durrant played at home to Coventry City but made little impact on the contest. Dion Dublin was among the scorers in an easy 2-0 win for Coventry. Walker insisted he wasn’t under pressure from the board afterwards but his time was almost up in the Goodison Park hotseat.

Another side that had been struggling were Leicester City but the newly-promoted Foxes’ achieved a second victory of the term in an entertaining 4-3 triumph at home to Southampton. Franz Carr scored the goal of the match as Brian Little’s side held off a late fightback from their opponents to claim all three points. It would be the last victory Little achieved with Leicester. He would walk out on the club five weeks later to take over at Midlands’ rivals Aston Villa.

Elsewhere, Arsenal beat Chelsea 3-1 in a London derby, Manchester United sneaked past West Ham United through an Eric Cantona goal and David Hirst scored an 89th minute winner as Sheffield Wednesday beat Ipswich Town 2-1 on Super Sunday despite a late red card for Des Walker.

What else happened in October 1994?

  • Fernando Henrique Cardoso is elected president of Brazil.
  • Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in keeping peace in the Middle East.
  • The USA defeats Europe 13-7 in the Solheim Cup.
  • BSkyB launch two new channels; Sky Soap and Sky Travel.
  • The conclusion of the Sharongate storyline in EastEnders as Grant finds out Sharon has been having an affair with his brother, Phil. An estimated 25.3 million watch the drama unfold.
  • Former Academy Award winner Martha Raye dies in Los Angeles aged 78.
  • Two trains crash head-on in heavy fog in Kent after a driver passes a red signal. Five are killed and 13 injured.