Tag Archives: Derby County

Premier League Rewind: 7th-8th November 1998

Results: Aston Villa 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Coventry City, Charlton Athletic 0-0 Leicester City, Liverpool FC 1-2 Derby County, Nottingham Forest 0-1 Wimbledon, Southampton 3-3 Middlesbrough, Arsenal 1-0 Everton, Leeds United 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester United 0-0 Newcastle United, West Ham United 1-1 Chelsea

The 7th-8th November 1998 weekend would be one of shattering blows for an Italian striker, the end of ‘The Boot Room’ regime at a leading Premier League club and a wonderful debut for another forward in the Midlands.

The big news going into this round of games was Aston Villa’s acquisition of the ex-Manchester United forward Dion Dublin. Villa had pipped Blackburn Rovers to the signature of Dublin, who had decided to call time on his four-year spell as the leading marksman at Coventry City.

Just 48 hours after arriving at Villa Park, Dublin made his Aston Villa debut as the league leaders welcomed Tottenham Hotspur. With virtually his first opportunity, he scored after 31 minutes. Four minutes later, he made it 2-0 with another composed finish and when Stan Collymore made it 3-0 two minutes into the second half, John Gregory’s side were going to be staying as the table toppers. Despite two late goals from Darren Anderton and Ramon Vega, Villa held on for a 3-2 victory which looked more comfortable than the actual scoreline suggested. Gregory’s side were still unbeaten after 11 matches and finished the weekend two points clear. For new Tottenham manager George Graham, it was just one win from his first four matches in the post and Spurs sat a below-par 14th in the table.

Only three places above them were Liverpool FC. The Reds had won just one of their last seven matches and that run got worse when Derby County won 2-1 at Anfield. Early goals inside the first 30 minutes from Kevin Harper and Paulo Wanchope spearheaded Derby to an amazing victory. The pressure was growing on Liverpool’s wisdom of appointing joint-managers. It was Gerard Houllier and Roy Evans in the dugout together and the latter was taking most of the flak. Less than a week later, Evans had parted company with the club and Houllier would take sole charge of the team. The final link to ‘The Boot Room’ which had dominated Anfield for over 30 years had been severed.

Liverpool were some way off the pace which was being set by Villa. Among the chasing pack were Chelsea and they extended their unbeaten run to nine matches after drawing 1-1 at West Ham United. Celestine Babayaro scored the equaliser to preserve this record. However, this match would be overshadowed by a horrific injury sustained by Pierluigi Casiraghi. The Italian had scored just once and his 10th appearance for the Londoners would be his last. An unfortunate collision in the penalty area with West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop led to a serious cruciate knee ligament injury. Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli admitted his season was over but was optimistic Casiraghi could recover. In truth, he would never play professional football again, retiring in 2002 after 10 unsuccessful operations.

Defending champions Arsenal moved above Manchester United into second place. Nicolas Anelka’s early goal after six minutes was enough to defeat Everton 1-0 at Highbury whilst the Red Devils were held to a goalless draw by a stubborn Newcastle United at Old Trafford.

At the wrong end of the table, Southampton remained bottom after an enthralling 3-3 draw with Middlesbrough. The visitors had both Phil Stamp and Robbie Mustoe sent off by referee Paul Alcock and required a 90th minute equaliser from defender Gianluca Festa to rescue a point. Coventry City and Blackburn Rovers swapped places with the Sky Blues’ 2-1 win in Lancashire moving them out of the relegation zone at Blackburn’s expense.

What else happened in November 1998?

  • The United States House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against American president Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky scandal.
  • The European Court of Human Rights is instituted.
  • The United Kingdom formally abolishes the death penalty.
  • Former professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura is elected Governor of Minnesota.
  • Daimler-Benz completes a merger with Chrysler Corporation to form Daimler-Chrysler.
  • A new subscription movie channel from Channel 4, FilmFour is launched.
  • Mika Hakkinen wins the Japanese Grand Prix to become Formula One World Champion for the first time in his career.
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Seasonal Records: 2007-2008

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2006-2007 Premier League campaign. The title race went down to the wire but it was Manchester United who made it back-to-back title successes, beating Chelsea to the league title and the UEFA Champions League.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 27 6 5 80 22 +58 87
2 Chelsea 38 25 10 3 65 26 +39 85
3 Arsenal 38 24 11 3 74 31 +43 83
4 Liverpool FC 38 21 13 4 67 28 +39 76
5 Everton 38 19 8 11 55 33 +22 65
6 Aston Villa 38 16 12 10 71 51 +20 60
7 Blackburn Rovers 38 15 13 10 50 48 +2 58
8 Portsmouth 38 16 9 13 48 40 +8 57
9 Manchester City 38 15 10 13 45 53 -8 55
10 West Ham United 38 13 10 15 42 50 -8 49
11 Tottenham Hotspur 38 11 13 14 66 61 +5 46
12 Newcastle United 38 11 10 17 45 65 -20 43
13 Middlesbrough 38 10 12 16 43 53 -10 42
14 Wigan Athletic 38 10 10 18 34 51 -17 40
15 Sunderland 38 11 6 21 36 59 -23 39
16 Bolton Wanderers 38 9 10 19 36 54 -18 37
17 Fulham 38 8 12 18 38 60 -22 36
18 Reading 38 10 6 22 41 66 -25 36
19 Birmingham City 38 8 11 19 46 62 -16 35
20 Derby County 38 1 8 29 20 89 -69 11

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1002
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League)

Chelsea (UEFA Champions League)

Arsenal (UEFA Champions League)

Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League)

Everton (UEFA Cup)

Manchester City (UEFA Cup)

Portsmouth (UEFA Cup)

Tottenham Hotspur (UEFA Cup)

Aston Villa (UEFA Intertoto Cup)

Longest winning run 8 games (Manchester United)
Longest unbeaten run 21 games (Chelsea)
Longest winless run 32 games (Derby County)
Longest losing run 8 games (Reading & Wigan Athletic)
Highest attendance 76,013 (Manchester United vs. West Ham United)
Lowest attendance 14,007 (Wigan Athletic vs. Middlesbrough)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
PFA Young Player of the Year Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Football Writers’ Award Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
PFA Team of the Year David James, Gael Clichy, Rio Ferdinand, Bacary Sagna, Nemanja Vidic, Cesc Fabregas, Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ashley Young, Emmanuel Adebayor, Fernando Torres
Manager of the Year Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
Premier League Goal of the Season Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur vs. ARSENAL)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Emmanuel Adebayor Arsenal vs. Derby County 5-0 22nd September 2007
Benjani Portsmouth vs. Reading 7-4 29th September 2007
Yakubu Everton vs. Fulham 3-0 8th December 2007
Roque Santa Cruz Wigan Athletic vs. Blackburn Rovers 5-3 15th December 2007
Marcus Bent Wigan Athletic vs. Blackburn Rovers 5-3 15th December 2007
Dimitar Berbatov (4) Tottenham Hotspur vs. Reading 6-4 29th December 2007
Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United vs. Newcastle United 6-0 12th January 2008
Benjani Portsmouth vs. Derby County 3-1 19th January 2008
John Carew Aston Villa vs. Newcastle United 4-1 9th February 2008
Fernando Torres Liverpool FC vs. Middlesbrough 3-2 23rd February 2008
Mikael Forssell Birmingham City vs. Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 1st March 2008
Fernando Torres Liverpool FC vs. West Ham United 4-0 5th March 2008
Frank Lampard (4) Chelsea vs. Derby County 6-1 12th March 2008
Emmanuel Adebayor Derby County vs. Arsenal 2-6 28th April 2008
Afonso Alves Middlesbrough vs. Manchester City 8-1 11th May 2008

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United 31
2= Emmanuel Adebayor Arsenal 24
2= Fernando Torres Liverpool FC 24
4 Roque Santa Cruz Blackburn Rovers 19
5= Dimitar Berbatov Tottenham Hotspur 15
5= Yakubu Everton 15
5= Benjani Portsmouth & Manchester City 15
5= Robbie Keane Tottenham Hotspur 15
9 Carlos Tevez Manchester United 14
10 John Carew Aston Villa 13
11= Wayne Rooney Manchester United 12
11= Jermain Defoe Tottenham Hotspur & Portsmouth 12
13= Nicolas Anelka Bolton Wanderers & Chelsea 11
13= Steven Gerrard Liverpool FC 11
13= Gabriel Agbonlahor Aston Villa 11
13= Michael Owen Newcastle United 11
17= Frank Lampard Chelsea 10
17= Dean Ashton West Ham United 10
17= Dave Kitson Reading 10
20= Gareth Barry Aston Villa 9
20= Obafemi Martins Newcastle United 9
20= Stewart Downing Middlesbrough 9
20= Mikael Forssell Birmingham City 9
24= Didier Drogba Chelsea 8
24= Joleon Lescott Everton 8

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City 11th May 2008
Everton 7-1 Sunderland 24th November 2007
Manchester United 6-0 Newcastle United 12th January 2008
Chelsea 6-0 Manchester City 27th October 2007
Liverpool FC 6-0 Derby County 1st September 2007
Derby County 0-6 Aston Villa 12th April 2008
Chelsea 6-1 Derby County 12th March 2008
Arsenal 5-0 Derby County 22nd September 2007
Derby County 0-5 West Ham United 10th November 2007
Derby County 2-6 Arsenal 28th April 2008

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
11 Portsmouth 7-4 Reading 29th September 2007
10 Tottenham Hotspur 6-4 Reading 29th December 2007
9 Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City 11th May 2008
8 Everton 7-1 Sunderland 24th November 2007
8 Derby County 2-6 Arsenal 28th April 2008
8 Wigan Athletic 5-3 Blackburn Rovers 15th December 2007
8 Chelsea 4-4 Aston Villa 26th December 2007
8 Tottenham Hotspur 4-4 Chelsea 19th March 2008
8 Tottenham Hotspur 4-4 Aston Villa 1st October 2007
7 Chelsea 6-1 Derby County 12th March 2008
6 Manchester United 6-0 Newcastle United 12th January 2008
6 Chelsea 6-0 Manchester City 27th October 2007
6 Liverpool FC 6-0 Derby County 1st September 2007
6 Derby County 0-6 Aston Villa 12th April 2008
6 Newcastle United 1-5 Manchester United 23rd February 2008
6 Aston Villa 5-1 Birmingham City 20th April 2008
6 Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Fulham 26th December 2007
6 Blackburn Rovers 4-2 Reading 20th October 2007
6 Portsmouth 4-2 Birmingham City 12th March 2008
6 Manchester City 4-2 Bolton Wanderers 15th December 2007

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Jack Rodwell Sunderland 0-1 Everton 16 years, 11 months, 27 days 9th March 2008
Kazenga Lualua Newcastle United 0-0 Bolton Wanderers 17 years, 1 month, 9 days 19th January 2008
Martyn Waghorn Sunderland 0-4 Manchester United 17 years, 11 months, 3 days 26th December 2007
Gareth Bale Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur 18 years, 1 month, 10 days 26th August 2007
Adel Taarabt Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Derby County 18 years, 2 months, 25 days 18th August 2007
Freddie Sears West Ham United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers 18 years, 3 months, 17 days 15th March 2008
Paris Simmons Derby County 0-4 Reading 18 years, 4 months, 9 days 11th May 2008
Theo Walcott Arsenal 2-1 Fulham 18 years, 4 months, 27 days 12th August 2007
Daniel Sturridge Derby County 1-1 Manchester City 18 years, 4 months, 29 days 30th January 2008
Armand Traore Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool FC 18 years, 5 months, 28 days 5th April 2008

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Jens Lehmann Arsenal 1-0 Everton 38 years, 5 months, 24 days 4th May 2008
Kasey Keller Portsmouth 0-1 Fulham 38 years, 5 months, 12 days 11th May 2008
Gary Speed Bolton Wanderers 4-1 Wigan Athletic 38 years, 3 months, 1 day 9th December 2007
David James Manchester City 3-1 Portsmouth 37 years, 8 months, 19 days 20th April 2008
Tugay Birmingham City 4-1 Blackburn Rovers 37 years, 8 months, 17 days 11th May 2008
Edwin van der Sar Wigan Athletic 0-2 Manchester United 37 years, 6 months, 12 days 11th May 2008
Brad Friedel Birmingham City 4-1 Blackburn Rovers 36 years, 11 months, 23 days 11th May 2008
Maik Taylor Birmingham City 4-1 Blackburn Rovers 36 years, 8 months, 7 days 11th May 2008
Alan Stubbs Derby County 2-6 Arsenal 36 years, 6 months, 22 days 28th April 2008
Dwight Yorke Sunderland 0-1 Arsenal 36 years, 6 months, 8 days 11th May 2008

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Pepe Reina Liverpool FC 18
2 David James Portsmouth 16
3= Edwin van der Sar Manchester United 15
3= Petr Cech Chelsea 15
5 Tim Howard Everton 14
6 Chris Kirkland Wigan Athletic 12
7 Manuel Almunia Arsenal 11
8 Scott Carson Aston Villa 9
9= Brad Friedel Blackburn Rovers 8
9= Robert Green West Ham United 8

The Managers: Jim Smith

Premier League Clubs Managed: Derby County (1997-2001)

Jim Smith was an experienced-hand in football and managed in every single main division in English football. He spent four relatively successful seasons as a Premier League manager with Derby County and served as Harry Redknapp’s assistant at both Portsmouth and Southampton. Now aged 77, Smith earned himself the nickname “The Bald Eagle.”

Toiling as a player

Smith grew up in Sheffield and was a Sheffield Wednesday supporter as a youngster. In terms of his playing career, he toiled around in the lower leagues but he did make over 370 league appearances between 1959 and 1973.

Although he was a Wednesday fan, it was Sheffield United who signed him up as a professional, though he didn’t make a first-team appearance for the Blades. He was transferred to Aldershot Town in 1961 and would go on to play for Halifax Town, Lincoln City, Boston United and Colchester United.

By the time he’d retired as a player, Jim was already making his first strides into management. He took charge of both Boston and Colchester, guiding the Essex club to promotion from the Fourth Division in 1974.

A year later, he left Colchester for Blackburn Rovers which would be the first of seven clubs he’d take charge of on a permanent basis over nearly 30 years. Blackburn were a Second Division side at the time and Smith consolidated them initially before leading them to a promotion push in 1978. However, he wouldn’t see the season out as a new challenge awaited in the top-flight.

Being a part of transfer history

In March 1978, Birmingham City were struggling near the foot of the First Division table. England’s World Cup winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey decided to step down, not fancying relegation on his CV. Smith accepted the challenge but couldn’t keep the Blues away from the drop.

He would eventually take charge of 182 matches at St. Andrew’s and was part of football transfer history as he allowed Trevor Francis to leave and join Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest. In doing so, Francis became the first £1 million player in transfer history. Smith was allowed to re-invest the money in the rest of the playing squad and guided Birmingham back at the first attempt to the First Division.

In early 1982, Ron Saunders controversially walked out on Aston Villa; the team he’d led to the First Division title a season earlier. Birmingham sensed an opportunity and decided to sack Smith and replace him with Saunders at the end of the 1981-1982 season. Smith would later say in his book that he believed the decision to axe him was made on the team coach on the way home from the last game of the season.

Oxford United picked him up and he led them to the Third Division title in 1984 and actually achieved back-to-back promotions as they won the Second Division crown a year later. In most cases, that should give you a job for life but unfortunately for Jim, the owner of Oxford at the time was the controversial media mogul, Robert Maxwell. Maxwell refused to enter discussions for a new contract, so Smith left after the consecutive title success to take the job at Queens Park Rangers.

Maxwell got his revenge on his former boss in 1986 as Oxford beat QPR 3-0 in the League Cup final. After three years in west London, he made the move to manage Newcastle United in December 1988. Like many before and after him, he found the going very tough on Tyneside and by March 1991, with little progress being made and a power struggle in the boardroom at St. James’ Park, he resigned. Later, he claimed Newcastle United are “unmanageable.”

Near-miss with Pompey

In the summer of 1991, his next port of call was Portsmouth where the 1991-1992 season saw a near-miss in the world’s oldest domestic cup competition. Pompey reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup before losing a penalty shootout to eventual winners Liverpool FC.  A year later, they came within an inch of automatic promotion to the Premier League but missed out to West Ham United on goal difference, then losing in the play-off semi-finals.

Star player Guy Whittingham was sold to Aston Villa in the summer of 1993, following the likes of Darren Anderton and John Beresford who were transferred away from the club a season earlier. No money was made available for adequate replacements and in January 1995, he was sacked and briefly had a spell as chief executive of the LMA (League Managers’ Association).

In the summer of 1995, he returned to the dugout as manager of Derby County, bringing in Steve McClaren as a first-team coach. He finally made it to the promise land of the Premier League. Derby beat promotion rivals Crystal Palace 2-1 in April 1996 to secure the runners-up spot in the First Division behind champions Sunderland.

He added the likes of Croatian defender Igor Stimac, midfielder Aljosa Asanovic and the unheralded forward Paulo Wanchope and Derby finished a comfortable 12th in their first Premier League season, beating Manchester United 3-2 at Old Trafford along the way.

Even better was to come for the Derby faithful as the 1990s drew to a close.

Feeling Pride at Pride Park

1996-1997 was Derby County’s final season at The Baseball Ground and they would move that summer into a new stadium. Jim would feel great pride at being the first Derby manager to coach at Pride Park. The first game against Wimbledon was abandoned due to a floodlight failure but he made them very difficult to beat at home.

Derby beat Arsenal 3-0, held Manchester United to a 2-2 draw and crushed Southampton 4-0. They remained unbeaten on home soil until Leeds United picked up a 5-0 victory in mid-March. That loss did take the life out of the Rams season but they still finished a creditable ninth in the table.

They improved a season later to eighth, with another scalp being a 2-1 triumph at Anfield over Liverpool FC. Smith had made Derby an attractive side to watch, with the creative talents of Wanchope, Dean Sturridge, Francesco Baiano and Stefano Eranio matched by the grit of goalkeeper Mart Poom, defender Chris Powell and midfielder Lee Carsley.

The next two seasons were a much bigger struggle, with the club finishing near the lower reaches of the Premier League table. After winning just one of his first seven games in 2001-2002, Derby decided to make a change. They offered Smith a Director of Football position but he turned it down and as a result, tendered his resignation in October 2001. Colin Todd would replace him.

He said: “I appreciated the chairman offering me the position of Director of Football, but felt I had more to offer the club. I will always appreciate Derby County and their magnificent fans for everything they have done for me and my family.”

Becoming a no.2

After his exit from Derby, Jim Smith became an assistant manager for the majority of the rest of his time in football. In January 2002, he was made assistant to Roland Nilsson at Coventry City but was sacked three months later as the Sky Blues failed to launch a challenge for a play-off place.

Harry Redknapp added him to his staff at Portsmouth and Jim played an important part in the south coast’s side promotion as First Division champions in 2003. The pair remained together until November 2004 when Redknapp resigned following a row with owner Milan Mandaric over the appointment of a Director of Football. A month later, Smith would rejoin Redknapp a few miles down the road at Southampton but they couldn’t save the Saints from sliding into the Championship. He was made redundant in a round of job cuts following their failure to preserve their top-flight status, much to Redknapp’s chagrin.

He returned to the main hotseat of one of his former clubs, Oxford United in March 2006, holding the role for 18 months as Oxford struggled in non-league football. He also took a seat on the board before severing his ties with the club in 2009.

With 34 years’ experience in the game, Jim Smith was one of the most respected and well-liked personalities in football and put Derby County well and truly on the Premier League map in the late 1990s.

The Managers: John Gregory

Premier League Clubs Managed: Aston Villa (1998-2002), Derby County (2002)

In 2015, it looked like John Gregory’s managerial career would be cut short when health reasons forced him to step down from his position at Crawley Town. Happily, Gregory has made a full recovery and is back in management over in India, currently as manager of Chennaiyin.

Recently, 20 years have passed since his appointment as Aston Villa manager where he took them to a title challenge tilt in his first full season and an FA Cup final appearance before an ill-fated spell at one of his playing clubs in Derby County that ended with Premier League relegation in 2002.

Playing in his teens

Gregory made his professional debut as a player at the age of just 18 in 1972. His first club was Northampton Town, scoring eight times in 187 league appearances before earning his big chance with Aston Villa in 1977.

It was a big step-up for John from his time with the Cobblers but he handled the pressure very well, even if his spell with the Villans was restricted to just two seasons. Gregory became the only player to play in every outfield position, wearing every number from 2 to 11 over his two seasons with the club, which remains a record.

After two years on the seaside with Brighton & Hove Albion, Gregory moved to Queens Park Rangers in 1981, enjoying the most successful period of his playing career at Loftus Road. In his first full season in west London, he was part of the team that reached the FA Cup final but experienced the agony of losing that final to Tottenham Hotspur. It was a pain that John would also experience as a manager a full 18 years later.

He helped QPR qualify for the UEFA Cup in 1984 but after Terry Venables left to accept the position as Barcelona manager, their form dipped and Gregory elected to move to Derby County in 1985.

Derby had been champions of England twice in the 1970s but by 1985, had dropped into the Third Division. With Gregory’s guile and experience, the Rams returned into the limelight with back-to-back promotions. After helping them survive their first campaign back in the top-flight, he announced his retirement as a player in 1988, although he did briefly come out of retirement two years later for very brief spells with Plymouth Argyle and Bolton Wanderers.

Cutting his apprenticeship

It would be six years between the end of Gregory’s playing career and his first steps into permanent management. His apprenticeship as a coach was during Brian Little’s days as manager with Leicester City and Aston Villa. He joined Little’s team in 1991 and followed him to Villa Park three years later.

In September 1996, he got the opportunity to go his own way with Wycombe Wanderers. At the time, it was one of the toughest jobs to make your mark. Wycombe were bottom of Division Two but he stabilised them and took them to a solid mid-table finish.

He had turned Wycombe into a play-off challenger in Division Two when Little resigned as Aston Villa manager in February 1998 after a 2-1 loss to Wimbledon left them floundering in 15th place in the table. Although big names were linked to the post, including Dutchman Ruud Gullit, Gregory was given the opportunity to return to Villa Park to revive their fortunes.

He revealed recently: “Villa had a group of players that should not be, under any circumstances, be worried about the threat of relegation.”

A wonderful honeymoon

His first match was a home game with Liverpool FC. Villa had lost five of their previous seven matches and Gregory had inherited a squad that he knew greatly from his days of being on Little’s coaching staff. The only exception was Stan Collymore and their relationship would be destructive.

It started well. Collymore put in an unstoppable performance against the club that had sold him the previous summer, scoring twice in Villa’s 2-1 victory. It was the high point of a very tempestuous relationship.

Collymore was involved in a highly-publicised bust-up with his girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson in the summer of 1998 and was never the same player after that. He struggled with depression and stress and it was something the manager struggled to help him with. He eventually loaned him out to Fulham and would release him in 2000 to join Leicester City.

Insults have been traded over the years but Gregory accepts mistakes were made on his behalf. He said: “It pains me to admit that I failed miserably in showing any kind of compassion to his long drawn out periods of depression. I still cannot understand how someone so young, fit, handsome and wealthy can suffer from such an illness.”

Aside from Collymore, the rest of the playing squad looked revitalised under his coaching. Villa rallied to seventh place at the end of the 1997-1998 campaign and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Despite selling Dwight Yorke to Manchester United, the momentum continued for the rest of the 1998 calendar year.

Aston Villa stayed unbeaten until mid-November and were top of the table on Christmas Day, losing just three times in the first half of the season. Going into 1999, Gregory’s team looked like a serious title challenger alongside Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal. It had been a wonderful honeymoon period but it wasn’t to last.

Second suffering at Wembley

The Villans form crumbled after an FA Cup exit in January 1999 to Fulham. They folded in the title race and didn’t even qualify for Europe, finishing sixth in the final 1998-1999 standings.

A run to the FA Cup final in 2000 was the highlight of John’s next two seasons at the helm, guiding them to the final-ever final before Wembley would be demolished and redeveloped. They met Chelsea but the occasion seemed to get to the better of the players on the day. Roberto Di Matteo’s scrappy second half winner saw Chelsea claim the cup and produced a second final suffering for Gregory after his pain as a player with Queens Park Rangers.

In 2001-2002, the club had a brief taste of top spot in the table again, hitting the summit at the end of October after a 3-2 success at home to Bolton Wanderers. However, only three wins in 13 games followed which dropped them to seventh and two-goal leads were blown in the Premier League away to Arsenal and in the FA Cup at home to Manchester United.

In late January 2002, Gregory walked away from Aston Villa and was immediately linked with the vacancy at his former playing club, Derby County.

A Derby disaster

His first game as Derby manager came less than 10 days after exiting Aston Villa and Lee Morris scored the only goal in a 1-0 success over Tottenham Hotspur.

An away victory at already doomed Leicester City followed and only a controversial disallowed goal stopped them beating Manchester United at Pride Park. Unfortunately, seven defeats from the Rams last eight fixtures saw their six-year stay in England’s top-flight come to an end.

Gregory stayed on but couldn’t buy any players due to financial restrictions and Derby struggled back in Division One. He was sacked in March 2003 for alleged misconduct and took the club to court for unfair dismissal.

The protracted legal action meant he was out of the game for three years but he was successful in his case, winning £1 million in compensation. Needless to say, his Derby spell was a disaster.

Since then, John has been globetrotting with spells as a manager in Kazakhstan and Israel along with stints at Queens Park Rangers and Crawley Town.

With Crawley struggling in the League One relegation zone in December 2014, Gregory stepped down with the club revealing he needed open heart surgery in January 2015. After a long period of recuperation, he made a full recovery and is currently in India, adding to his managerial CV.

Passive was not a word to use about John Gregory. He had a good reputation for working with difficult characters and getting the best out of them. He was good also with soundbites for the media. When Yorke left Villa for Manchester United in August 1998, he jokingly said in a media conference: “Dwight came into my office a couple of weeks ago and stated he wanted to play for Manchester United and he didn’t want to play for Aston Villa. If I’d had a gun at the time, I think I would have shot him!”

One thing he does know after his health scare is he knows the true meaning of life and it being more important than management.

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.

Memorable Matches: Bolton Wanderers 3-3 Derby County (December 1997)

Goalscorers: Alan Thompson 50 PEN, Stefano Eranio 55, Francesco Baiano 64, 69, Nathan Blake 73, Jamie Pollock 77

Teams:

Bolton Wanderers: Gavin Ward, Gudni Bergsson, Chris Fairclough, Jimmy Phillips, Andy Todd, Per Frandsen, Jamie Pollock, Scott Sellars (Michael Johansen 88), Alan Thompson, Peter Beardsley (Arnar Gunnlaugsson 88), Nathan Blake

Derby County: Mart Poom, Christian Dailly, Rob Kozluk (Darryl Powell 81), Gary Rowett, Igor Stimac, Chris Powell, Lee Carsley, Stefano Eranio, Francesco Baiano, Paulo Wanchope (Deon Burton 81), Dean Sturridge

Referee: Uriah Rennie, Attendance: 23,027

After 102 years of playing professional football at Burnden Park, Bolton Wanderers had moved into the new state-of-the-art Reebok Stadium in-time for the 1997-1998 campaign. This was their second season in the Premier League and again, it looked like being a campaign battling to avoid relegation. They faced Jim Smith’s Derby County in this pre-Christmas encounter which produced an entertaining second half for the Sky Sports Super Sunday cameras.

The first half was dominated by the home side but they couldn’t find a way through. Chris Fairclough hit the crossbar from a free-kick which was the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock. The goals arrived in a belting second half. Midfielder Per Frandsen won a penalty five minutes into the second half as he was fouled by Derby defender Igor Stimac. Uriah Rennie correctly pointed to the spot and Alan Thompson made no mistake to give the hosts a deserved lead. The goal sparked Derby into life and five minutes later, they were level. Francesco Baiano played in his fellow Italian Stefano Eranio, who finished well as the defenders gave him plenty of time to strike.

The visitors started to take control of the game. Dean Sturridge was denied a goal by some last-ditch goalkeeping from Gavin Ward but a second Rams’ goal was coming. Moments after being kept out by Ward, Sturridge’s searing pace took him away from Andy Todd. His cross was palmed out by Ward, but only into the path of the in-form Baiano who made no mistake with his finish. Five minutes later, the little Italian had doubled his tally. He played a lovely one-two with Sturridge and as Fairclough slipped in trying to cut the ball out, Baiano placed the ball beyond Ward’s advances. At this stage of the season, Baiano was already on 11 Premier League goals and he was looking like one of the signings of the summer.

Bolton showed great resilience in coming back though from a 3-1 deficit. Nathan Blake’s header from Thompson’s cross gave them hope on 73 minutes. Four minutes later, Frandsen made a surging run into the box. His neat back heel allowed Jamie Pollock to take control of possession. The midfielder fired his shot into the bottom corner to level the scores. Both sides pushed for a winner but in the end, the points were shared.

The point took Bolton upto 15th but they would suffer anguish on the final day and experienced relegation at Stamford Bridge. Despite a horrendous away record, Derby finished an excellent ninth in just their second Premier League season.

Seasonal Records: 2001-2002

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2001-2002 Premier League campaign, as Arsenal scored in every single game to end Manchester United’s three-year stranglehold on the prize.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Arsenal 38 26 9 3 79 36 +43 87
2 Liverpool FC 38 24 8 6 67 30 +37 80
3 Manchester United 38 24 5 9 87 45 +42 77
4 Newcastle United 38 21 8 9 74 52 +22 71
5 Leeds United 38 18 12 8 53 37 +16 66
6 Chelsea 38 17 13 8 66 38 +28 64
7 West Ham United 38 15 8 15 48 57 -9 53
8 Aston Villa 38 12 14 12 46 47 -1 50
9 Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 8 16 49 53 -4 50
10 Blackburn Rovers 38 12 10 16 55 51 +4 46
11 Middlesbrough 38 12 9 17 46 54 -8 45
12 Southampton 38 10 9 17 35 47 -12 45
13 Fulham 38 10 14 14 36 44 -8 44
14 Charlton Athletic 38 10 14 14 38 49 -11 44
15 Everton 38 11 10 17 45 57 -12 43
16 Bolton Wanderers 38 9 13 16 44 62 -18 40
17 Sunderland 38 10 10 18 29 51 -22 40
18 Ipswich Town 38 9 9 20 41 64 -23 36
19 Derby County 38 8 6 24 33 63 -30 30
20 Leicester City 38 5 13 20 30 64 -34 28

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1001
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Arsenal (UEFA Champions League), Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League), Newcastle United (UEFA Champions League), Leeds United (UEFA Cup), Chelsea (UEFA Cup), Blackburn Rovers (UEFA Cup), Ipswich Town (UEFA Cup), Aston Villa (UEFA Intertoto Cup), Fulham (UEFA Intertoto Cup)
Longest winning run 13 games (Arsenal)
Longest unbeaten run 21 games (Arsenal)
Longest winless run 16 games (Leicester City)
Longest losing run 7 games (Derby County)
Highest attendance 67,638 (Manchester United vs. Middlesbrough)
Lowest attendance 15,415 (Leicester City vs. Middlesbrough)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United)
PFA Young Player of the Year Craig Bellamy (Newcastle United)
Football Writers’ Award Robert Pires (Arsenal)
PFA Team of the Year Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Steve Finnan, Rio Ferdinand, Sami Hyypia, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Ryan Giggs, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy
Manager of the Year Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Premier League Goal of the Season Dennis Bergkamp (Newcastle United vs. ARSENAL)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Robbie Fowler Leicester City vs. Liverpool FC 1-4 20th October 2001
Paul Kitson Charlton Athletic vs. West Ham United 4-4 19th November 2001
Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United vs. Southampton 6-1 22nd December 2001
Robbie Fowler Bolton Wanderers vs. Leeds United 0-3 26th December 2001
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Bolton Wanderers vs. Manchester United 0-4 29th January 2002
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 13th March 2002
Fredi Bobic Bolton Wanderers vs. Ipswich Town 4-1 6th April 2002

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Thierry Henry Arsenal 24
2= Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United 23
2= Alan Shearer Newcastle United 23
2= Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Chelsea 23
5 Michael Owen Liverpool FC 19
6 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 17
7 Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC & Leeds United 15
8= Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea 14
8= Marian Pahars Southampton 14
10= Andy Cole Manchester United & Blackburn Rovers 13
10= Michael Ricketts Bolton Wanderers 13
12= Freddie Ljungberg Arsenal 12
12= Darius Vassell Aston Villa 12
12= James Beattie Southampton 12
12= Juan Pablo Angel Aston Villa 12
16= David Beckham Manchester United 11
16= Mark Viduka Leeds United 11
16= Freddie Kanoute West Ham United 11
16= Jason Euell Charlton Athletic 11
16= Kevin Phillips Sunderland 11
21= Gus Poyet Tottenham Hotspur 10
21= Jermain Defoe West Ham United 10
21= Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur 10
21= Matt Jansen Blackburn Rovers 10
25 Robert Pires Arsenal 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Blackburn Rovers 7-1 West Ham United 14th October 2001
Ipswich Town 0-6 Liverpool FC 9th February 2002
Manchester United 6-1 Southampton 22nd December 2001
Liverpool FC 5-0 Ipswich Town 11th May 2002
Manchester United 5-0 Derby County 12th December 2001
Everton 5-0 West Ham United 29th September 2001
Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers 18th August 2001
Ipswich Town 5-0 Sunderland 29th December 2001
Newcastle United 6-2 Everton 29th March 2002
Chelsea 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 23rd December 2001

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
8 Blackburn Rovers 7-1 West Ham United 14th October 2001
8 Newcastle United 6-2 Everton 29th March 2002
8 Tottenham Hotspur 3-5 Manchester United 29th September 2001
8 West Ham United 3-5 Manchester United 16th March 2002
8 Charlton Athletic 4-4 West Ham United 19th November 2001
7 Manchester United 6-1 Southampton 22nd December 2001
7 Arsenal 4-3 Everton 11th May 2002
7 Liverpool FC 4-3 Blackburn Rovers 8th May 2002
7 Leeds United 3-4 Manchester United 30th March 2002
7 Newcastle United 4-3 Manchester United 15th September 2001
7 Leeds United 3-4 Newcastle United 22nd December 2001
7 Derby County 3-4 Everton 23rd March 2002
6 Ipswich Town 0-6 Liverpool FC 9th February 2002
6 Chelsea 5-1 West Ham United 20th January 2002
6 Chelsea 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 23rd December 2001
6 Middlesbrough 5-1 Derby County 3rd November 2001
6 Arsenal 2-4 Charlton Athletic 4th November 2001
6 Chelsea 2-4 Southampton 1st January 2002
6 Arsenal 3-3 Blackburn Rovers 20th October 2001
6 Southampton 3-3 Ipswich Town 24th October 2001

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Tommy Williamson Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur 17 years, 4 months, 17 days 11th May 2002
Tommy Wright Leicester City 0-2 Leeds United 17 years, 5 months, 23 days 23rd March 2002
Robert Huth Chelsea 1-3 Aston Villa 17 years, 8 months, 23 days 11th May 2002
Stewart Downing Ipswich Town 1-0 Middlesbrough 17 years, 9 months, 2 days 24th April 2002
Darren Bent Ipswich Town 1-2 Bolton Wanderers 17 years, 9 months, 12 days 18th November 2001
David Murphy Middlesbrough 2-1 Fulham 17 years, 11 months, 20 days 19th February 2002
Scott McDonald Southampton 1-3 Aston Villa 18 years, 1 month, 3 days 24th September 2001
Darren Ambrose Arsenal 2-0 Ipswich Town 18 years, 1 month, 23 days 21st April 2002
Gary Twigg Sunderland 1-1 Derby County 18 years, 1 month, 22 days 11th May 2002
Carlton Cole Chelsea 3-0 Everton 18 years, 5 months, 25 days 6th April 2002

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Raimond van der Gouw Manchester United 0-0 Charlton Athletic 39 years, 1 month, 17 days 11th May 2002
Kevin Poole Everton 3-1 Bolton Wanderers 38 years, 8 months, 11 days 1st April 2002
David Seaman Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal 38 years, 7 months, 19 days 8th May 2002
Mark Hughes Blackburn Rovers 3-0 Fulham 38 years, 6 months, 9 days 11th May 2002
Nigel Winterburn West Ham United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers 38 years, 5 months 11th May 2002
Peter Schmeichel Middlesbrough 2-1 Aston Villa 38 years, 4 months, 19 days 6th April 2002
Lee Dixon Arsenal 4-3 Everton 38 years, 1 month, 24 days 11th May 2002
Gary McAllister Liverpool FC 5-0 Ipswich Town 37 years, 4 months, 16 days 11th May 2002
Gudni Bergsson West Ham United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers 36 years, 9 months, 20 days 11th May 2002
Denis Irwin Manchester United 0-0 Charlton Athletic 36 years, 6 months, 10 days 11th May 2002

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Jerzy Dudek Liverpool FC 18
1= Nigel Martyn Leeds United 18
3 Edwin van der Sar Fulham 15
4 Carlo Cudicini Chelsea 13
5 Dean Kiely Charlton Athletic 12
6= David Seaman Arsenal 10
6= Thomas Sorensen Sunderland 10
8= Fabien Barthez Manchester United 9
8= Shay Given Newcastle United 9
8= David James West Ham United 9

Premier League Files: Gary Rowett

Premier League Career: Everton (1994-1995), Derby County (1996-1998), Leicester City (2000-2002), Charlton Athletic (2002-2004)

Now manager of Derby County in the SkyBet Championship, Gary Rowett will be aiming one day to manage in the Premier League. His playing career took him to four clubs in the top-flight and his best days were with the Rams between 1996 and 1998 under the guidance of Jim Smith.

Rowett started his career at Cambridge United and was part of the team that finished fifth in the Second Division during the 1991-1992 campaign, the club’s best league finish to-date. After three strong campaigns at the Abbey Stadium, Rowett was signed by Everton for £200,000 in March 1994. His debut was a nightmare, featuring for just 11 minutes as Everton were crushed 5-1 at Hillsborough by Sheffield Wednesday. He would play only four times in the top-flight for the Toffees.

During his Everton stint, the full-back went out on-loan to Blackpool before being sold onto Derby in a part-exchange which saw Craig Short go to Goodison Park.  He was more of a first-team regular at Derby. His first Premier League goal came in April 1997 in a victory over Aston Villa. He also struck in a win at Coventry City towards the end of the 1996-1997 campaign as Derby finished a creditable 12th in their maiden Premier League season.

He was sold to Birmingham City in 1998 but after failing to win promotion to the Premier League with the Blues, he moved back into the top-flight with Leicester City in 2000. He featured in every single game in 2000-2001 under Peter Taylor and even scored in a fine victory over Chelsea. Injuries then started to catch up with Rowett. He played just 11 times in Leicester’s 2001-2002 relegation season before moving to Charlton Athletic. His final game in the top-flight was on the opening weekend of the 2003-2004 campaign as Charlton went down 3-0 to Manchester City. A persistent knee injury put an end to his career and he went straight into management.

Rowett has managed Burton Albion and Birmingham City. He was surprisingly sacked by Birmingham in December 2016, despite sitting seventh in the Championship table and only outside the playoffs on goal difference. After a brief spell out of the game doing some punditry work with Sky Sports, he returned to management with Derby County in March 2017, succeeding Steve McClaren.

Shock Results: Derby County 1-0 Newcastle United (September 2007)

Goalscorer: Kenny Miller 39

Teams:

Derby County: Stephen Bywater, Dean Leacock, Andy Griffin, Claude Davis, Tyrone Mears, Stephen Pearson, Matt Oakley, Eddie Lewis (Jay McEveley 87), Gary Teale, Kenny Miller (Benny Feilhaber 80), Steve Howard

Newcastle United: Steve Harper, David Rozenhal, Steven Taylor (Habib Beye 75), Claudio Cacapa, Geremi (Abdoulaye Faye 60), Charles N’Zogbia, Nicky Butt, Alan Smith, James Milner, Shola Ameobi, Michael Owen (Obafemi Martins 55)

Referee: Peter Walton, Attendance: 33,016

Derby County’s promotion to the Premier League for the 2007-2008 season was slightly unexpected and early results suggested this. The Rams’ had already lost 4-0 at Tottenham Hotspur, been beaten 6-0 by Liverpool FC and were due to face a rampant Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium days later. They were already propping up the division but were looking to get their first win of the season against inconsistent Newcastle United.

Newcastle began the evening as favourites to head back to Tyneside with all three points as Sam Allardyce began to settle down into his new management role. His side never really got going though and Derby started well. Roared on by a vocal crowd inside Pride Park, they put together some swift passing moves to start with but were let down by a casual approach inside the visitors’ penalty area. This was totally understandable considering they’d only scored three goals from their first five matches.

Newcastle produced the best moment of the opening 20 minutes. James Milner broke clear after a Derby corner broke down. He found Michael Owen, who rounded goalkeeper Stephen Bywater but made the angle too difficult to try his luck. The England forward held his nerve and crossed the ball instead to defender David Rozenhal, whose effort whistled wide of the post. Owen wouldn’t complete the first half. He went off with a tight groin muscle and as soon as he departed, the Magpies attacking threat diminished.

In truth, the game was largely forgettable. There was plenty of grit and spirit from both sides but the final ball and finish was very poor. However, Derby took their chance six minutes before half-time. Bywater’s clearance was allowed to bounce by Newcastle defenders. Kenny Miller seized his opportunity and struck a dipping effort that flew past Steve Harper and into the net.

Derby could have extended their lead after the interval. Steve Howard had two headed chances but couldn’t find the target with either effort. However, Newcastle’s threat was sporadic and the home side held on for a fantastic and worthy victory. Afterwards, manager Billy Davies said: “I’m delighted with the players and they can take a lot of confidence from this victory.”

Derby failed to win another match in the Premier League all season. Davies was sacked at the end of November and Paul Jewell had no chance whatsoever to rescue the sinking ship. The Rams’ leaked 89 goals; they scored only 20 and amassed a grand total of just 11 points. They remain the worst-ever team to have played in the Premier League.

Newcastle finished just seven points clear of the drop zone in 12th spot but did finish the campaign with fans’ favourite Kevin Keegan back in charge after Allardyce was dismissed in January 2008. This will always remain one of Newcastle’s most embarrassing results. They were the only side in the 2007-2008 Premier League season to be beaten by Derby County.

Referees in the Middle: Steve Bennett

Premier League Career: 1999-2010

First Premier League Match: Derby County 1-3 Middlesbrough (14 August 1999)

Final Premier League Match: Aston Villa 0-1 Blackburn Rovers (9 May 2010)

Steve Bennett spent over 25 years in the middle and achieved some high-profile milestones during his career. He was a no-nonsense referee who would always stick to the strict rules but was also a referee who did his best to not be the centre of attention.

After starting out in the regional, local and non-leagues, Bennett began refereeing in the Football League in 1995. Four years later, he made the jump into the top-flight. His first match was Middlesbrough’s 3-1 away win at Derby County in August 1999.

One of his early appointments in his Premier League career was an ill-disciplined match involving Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United in January 2001. It is rare to see three red cards in the same match but that is what happened at White Hart Lane. Neil Sullivan, Nolberto Solano and Kieron Dyer were all sent for an early shower by Bennett as Tottenham won 4-2.

Mr Bennett has refereed in other tricky situations. In 2004, Tim Cahill scored the only goal of the game at the City of Manchester Stadium (as it was known then) to win all three points for Everton. It was the Aussie’s first goal for his new club and he celebrated by baring his chest to his new supporters. However, this counted as a bookable offence in the eyes of Bennett and having cautioned Cahill earlier, promptly sent him off. The decision left David Moyes speechless and drew criticism from top FIFA officials.

Four years later, he was involved in another flashpoint incident involving a Merseyside club. Manchester United were playing Liverpool FC at Old Trafford when Javier Mascherano was dismissed for constant protesting and arguing with Bennett. The Argentine completely lost his discipline and started using expletive language towards the official. Only the intervention of his teammates and manager Rafa Benitez stopped the matter escalating further. Mascherano later apologised for his actions and admitted his behaviour was “inappropriate.” After this incident, a daily newspaper launched a ‘Shut It’ campaign, which was started to urge footballers to respect the referee and curb their argumentative behaviour.

Steve Bennett was lucky enough to referee the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley when Didier Drogba scored the only goal of a disappointing contest between Chelsea and Manchester United in 2007. He was a lucky omen for the men from west London, also refereeing the 2005 League Cup final in Cardiff against Liverpool FC. The 3-2 victory was Jose Mourinho’s first piece of silverware in English football.

In July 2010, two months after taking control of a final day match between Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, Bennett retired from the frontline and is now a full-time coach, passing on his wise methods onto the younger generation of officials.

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.