Tag Archives: Eric Cantona

Referees in the Middle: Alan Wilkie

Premier League Career: 1993-2000

First Premier League Match: Leeds United 1-1 Chelsea (24 March 1993)

Final Premier League Match: Manchester United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur (6 May 2000)

Alan Wilkie’s Premier League career lasted for just over seven years. A strong-minded official, Wilkie’s time as a top-flight official is probably best associated with being the referee who sent off Eric Cantona at Selhurst Park in January 1995 on the night the temperamental Frenchman launched his kung-fu kick at a Crystal Palace supporter.

Like many of his colleagues and predecessors, Wilkie started out with ambitions of becoming a footballer. A serious knee injury meant his football playing dreams ended in the local leagues, so he turned his attention towards officiating instead. He became a Class 3 referee in 1977 and seven years later, became a linesman in the Football League.

Beginning to officiate as a referee occasionally in 1985, he became a permanent Football League official in 1988. His first match after receiving this promotion was a game in August 1988 in the Third Division between Mansfield Town and Northampton Town which finished 1-1.

Wilkie worked very closely with one of the best referees in the business in those days in Keith Hackett and in 1991, he was selected to run the line for Hackett in the European Cup semi-final, first leg between Marseille and Spartak Moscow. The French side won the first leg on home soil 3-1 and would eventually progress to the final, where they would lose on penalties to Red Star Belgrade.

Included on the list of Premier League referees towards the end of the 1992-1993 season, his first match in the competition came on 24th March 1993 when reigning top-flight champions Leeds United were held to a 1-1 draw by Chelsea at Elland Road. He didn’t take long to brandish his first red card in the competition either, dismissing Tony Cascarino of Chelsea in this match – one of 20 red cards he gave out in his 147 matches in the competition. Wilkie also handed out 428 yellow cards and awarded 27 penalties.

Wilkie, who continued as a Telecommunications electrical engineer throughout his referee days, endured a very busy 1994-1995 Premier League season. He took charge of 25 matches and with 68 yellows and five red cards; Wilkie was often in the centre of the action. In September 1994, Sol Campbell was sent off against Southampton for bringing down Neil Heaney with Spurs winning 1-0. Whilst the red card was probably correct, he also gave the Saints a penalty which was dubious as the foul seemed to start outside the penalty area. Southampton went on to win the match 2-1.

Two weeks later, he gave out a red card to Gordon Watson of Sheffield Wednesday after only six minutes of their game against Leeds United. It remains one of the fastest dismissals in Premier League history. Then in March 1995, he retired injured during the West Ham United vs. Norwich City fixture at Upton Park. One of his linesmen on the day, Martin Sims made a severe error by sending off the wrong Norwich player. He gave Andy Johnson his marching orders when Spencer Prior was the man who should have been dismissed. However, it was an incident two months earlier that would dominate Wilkie’s season.

In January 1995, Crystal Palace and Manchester United were playing at Selhurst Park when early in the second half, Eric Cantona kicked out at Palace defender Richard Shaw. The foul was spotted by Eddie Walsh and Wilkie had no hesitation and no option but to send Cantona off for the fifth time in his Manchester United career. As he was leaving the field, the Frenchman produced a kung-fu style kick at a Crystal Palace supporter who was taunting Cantona. Wilkie, who was talking to Andy Cole, later said: “It was only in the dressing room that one of the assistants told me what he had done.”

Wilkie became the first Premier League referee to handle 100 games in the competition. The match was his 10th appointment in the 1997-1998 season which was an uneventful 0-0 draw between Coventry City and Leeds United in October 1997. Three years later, he stepped out for his most prestigious appointment of his career which was the League Cup final involving Leicester City and Tranmere Rovers at Wembley. Sadly for Alan, he sustained a calf injury after 60 minutes and had to be replaced in Leicester’s 2-1 victory by the fourth official on that day, Phil Richards.

In his penultimate match, he endured a drama-filled afternoon between Bradford City and Derby County which ended in a 4-4 draw. Unbelievably, Wilkie gave four penalties and also sent off Rory Delap in the first half of this Good Friday goal fest at Valley Parade. His final Premier League match before retirement was the game in which Manchester United lifted their sixth Premier League title after beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 in May 2000.

In 2002, Wilkie published his autobiography with the title linked to the night he sent Cantona off at Selhurst Park. It was called “One Night at the Palace: A Referee’s Story.” He now acts as a match delegate for the Premier League and Football League and he also works for the FA as a regional manager for referees in North East England.

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Shock Results: Swindon Town 2-2 Manchester United (March 1994)

Goalscorers: Roy Keane 13, Luc Nijholt 36, Paul Ince 62, Jan Aage Fjortoft 83

Teams:

Swindon Town: Fraser Digby, Brian Kilcline, Shaun Taylor, Adrian Whitbread, John Moncur, Kevin Horlock (Martin Ling 79), Luc Nijholt, Frank McAvennie (Keith Scott 71), Nicky Summerbee, Lawrie Sanchez, Jan Aage Fjortoft

Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin, Paul Parker, Gary Pallister, Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Brian McClair, Eric Cantona (SENT OFF), Mark Hughes

Referee: Brian Hill, Attendance: 18,102

Going into this match at The County Ground in March 1994, the majority of the football fraternity were predicting Manchester United to win by a landslide scoreline. They visited bottom club Swindon Town, who had been the whipping boys for much of the campaign. Just a week earlier, the Robins had shipped seven goals at St James’ Park against Newcastle United.

It took the league leaders just 13 minutes to open the scoring. After a series of crunching tackles in the middle of the park, Eric Cantona steered a pass through into the path of Mark Hughes. The Welshman avoided Brian Kilcline’s sliding tackle and had the awareness to cross the ball into the box for the onrushing Roy Keane to head home. It was a rare headed goal for the Irishman but his eighth of a very productive first season with the Red Devils.

It was a stormy game and referee Brian Hill was to have his work cut out. Hughes was lucky to avoid further sanction after a confrontation with a supporter. Having been pushed into the crowd by Shaun Taylor, words were exchanged and feeling provoked, the forward had to be restrained.

Swindon equalised nine minutes before the interval. Frank McAvennie found some space and played the ball back for fellow midfielder Luc Nijholt to score his first-ever goal in English football. His shot was on-target but took a nasty ricochet off Keane which was the decisive contact to leave Peter Schmeichel helpless. The reigning Premier League champions were having to work extremely hard but regained their lead on 62 minutes. Nicky Summerbee failed to clear in the penalty area and the ball fell nicely for Paul Ince to cleanly produce a strike that left Fraser Digby completely beaten in the Swindon goal. United were now back infront but a game that had been simmering reached its boiling point shortly afterwards.

Cantona got involved in an exchange with John Moncur. Both players aggressively tackled each other before the Frenchman lost his temper and stamped on Moncur as the midfielder lay prostate on the floor. Players started surrounding the referee and after consultation from his linesman, Gerry Lee, Hill sent Cantona off for the second time in the season. Replays showed afterwards that the talismanic forward could have little complaint in the final sentence handed out by the referee.

Down to 10 men, Alex Ferguson’s side were now just desperate to leave with three points but they were to be denied by a spirited Swindon. With eight minutes to go, Jan Aage Fjortoft scored his 10th goal in nine matches. Schmeichel’s weak punch prompted a goalmouth scramble. Several Swindon players had a chance to score but it was the Norwegian who provided the decisive touch.

The side from Wiltshire had just taken a deserved and improbable point off the champions. Swindon went down at the end of the season but none of the 20 other teams that season scored as many goals as they did in the two league encounters against Manchester United, finding the net four times against the Red Devils who would retain their Premier League crown.

Iconic Moments: Cantona returns (October 1995)

It was billed as ‘The Return of The King.’ After serving an eight-month suspension for his kung-fu kick at a Crystal Palace supporter, Eric Cantona was ready to return to the Manchester United first-team. It nearly never happened. He had requested a transfer in the summer, feeling he was being victimised by the English media for his actions on that evening at Selhurst Park. Alex Ferguson had managed to convince him to stay and he was ready for his return to Old Trafford against arch-rivals Liverpool FC.

The fans were generally thrilled. It was a huge event for them. They’d felt Manchester United’s season without silverware in 1994-1995 had been sparked by the Cantona suspension and were keen to get their title back.

He made an amazing start, setting up a goal in the opening minute for Nicky Butt. Although Robbie Fowler scored twice to give Liverpool FC the lead, this day was all about Cantona. With 20 minutes left, Ryan Giggs was tripped by Jamie Redknapp in the penalty area and referee David Elleray pointed to the penalty spot. The stage was set for the talismanic Frenchman to seal his comeback with a goal. He sent David James the wrong way to make it 2-2 which is how the game ended.

It was a terrific match and a point each was a fair result but Sunday, 1st October 1995 was all about the return of Eric Cantona. His quest to turn the 1995-1996 title race into a one-man crusade had begun.

Iconic Moments: Cantona joins Manchester United (November 1992)

In the very first Premier League season, one of the pre-season title favourites were Manchester United. However, they were misfiring badly, struggling in mid-table by the middle of November and falling off the pace of surprise pacesetters Norwich City.

Manager Alex Ferguson needed a new forward to help the team shoot themselves to the top. He ended up with one of the best bargains in the history of the football transfer. His initial top target was Sheffield Wednesday’s David Hirst but he rejected the move to stay in Yorkshire. His eventual buy started when Leeds United owner Bill Fotherby had telephoned his counterpart at Manchester United, Martin Edwards to enquire whether they would be willing to sell full-back Denis Irwin to the reigning champions.

That enquiry was quickly rebuffed by the Red Devils. At the same time, Edwards was asked by Ferguson to enquire about the availability of talismanic Frenchman Eric Cantona. Fotherby then spoke to Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson, who confirmed he would be happy to get Cantona off his roster. Cantona had sparkled in helping Leeds win the last Football League title in 1992 but he was a difficult person to please and Wilkinson decided that his presence at Elland Road was now having an impact on squad harmony.

A few days later, Cantona’s move across the Pennines was done. Manchester United paid Leeds just £1.2 million to sign him on the 26th November. 10 days later, he made his debut as a substitute in the Manchester Derby and the rest was history.

Cantona was considered the final jigsaw in the puzzle at Old Trafford. Manchester United stormed to their first league title in 26 years and the Frenchman won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in 1994. As future captain Roy Keane said: “Collar turned up, back straight, chest stuck out, Eric glided into the arena as if he owned the place.”

In five years in Manchester, Cantona won four league titles and two FA Cups, scoring 82 times before retiring in 1997. His move still remains one of the most important transfers in the first 25 years of the Premier League.

Premier League Rewind: 2nd-4th March 1996

Results: Coventry City 2-2 West Ham United, Leeds United 0-1 Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City 1-1 Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough 0-2 Everton, Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Arsenal, Sheffield Wednesday 1-3 Nottingham Forest, Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Southampton, Wimbledon 1-1 Chelsea, Liverpool FC 3-0 Aston Villa, Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester United

Just over six weeks earlier, Newcastle United had established a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. Kevin Keegan’s side looked to be virtually uncatchable. Then, the jitters started to hit his team.

Defeat at West Ham United, followed by a 3-3 draw at relegation-haunted Manchester City meant their lead had been chopped to just four points by Manchester United, who were running into form at just the right time. The Red Devils had won their last five Premier League matches and they were heading to St. James’ Park with the momentum. The eyes of the footballing world were on Tyneside for a Monday Night encounter on 4th March 1996.

Newcastle made the brighter start and should have led by half-time. Peter Schmeichel had to deny Les Ferdinand twice from close-range before Philippe Albert’s free-kick hit the crossbar with the Danish goalkeeper beaten. The visitors had survived the onslaught and scored crucially six minutes into the second half. Eric Cantona peeled away on the back post and met Phil Neville’s cross with a clean strike which defeated Pavel Srnicek and gave Alex Ferguson’s side a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the match. Newcastle still had a one-point lead but their first home loss of the Premier League season prompted the bookmakers to make the Red Devils the new title favourites.

Liverpool FC couldn’t be ruled out though. They were just six points off the top spot after tearing Aston Villa apart 24 hours earlier. They scored three goals in the first eight minutes to register a 3-0 victory. Roy Evans’ side were now unbeaten in 13 top-flight matches after this clinical display. Steve McManaman scored inside the first 60 seconds and Robbie Fowler added two more goals to his growing tally. It was only Aston Villa’s second league reverse of 1996 and they’d both come at the hands of Liverpool FC. Their outside title challenge had been destroyed on Merseyside.

Whilst the top four were playing against each other, Tottenham Hotspur continued their strong season under the guidance of Gerry Francis. Jason Dozzell’s 64th minute goal was enough to defeat Southampton 1-0 at White Hart Lane and drop Southampton into the bottom three. Manchester City climbed out of the relegation places after a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with defending champions Blackburn Rovers, who were mired in mid-table. Blackburn’s home form was strong all season but away from home was a different story. They’d recorded just one away victory to this point in their title defence.

Bottom of the table were Bolton Wanderers but they gave their faint survival hopes a real boost with a surprising 1-0 win at Elland Road over Leeds United. Gudni Bergsson scored the only goal of the game as they made it back-to-back victories on their travels. Leeds had now lost their last four games and seemed to be in no form whatsoever with a League Cup final date with Aston Villa looming.

Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest returned to winning ways with a 3-1 success at Hillsborough over Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry’s 2-2 draw with West Ham United kept them clear of the bottom three for now.

What else happened in March 1996?

  • 16 school pupils and one teacher are killed in a massacre at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland. The gunman, an unemployed former shopkeeper commits suicide.
  • The European Union prohibits exports of British beef as a result of the BSE crisis.
  • Nelson Mandela is granted a divorce from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
  • Braveheart wins Best Picture at the 68th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
  • John Howard defeats Paul Keating in federal elections to become the new Australian Prime Minister.
  • Chechen rebels attack the Russian government headquarters in Grozny. 200 people are killed.
  • Sri Lanka defeat Australia to win the 1996 Cricket World Cup.

Memorable Matches: Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester United (March 1996)

Goalscorer: Eric Cantona 52

Teams:

Newcastle United: Pavel Srnicek, John Beresford, Philippe Albert, Steve Howey, Warren Barton, David Batty, Rob Lee, Peter Beardsley, David Ginola, Faustino Asprilla, Les Ferdinand

Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, Phil Neville, Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Lee Sharpe, Eric Cantona, Andy Cole

Referee: David Elleray, Attendance: 36,584

On Monday, 4 March 1996, the eyes of the football world were fixed on Tyneside and the eagerly-anticipated meeting between the top two in the 1995-1996 title race. Newcastle United had set the pace all season but they were now under the most scrutiny they’d ever experienced.

In mid-January, Newcastle beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 to go a staggering 12 points clear but February had brought about a damaging defeat away to West Ham United and a 3-3 draw with relegation candidates Manchester City. They arrived into the match just four points clear of Manchester United.

The Red Devils’ were in great form. Alex Ferguson’s side had strung together a five-game winning sequence which had included a 6-0 thumping of the league’s bottom side Bolton in their last away match. They had the confidence and the momentum. This looked like being the most crucial game of the season for both teams.

It was Andy Cole’s first return to St James’ Park since his surprise departure 14 months earlier in a £7 million transfer to Manchester United but he and Eric Cantona barely got a look-in during a first half completely dominated by the hosts. Unfortunately for Kevin Keegan’s side, Peter Schmeichel was saving his best form for this match.

Twice in the opening five minutes, Schmeichel show his uncompromising attitude to the game by denying Newcastle star striker and top scorer Les Ferdinand. He had no chance though with a Philippe Albert free-kick. The Belgian defender was desperately unlucky to see his effort crash off the crossbar. From the rebound, Ferdinand hoisted the ball over the top. The Newcastle faithful might have been beginning to get the feeling that this wasn’t going to be their night.

Six minutes into the second half, Manchester United struck the significant blow in clinical fashion. Cole was involved in the build-up, evading challenges on the edge of the penalty area. Phil Neville produced a delightful cross to the back post, where an unmarked Cantona arrived. He hit his shot into the ground and there was enough power on it to spin past Pavel Srnicek’s dive. The celebrations from Cantona’s teammates indicated what a big goal this was.

Newcastle had 61% possession in total and 16 attempts on goal but simply couldn’t find a way through. This was their first home defeat of the season and it trimmed their advantage down to just a single point, but with a game in hand. After this result, Manchester United were made favourites by the bookies’ to win the title for the first time since the 1995-1996 season began.

Ferguson’s side grew even stronger after this result. They dropped just five more points in their remaining matches and eventually won their third Premier League title by four points. This was the night where the destiny of the 1995-1996 championship swayed in favour of Manchester United.

Seasonal Records: 1995-1996

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 1995-1996 Premier League season which was the first where just 20 clubs took part.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 25 7 6 73 35 +38 82
2 Newcastle United 38 24 6 8 66 37 +29 78
3 Liverpool FC 38 20 11 7 70 34 +36 71
4 Aston Villa 38 18 9 11 52 35 +17 63
5 Arsenal 38 17 12 9 49 32 +17 63
6 Everton 38 17 10 11 64 44 +20 61
7 Blackburn Rovers 38 18 7 13 61 47 +14 61
8 Tottenham Hotspur 38 16 13 9 50 38 +12 61
9 Nottingham Forest 38 15 13 10 50 54 -4 58
10 West Ham United 38 14 9 15 43 52 -9 51
11 Chelsea 38 12 14 12 46 44 +2 50
12 Middlesbrough 38 11 10 17 35 50 -15 43
13 Leeds United 38 12 7 19 40 57 -17 43
14 Wimbledon 38 10 11 17 55 70 -15 41
15 Sheffield Wednesday 38 10 10 18 48 61 -13 40
16 Coventry City 38 8 14 16 42 60 -18 38
17 Southampton 38 9 11 18 34 52 -18 38
18 Manchester City 38 9 11 18 33 58 -25 38
19 Queens Park Rangers 38 9 6 23 38 57 -19 33
20 Bolton Wanderers 38 8 5 25 39 71 -32 29

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 988
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Newcastle United (UEFA Cup), Aston Villa (UEFA Cup), Arsenal (UEFA Cup), Liverpool FC (UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup)
Longest winning run 6 games (Manchester United)
Longest unbeaten run 15 games (Liverpool FC)
Longest winless run 14 games (Coventry City & Wimbledon)
Longest losing run 8 games (Manchester City & Middlesbrough)
Highest attendance 53,926 (Manchester United vs. Nottingham Forest)
Lowest attendance 6,352 (Wimbledon vs. Sheffield Wednesday)

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Les Ferdinand (Newcastle United)
PFA Young Player of the Year Robbie Fowler (Liverpool FC)
Football Writers’ Award Eric Cantona (Manchester United)
PFA Team of the Year David James, Alan Wright, Tony Adams, Ugo Ehiogu, Gary Neville, Ruud Gullit, Steve Stone, Rob Lee, David Ginola, Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand
Manager of the Year Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
Goal of the Season Tony Yeboah (Wimbledon vs. LEEDS UNITED)

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Matt Le Tissier Southampton vs. Nottingham Forest 3-4 19th August 1995
Robbie Fowler (4) Liverpool FC vs. Bolton Wanderers 5-2 23rd September 1995
Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers vs. Coventry City 5-1 23rd September 1995
Tony Yeboah Wimbledon vs. Leeds United 2-4 23rd September 1995
Les Ferdinand Newcastle United vs. Wimbledon 6-1 21st October 1995
Gary McAllister Leeds United vs. Coventry City 3-1 28th October 1995
Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers vs. Nottingham Forest 7-0 18th November 1995
Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers vs. West Ham United 4-2 2nd December 1995
Dion Dublin Sheffield Wednesday vs. Coventry City 4-3 4th December 1995
Savo Milosevic Aston Villa vs. Coventry City 4-1 16th December 1995
Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC vs. Arsenal 3-1 23rd December 1995
Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers vs. Bolton Wanderers 3-1 3rd February 1996
Gavin Peacock Chelsea vs. Middlesbrough 5-0 4th February 1996
Alan Shearer Tottenham Hotspur vs. Blackburn Rovers 2-3 16th March 1996
Mark Hughes Chelsea vs. Leeds United 4-1 13th April 1996
Andrei Kanchelskis Sheffield Wednesday vs. Everton 2-5 27th April 1996

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers 31
2 Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC 28
3 Les Ferdinand Newcastle United 25
4 Dwight Yorke Aston Villa 17
5= Andrei Kanchelskis Everton 16
5= Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur 16
7= Ian Wright Arsenal 15
7= Chris Armstrong Tottenham Hotspur 15
9= Eric Cantona Manchester United 14
9= Stan Collymore Liverpool FC 14
9= Dion Dublin Coventry City 14
12 John Spencer Chelsea 13
13= Savo Milosevic Aston Villa 12
13= Tony Yeboah Leeds United 12
13= David Hirst Sheffield Wednesday 12
16= Andy Cole Manchester United 11
16= Dennis Bergkamp Arsenal 11
16= Robbie Earle Wimbledon 11
16= Ryan Giggs Manchester United 11
20= Tony Cottee West Ham United 10
20= Paul Scholes Manchester United 10
20= Dean Holdsworth Wimbledon 10
20= Danny Dichio Queens Park Rangers 10
20= Julian Dicks West Ham United 10
25 Graham Stuart Everton 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Blackburn Rovers 7-0 Nottingham Forest 18th November 1995
Bolton Wanderers 0-6 Manchester United 25th February 1996
Liverpool FC 6-0 Manchester City 28th October 1995
Newcastle United 6-1 Wimbledon 21st October 1995
Manchester United 5-0 Nottingham Forest 28th April 1996
Liverpool FC 5-0 Leeds United 20th January 1996
Chelsea 5-0 Middlesbrough 5th February 1996
Coventry City 5-0 Blackburn Rovers 9th December 1995
Sheffield Wednesday 6-2 Leeds United 16th December 1995
Blackburn Rovers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd September 1995

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
8 Sheffield Wednesday 6-2 Leeds United 16th December 1995
7 Blackburn Rovers 7-0 Nottingham Forest 18th November 1995
7 Newcastle United 6-1 Wimbledon 21st October 1995
7 Liverpool FC 5-2 Bolton Wanderers 23rd September 1995
7 Sheffield Wednesday 2-5 Everton 27th April 1996
7 Liverpool FC 4-3 Newcastle United 3rd April 1996
7 Southampton 3-4 Nottingham Forest 19th August 1995
7 Sheffield Wednesday 4-3 Coventry City 4th December 1995
6 Bolton Wanderers 0-6 Manchester United 25th February 1996
6 Liverpool FC 6-0 Manchester City 28th October 1995
6 Blackburn Rovers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd September 1995
6 Nottingham Forest 1-5 Blackburn Rovers 13th April 1996
6 Arsenal 4-2 Sheffield Wednesday 21st November 1995
6 Wimbledon 2-4 Manchester United 3rd February 1996
6 Liverpool FC 4-2 Nottingham Forest 1st January 1996
6 Aston Villa 4-2 Queens Park Rangers 9th March 1996
6 Arsenal 4-2 Southampton 23rd September 1995
6 Blackburn Rovers 4-2 West Ham United 2nd December 1995
6 West Ham United 4-2 Manchester City 23rd March 1996
6 Middlesbrough 4-2 West Ham United 23rd December 1995

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Mark Platts Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Wimbledon 16 years, 8 months, 18 days 10th February 1996
Andy Campbell Middlesbrough 3-1 Sheffield Wednesday 16 years, 11 months, 18 days 5th April 1996
Neil Finn Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United 17 years, 3 days 1st January 1996
Jody Morris Chelsea 5-0 Middlesbrough 17 years, 1 month, 14 days 5th February 1996
Michael Branch Manchester United 2-0 Everton 17 years, 4 months, 3 days 21st February 1996
Nigel Quashie Manchester United 2-1 Queens Park Rangers 17 years, 5 months, 10 days 30th December 1995
Alan Maybury Aston Villa 3-0 Leeds United 17 years, 5 months, 26 days 3rd February 1996
Rio Ferdinand West Ham United 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday 17 years, 5 months, 28 days 5th May 1996
Harry Kewell Leeds United 0-1 Middlesbrough 17 years, 6 months, 8 days 30th March 1996
Frank Lampard West Ham United 3-2 Coventry City 17 years, 7 months, 11 days 31st January 1996

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Ray Wilkins Nottingham Forest 3-0 Queens Park Rangers 39 years, 7 months, 21 days 5th May 1996
Gordon Strachan Nottingham Forest 0-0 Coventry City 39 years, 2 months, 8 days 17th April 1996
Bryan Robson Middlesbrough 4-2 West Ham United 38 years, 11 months, 12 days 23rd December 1995
Steve Ogrizovic Coventry City 0-0 Leeds United 38 years, 7 months, 23 days 5th May 1996
Bruce Grobbelaar Aston Villa 3-0 Southampton 38 years, 5 months, 23 days 8th April 1996
Les Sealey Newcastle United 3-0 West Ham United 38 years, 5 months, 18 days 18th March 1996
Alvin Martin West Ham United 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday 37 years, 9 months, 6 days 5th May 1996
Neville Southall Everton 1-0 Aston Villa 37 years, 7 months, 19 days 5th May 1996
Nigel Spink Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Aston Villa 37 years, 4 months, 15 days 23rd December 1995
Mick Harford Southampton 0-0 Wimbledon 37 years, 2 months, 23 days 5th May 1996

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Peter Schmeichel Manchester United 18
2= David James Liverpool FC 16
2= David Seaman Arsenal 16
4= Mark Bosnich Aston Villa 15
4= Neville Southall Everton 15
6= Ian Walker Tottenham Hotspur 11
6= Ludek Miklosko West Ham United 11
8= Tim Flowers Blackburn Rovers 10
8= Dmitri Kharine Chelsea 10
8= Dave Beasant Southampton 10

Premier League Rewind: 18th-20th September 1993

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

The 1993-1994 Premier League season was starting to slowly take shape in September 1993. There were some big games on the weekend of 18th-20th September which produced some interesting stories.

The biggest match-up was the latest in the rivalry of the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool FC. Both sides had made positive starts to the campaign and were in the chasing pack behind early season pacesetters Manchester United and Arsenal. In the 27th minute, the home side took the lead which led to some extraordinary scenes afterwards. Andy Hinchcliffe’s corner was cleared at the near post by Steve McManaman. It only managed to find Mark Ward, who rifled a shot into the bottom corner of the net. As he went off celebrating, Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar got into a heated confrontation with McManaman which saw handbags thrown and luckily no more than that. Tony Cottee’s goal five minutes from time ensured Howard Kendall’s men would finish the weekend inside the top four.

With Manchester United and Arsenal playing each other on the Sunday afternoon, Blackburn Rovers had the opportunity to take top spot briefly. They missed their chance at home to newly-promoted West Ham United. A goal in each half from Lee Chapman and Trevor Morley spearheaded the Hammers’ to an unlikely 2-0 victory at Ewood Park. It was already Blackburn’s second home loss of the campaign.

It was a miserable weekend for Oldham Athletic, who took a pasting at free-flowing Tottenham Hotspur. Ossie Ardiles loved his sides to attack and they did this at White Hart Lane to devastating effect. Inside nine minutes, Oldham were 3-0 down and ended up losing 5-0. Teddy Sheringham continued his fine start to the season, scoring twice. Sheringham’s goals kept Tottenham in the early season mix. Unfortunately, injury would strike a month later which seriously hurt his side’s form afterwards.

Fresh from scoring the winning goal a week earlier to beat the reigning champions, Gavin Peacock was at it again at Highfield Road. He opened the scoring in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Coventry City. Steve Morgan equalised for a share of the spoils. The points were also shared in games involving Swindon Town and Newcastle United at the County Ground and Queens Park Rangers vs. Norwich City at Loftus Road. Les Ferdinand rescued a point for QPR in their 2-2 draw with the Canaries. His 83rd minute goal denied Norwich another impressive success away from home.

On Super Sunday, the top two met at Old Trafford. Manchester United bounced back to winning ways with a stunning free-kick from Eric Cantona good enough to beat Arsenal 1-0. It took the Red Devils’ three points clear at the top of the table. The action ended with Wimbledon beating Manchester City by the same scoreline on Monday Night Football. Robbie Earle scored the only goal to inflict a first defeat on Brian Horton as City manager.

What else happened in September 1993?

  • The 1,000th Boeing 747 jumbo jet is produced.
  • Sci-Fi drama “The X-Files” makes its debut on American television, launching the careers of Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny.
  • Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf are the men’s and women’s singles champions at the US Open at Flushing Meadows.
  • The USA beat Europe 15-13 to win the 30th Ryder Cup at The Belfry.
  • Nearly 10,000 people are killed when an earthquake strikes the region of Latur, India which measures 6.4 on the Richter scale.
  • In Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Leader Yasser Arafat famously shake hands after signing the Oslo I Accord; temporarily bringing peace to the Middle East.

Great Goals: Eric Cantona – MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Sunderland (December 1996)

The 1996-1997 season would be Eric Cantona’s final campaign as a professional footballer. The Manchester United skipper was a genius on-the-pitch and against Sunderland, he showed why he had so many adoring fans.

United were already cruising to victory against the newly-promoted Black Cats when the Frenchman produced another sublime piece of quality. Receiving possession from just inside the halfway line, Cantona beats two defenders and sets off towards the Sunderland goal. He exchanges passes with Brian McClair before receiving possession back and going for the cheeky finish.

Spotting Lionel Perez off his line, the talismanic forward chips the ball over Perez and into the net off the post. He then just stands in an iconic celebration to take in the acclaim of the crowd of Old Trafford who received a pre-xmas gift of class and coolness.

Manchester United won the game 5-0 and whilst they won their fourth Premier League title in five seasons, Sunderland were relegated on the final day.

Seasonal Records: 1993-1994

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the second season of top-flight – the 1993-1994 FA Carling Premiership.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 42 27 11 4 80 38 +42 92
2 Blackburn Rovers 42 25 9 8 63 36 +27 84
3 Newcastle United 42 23 8 11 82 41 +41 77
4 Arsenal 42 18 17 7 53 28 +25 71
5 Leeds United 42 18 16 8 65 39 +26 70
6 Wimbledon 42 18 11 13 56 53 +3 65
7 Sheffield Wednesday 42 16 16 10 76 54 +22 64
8 Liverpool FC 42 17 9 16 59 55 +4 60
9 Queens Park Rangers 42 16 12 14 62 61 +1 60
10 Aston Villa 42 15 12 15 46 50 -4 57
11 Coventry City 42 14 14 14 43 45 -2 56
12 Norwich City 42 12 17 13 65 61 +4 53
13 West Ham United 42 13 13 16 47 58 -11 52
14 Chelsea 42 13 12 17 49 53 -4 51
15 Tottenham Hotspur 42 11 12 19 54 59 -5 45
16 Manchester City 42 9 18 15 38 49 -11 45
17 Everton 42 12 8 22 42 63 -21 44
18 Southampton 42 12 7 23 49 66 -17 43
19 Ipswich Town 42 9 16 17 35 58 -23 43
20 Sheffield United 42 8 18 16 42 60 -18 42
21 Oldham Athletic 42 9 13 20 42 68 -26 40
22 Swindon Town 42 5 15 22 47 100 -53 30

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1,195
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Aston Villa (UEFA Cup), Blackburn Rovers (UEFA Cup), Newcastle United (UEFA Cup), Arsenal (UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup), Chelsea (UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup)
Longest winning run 8 games (Manchester United)
Longest unbeaten run 22 games (Manchester United)
Longest winless run 15 games (Swindon Town)
Longest losing run 7 games (Tottenham Hotspur)
Highest attendance 45,347 (Aston Villa vs. Liverpool FC)
Lowest attendance 4,739 (Wimbledon vs. Coventry City)

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Eric Cantona (Manchester United)
PFA Young Player of the Year Andy Cole (Newcastle United)
Football Writers’ Award Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers)
PFA Team of the Year Tim Flowers, Gary Kelly, Denis Irwin, Tony Adams, Gary Pallister, David Batty, Gary McAllister, Paul Ince, Peter Beardsley, Eric Cantona, Alan Shearer
Manager of the Year Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
LMA Manager of the Year Joe Kinnear (Wimbledon)
Goal of the Season Rod Wallace (LEEDS UNITED vs. Tottenham Hotspur)

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Mick Quinn Arsenal vs. Coventry City 0-3 14th August 1993
Tony Cottee Everton vs. Sheffield United 4-2 21st August 1993
Kevin Campbell Arsenal vs. Ipswich Town 4-0 11th September 1993
Efan Ekoku (4 goals) Everton vs. Norwich City 1-5 25th September 1993
Alan Shearer Leeds United vs. Blackburn Rovers 3-3 23rd October 1993
Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC vs. Southampton 4-2 30th October 1993
Peter Beardsley Newcastle United vs. Wimbledon 4-0 30th October 1993
Bradley Allen Everton vs. Queens Park Rangers 0-3 20th November 1993
Andy Cole Newcastle United vs. Liverpool FC 3-0 21st November 1993
Kevin Campbell Swindon Town vs. Arsenal 0-4 27th December 1993
Tony Cottee Everton vs. Swindon Town 6-2 15th January 1994
Jan-Aage Fjortoft Swindon Town vs. Coventry City 3-1 5th February 1994
Dean Saunders Aston Villa vs. Swindon Town 5-0 12th February 1994
Matt Le Tissier Southampton vs. Liverpool FC 4-2 14th February 1994
Andy Cole Newcastle United vs. Coventry City 4-0 23rd February 1994
Ian Wright Ipswich Town vs. Arsenal 1-5 5th March 1994
Ian Wright Southampton vs. Arsenal 0-4 19th March 1994
Matt Le Tissier Norwich City vs. Southampton 4-5 9th April 1994
Dean Holdsworth Wimbledon vs. Oldham Athletic 3-0 26th April 1994

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Andy Cole Newcastle United 34
2 Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers 31
3= Chris Sutton Norwich City 25
3= Matt Le Tissier Southampton 25
5 Ian Wright Arsenal 23
6 Peter Beardsley Newcastle United 21
7 Mark Bright Sheffield Wednesday 19
8 Eric Cantona Manchester United 18
9= Rod Wallace Leeds United 17
9= Dean Holdsworth Wimbledon 17
11 Les Ferdinand Queens Park Rangers 16
11= Tony Cottee Everton 16
13 Kevin Campbell Arsenal 14
13= Ian Rush Liverpool FC 14
13= Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur 14
16 Ryan Giggs Manchester United 13
16= Trevor Morley West Ham United 13
16= Mark Stein Chelsea 13
17= Mark Hughes Manchester United 12
17= Gordon Watson Sheffield Wednesday 12
17= Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC 12
17= Efan Ekoku Norwich City 12
17= Jan-Aage Fjortoft Swindon Town 12
24= Brian Deane Leeds United 11
24= John Fashanu Wimbledon 11

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Newcastle United 7-1 Swindon Town 12th March 1994
Manchester United 5-0 Sheffield Wednesday 16th March 1994
Swindon Town 0-5 Leeds United 7th May 1994
Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 West Ham United 18th December 1993
Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 Ipswich Town 23rd April 1994
Swindon Town 0-5 Liverpool FC 22nd August 1993
Aston Villa 5-0 Swindon Town 12th February 1994
Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 Oldham Athletic 18th September 1993
Everton 6-2 Swindon Town 15th January 1994
Newcastle United 5-1 Aston Villa 27th April 1994

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
9 Norwich City 4-5 Southampton 9th April 1994
8 Newcastle United 7-1 Swindon Town 12th March 1994
8 Everton 6-2 Swindon Town 15th January 1994
7 Oldham Athletic 2-5 Manchester United 29th December 1993
7 Norwich City 3-4 Queens Park Rangers 12th March 1994
7 Chelsea 4-3 Tottenham Hotspur 27th February 1994
6 Wimbledon 4-2 Newcastle United 12th February 1994
6 Newcastle United 5-1 Aston Villa 27th April 1994
6 Queens Park Rangers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd October 1993
6 Chelsea 4-2 Everton 3rd January 1994
6 Southampton 4-2 Liverpool FC 14th February 1994
6 Ipswich Town 1-5 Arsenal 5th March 1994
6 Everton 1-5 Norwich City 25th September 1993
6 Tottenham Hotspur 3-3 Liverpool FC 18th December 1993
6 Sheffield Wednesday 3-3 Swindon Town 29th December 1993
6 Liverpool FC 4-2 Southampton 30th October 1993
6 Liverpool FC 3-3 Manchester United 4th January 1994
6 Leeds United 3-3 Blackburn Rovers 23rd October 1993
6 Everton 4-2 Chelsea 5th February 1994
6 Sheffield Wednesday 3-3 Norwich City 1st September 1993

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
David Beresford Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Oldham Athletic 17 years, 13 days 24th November 1993
Stephen Carr Ipswich Town 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur 17 years, 28 days 26th September 1993
Willie Boland Coventry City 1-1 West Ham United 18 years, 15 days 21st August 1993
Darren Eadie Queens Park Rangers 2-2 Norwich City 18 years, 3 months, 8 days 18th September 1993
Lee Briscoe Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Sheffield Wednesday 18 years, 4 months, 6 days 5th February 1994
Neal Bartlett Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Southampton 18 years, 4 months, 14 days 21st August 1993
Andy Turner Newcastle United 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur 18 years, 4 months, 22 days 14th August 1993
Robbie Fowler Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool FC 18 years, 5 months, 16 days 25th September 1993
Chris Holland Newcastle United 2-0 Ipswich Town 18 years, 6 months, 11 days 22nd March 1994
Michael Duberry Chelsea 1-2 Coventry City 18 years, 6 months, 20 days 4th May 1994

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Trevor Francis Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Coventry City 39 years, 7 months, 1 day 20th November 1993
Kevin Moran Blackburn Rovers 0-0 Ipswich Town 38 years, 8 days 7th May 1994
Ray Wilkins Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Queens Park Rangers 37 years, 7 months, 23 days 7th May 1994
Peter Reid Southampton 3-1 Chelsea 37 years, 6 months, 7 days 27th December 1993
Bryan Robson Manchester United 0-0 Coventry City 37 years, 3 months, 27 days 8th May 1994
Gordon Strachan Swindon Town 0-5 Leeds United 37 years, 2 months, 28 days 7th May 1994
John Wark Blackburn Rovers 0-0 Ipswich Town 36 years, 9 months, 3 days 7th May 1994
Steve Ogrizovic Manchester United 0-0 Coventry City 36 years, 7 months, 26 days 8th May 1994
Mal Donaghy Chelsea 1-2 Coventry City 36 years, 7 months, 21 days 4th May 1994
Glenn Hoddle Chelsea 3-2 Sheffield United 36 years, 6 months, 10 days 7th May 1994

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 David Seaman Arsenal 20
2 Peter Schmeichel Manchester United 15
3 Ludek Miklosko West Ham United 14
4 Tim Flowers Southampton & Blackburn Rovers 13
5 Hans Segers Wimbledon 12
6= Steve Ogrizovic Coventry City 11
6= Dimitri Kharine Chelsea 11
6= Neville Southall Wimbledon 11
9= Mark Bosnich Aston Villa 10
9= Bryan Gunn Norwich City 10

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.