Tag Archives: Joe Kinnear

Premier League Files: Robbie Earle

Premier League Career: Wimbledon (1992-2000)

Robbie Earle spent his entire playing career with just two clubs. He played professionally for 18 years until a nasty injury forced him to quit the game he loved in November 2000. In that time, he became a cult hero at Port Vale and was a major part of the ‘The Crazy Gang’ squad at Wimbledon that often was able to defy the odds against relegation.

Earle’s youth career started at Stoke City but a broken leg put paid to any hopes of a professional deal with the Potteries. Stoke’s local rivals Port Vale took a chance on Earle and he signed a pro contract with them in 1982. He spent nine years with Vale, helping them during that time from the Fourth Division to the Second Division in 1989.

An attacking midfielder who loved to score goals, Earle was well-known for late runs into the penalty area and was a formidable competitor in heading challenges. He won a regular place in the Port Vale team for the start of the 1984-1985 campaign. He showed his durability by making 142 consecutive appearances for Vale between September 1984 and January 1987. That run ended with a groin strain that required a hernia operation and forced him to miss most of the early part of the 1987-1988 campaign. Considered one of the best midfielders to play for the club, Earle would feature 357 times and score 90 goals. He was sold to Wimbledon for a fee of £775,000 in July 1991.

His first year in south London was his best in terms of goalscoring return, scoring 14 times despite Wimbledon having three managers during the course of the season. His strikes kept them in the top-flight which became the Premier League in 1992. He scored seven times in the inaugural season of the new top division in English football and another nine goals in 1993-1994 when Wimbledon finished above several elite clubs including Liverpool FC, Aston Villa and Chelsea to finish sixth in the table.

Injury restricted Earle to just nine appearances in 1994-1995 but he regained fitness for the following season and was appointed club captain ahead of the 1995-1996 term by manager Joe Kinnear. This was Earle’s best top-flight campaign. He scored 11 goals including strikes in victories over Chelsea, Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers. Another strong aspect of Robbie’s game was his ability to link-up with the other Wimbledon attack-minded players, including Mick Harford, Efan Ekoku and Dean Holdsworth.

Under his captaincy in 1996-1997, Wimbledon enjoyed a brilliant season, going on a lengthy unbeaten run in the Premier League between early September and late December. They also made the semi-finals of both domestic cup competitions before losing to eventual winners, Leicester City and Chelsea respectively. Robbie’s consistency earned him the Premier League Player of the Month award in February 1997.

Although he harboured ambitions of playing international football for England, Earle was eligible to play for Jamaica as both of his parents were Jamaican. He accepted the offer to play at international level for the Jamaicans and would play at their only major international tournament so far – the 1998 World Cup finals in France. He scored their first-ever goal in the competition against Croatia in Lens and played all three of their group stage matches. His services to football saw him earn an MBE in 1999.

Earle was part of the Wimbledon squad that waved goodbye to Premier League football in 2000, relegated on the final day at The Dell by Southampton. Later that year, during a reserve team game, he sustained a heavy blow to the stomach that ruptured his pancreas. He admitted years later: “One afternoon in hospital, I was told that I had picked up an infection again. By this time I had lost four stone. My breathing was irregular, I was in agony. If somebody had told me that death was the best choice, I’d have accepted it – anything to take away the pain.”

At the age of 35, he was forced to retire from playing. He moved into the world of football journalism and has worked for the likes of Capital Radio, ESPN, BBC Radio 5 Live and ITV. A familiar face with ITV, he was sacked by them days into the 2010 World Cup for giving away tickets for a group stage match between Netherlands and Denmark which were sold to a brewery company. He admitted to his “naivety” after this error of judgement. Earle is now a commentator for the Premier League on NBC and has also done some analytical work on the MLS.

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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