Tag Archives: Relegation

Premier League Rewind: 6th-7th May 1994

Results: Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool FC, Blackburn Rovers 0-0 Ipswich Town, Chelsea 3-2 Sheffield United, Everton 3-2 Wimbledon, Newcastle United 2-0 Arsenal, Norwich City 1-1 Oldham Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Manchester City, Swindon Town 0-5 Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Queens Park Rangers, West Ham United 3-3 Southampton, Manchester United 0-0 Coventry City

With Manchester United having been crowned Premier League champions for the second successive season four days earlier, all the drama on the final weekend of the 1993-1994 season was at the bottom of the table. Swindon Town were already relegated but there were still two relegation spots to be filled.

With an inferior goal difference to their rivals, Oldham Athletic needed a minor miracle. They had run out of steam at the wrong point in the season. Incredibly, their final match of the season against Norwich City was their sixth game in just 14 days! The Latics could certainly complain about the fixture backlog and their FA Cup semi-final agony at the hands of Manchester United had affected them mentally too. They had to win by at least three clear goals and hope results went their way. Sean McCarthy did give them a 13th minute lead but there would be no great escape this time around. Rob Ullathorne’s equaliser 17 minutes from full-time ensured the points were shared in a 1-1 draw and confirmed Oldham’s drop to Division One.

Oldham were down but there was one spot up for grabs and it was between Everton, Ipswich Town, Southampton and Sheffield United. Everton’s season had been a nightmare. Having topped the table after three matches, they had seen Howard Kendall quit in December and highly-rated Mike Walker unable to stop the slide. Only a win against in-form Wimbledon would give them a chance of beating the drop. It looked hopeless after just 20 minutes. A Dean Holdsworth penalty and Gary Ablett’s unfortunate own goal had Wimbledon 2-0 ahead. With the Dons unbeaten in nine matches, Everton’s fate looked to be sealed. However, divine inspiration came in the form of Graham Stuart. His penalty in the 24th minute gave the home side some hope after Anders Limpar’s ‘dive’ won the spot-kick. Barry Horne scored a belter to level the scores and then, with nine minutes left, Stuart’s second of the afternoon somehow eluded the grasp of Hans Segers. Everton were infront and held on for a 3-2 victory. A pitch invasion at the full-time whistle confirmed they had survived but only just.

Everton’s comeback meant Ipswich Town were very vulnerable. Having been 12th in the table after beating Aston Villa on 12th Match, the Tractor Boys had collected just two points from their next nine matches. They had a testing trip to Blackburn Rovers who were already guaranteed the runners-up position. Blackburn had the better of the chances but couldn’t find a way through. The match ended goalless. However, that would have sent them down if scores remained the same in the two games based in London involving Southampton and Sheffield United.

For the second successive season, Matt Le Tissier produced some magic on the final day. His two goals helped Southampton to a pulsating 3-3 draw at Upton Park with West Ham United, despite Ken Monkou’s late own goal costing them three points. The Saints were safe. It looked like Sheffield United would also be celebrating safety. They led twice at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea and going into stoppage-time, a 2-2 scoreline was good enough for the Blades. Then, Mark Stein snatched a late winner for Chelsea and results elsewhere meant it was Dave Bassett’s club who were relegated in devastating circumstances. It had been an afternoon full of contrasting emotions.

Elsewhere, Leeds United’s 5-0 victory away at Swindon Town meant the Premier League debutants became the first and so far, only side to concede 100 goals in a top-flight season since 1992. Aston Villa’s 2-1 success at home to Liverpool FC ensured their pipped Midlands rivals Coventry City to a top 10 finish. The Sky Blues might have lost that battle with the Villans but still earned a creditable 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in the final match of an exciting weekend.

What else happened in May 1994?

  • In joyous scenes across the country, Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president.
  • UK politics is suspended after the sudden death of the Labour leader John Smith. He suffered a massive heart attack on 12th May and dies aged 55.
  • Three-time world Formula One champion Ayrton Senna is killed in an accident whilst leading the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. He was just 34-years-old.
  • The Channel Tunnel, which can get people between Britain and France in 35 minutes, is open to the public for the first time.
  • In late May, Scottish group Wet Wet Wet reach no.1 with Love Is All Around. It will spend 15 consecutive weeks on top of the UK music charts.
  • The film Four Weddings and a Funeral is released in the UK.
  • Malawi holds its first multiparty elections.
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Premier League Files: Dean Gordon

Premier League Career: Crystal Palace (1992-1993, 1994-1995, 1997-1998), Middlesbrough (1998-2002)

Left-back Dean Gordon is a perfect example of a journeyman footballer who represented a host of different clubs during his career. In his 18-year stint as a footballer, he played for no fewer than 20 teams with spells in England, Cyprus and even New Zealand. To be fair to Dean, a lot of this movement came after his prime days in the game which were spent in the top two divisions with Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough.

Born in Croydon, Gordon made the breakthrough professionally at his local club, Crystal Palace. Starting as a trainee, he turned professional in July 1991 and would eventually make over 200 appearances for the Eagles across seven league campaigns. Gordon was part of the Palace team that won the First Division championship in 1994 and won promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs three years later. Unfortunately, all three Premier League campaigns he took part in ended in relegation from the top-flight. Strong in the tackle, Gordon loved to fly forward from the left-flank and also had a tendency to score some spectacular goals from distance. One of his best came in his penultimate match as a Palace player at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium – although it ended in a 5-2 defeat.

Following Palace’s third Premier League relegation, he left in July 1998 and joined Middlesbrough for £900,000. In his first season on Teeside, he started every single Premier League match, as Boro finished ninth in the table. He was one of the goalscorers too in December 1998 when Bryan Robson’s team went to Old Trafford and beat Manchester United 3-2.

His next three seasons at The Riverside Stadium were a real struggle though and he was limited to a meagre 20 further games with his final appearance coming in a 1-0 victory over local rivals Sunderland in January 2002. He was released at the end of that campaign by Steve McClaren and joined Coventry City.

It was from here when Gordon’s constant club changing happened. Some of his previous sides include Grimsby Town, Reading, APOEL Nicosia, Torquay United and Auckland City. Following his retirement in 2009 after a spell in non-league football, Dean now lives in Sunderland and runs Futsal Sunderland, providing competitions and other Futsal events for all ages.

Iconic Moments: The decline begins for Coventry City (May 2001)

Coventry City had spent 34 consecutive seasons in England’s top-flight. They had provided many with brilliant memories, winning the FA Cup in 1987 and producing many final day escapes, especially in 1997 with a victory at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur protecting them from relegation.

They weren’t so lucky four years later. The Sky Blues had struggled all season and went into their match at Villa Park needing to win to still hold a realistic hope of staying up. It started well as Mustapha Hadji scored twice before defensive frailties set in. In the closing stages, Paul Merson hit the winning goal for Aston Villa. Their 3-2 win coupled with Derby County’s 1-0 victory at Old Trafford meant Coventry City’s proud stay as a top-flight club was over. They were going down.

The decline was well and truly underway for one of England’s most recognisable clubs. Terrible ownership, a brief ground share at Sixfields with Northampton Town, regular managerial changes and three relegations have followed since that day at Villa Park in May 2001. A fifth round FA Cup run in 2018 has put them back in the conscious minds of some but they are now toiling in the fourth-tier of the English league pyramid system.

This was the moment where a little part of the Premier League disappeared forever.

Premier League Rewind: 7th-8th May 1993

Results: Arsenal 3-0 Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry City 3-3 Leeds United, Ipswich Town 2-1 Nottingham Forest, Liverpool FC 6-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City 2-5 Everton, Middlesbrough 3-3 Norwich City, Oldham Athletic 4-3 Southampton, Sheffield United 4-2 Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Aston Villa, Wimbledon 1-2 Manchester United

The final weekend of the very first FA Premier League season would be a record-breaking one with the highest total of goals scored ever during a top-flight weekend since the formation of the division. Incredibly, 53 goals found the back of the net in the 11 matches that took place. It was clear that some defences were already on holiday on this evidence!

With Manchester United already crowned as the maiden Premier League champions, the main attention was focused on the bottom of the table. Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough were already relegated, so just one spot was up for grabs and it was a straight shootout between Crystal Palace and Oldham Athletic.

The odds were in Palace’s favour. They only needed a point from their final match at Highbury against an Arsenal side who might have had one eye on an FA Cup final appearance in a week’s time. However, it all went wrong for Steve Coppell’s side. Ian Wright opened the scoring against his former employers after just nine minutes. Further late strikes from Paul Dickov and Kevin Campbell consigned Palace to a 3-0 defeat. They now required help from Southampton.

The Saints were at Boundary Park to play Oldham. Oldham had looked dead and buried a week earlier but shock wins over Aston Villa and Liverpool FC had given them genuine hope of beating the drop. Another win here and they would be playing Premier League football in 1993-1994. It looked very good after 64 minutes. Goals from Neil Pointon, Ian Olney, Andy Ritchie and Gunnar Halle had Oldham 4-1 ahead. Matt Le Tissier was not going to make it easy though. He almost single-handily dragged Southampton back into the match with a hat-trick. Oldham manager Joe Royle was racing upstairs and downstairs every couple of minutes as the tension increased during the afternoon.

Oldham held on though for a priceless three points which ensured they stayed up on goal difference. Crystal Palace were relegated and Coppell resigned soon afterwards.

Another manager under pressure was Liverpool FC’s Graeme Souness. He was a mysterious absentee from the club’s final home match of an underwhelming season against Tottenham Hotspur. The official reason given by the club was he was on a ‘scouting mission.’ Ronnie Moran took control on the day and the players responded well, thumping Tottenham 6-2. There were two goals apiece for John Barnes and Ian Rush. Teddy Sheringham’s consolation meant he would win the Golden Boot in the first Premier League season. Tottenham would change managers in the close season, with playing legend Ossie Ardiles appointed that summer, whilst Liverpool did stick with Souness until January 1994.

Manchester United closed their season out 24 hours after the majority of the other teams had played. They beat Wimbledon 2-1 at Selhurst Park, with skipper Bryan Robson scoring their final goal of the league season. They would finish 10 points clear of Aston Villa, who lost 2-1 at Queens Park Rangers to ensure they lost their final three games of the season. That win for QPR ensured they would finish in fifth spot and were London’s top club. This was a marvellous achievement for Gerry Francis.

One manager bowing out completely was Brian Clough. His final game in management was at Portman Road and he exited with a defeat. Despite a penalty from his son, Nigel Clough, Nottingham Forest lost 2-1 to Ipswich Town to ensure they finished bottom of the table. Elsewhere, Peter Beagrie scored twice as Everton finished a lacklustre season on a real high, winning 5-2 away at Manchester City and Tim Sherwood’s header beat Sheffield Wednesday at Ewood Park. Blackburn Rovers finished fourth in their first season after promotion from the Second Division.

What else happened in May 1993?

  • Kenneth Clarke is appointed as the new Chancellor of the Exchequer after Norman Lamont’s sacking following Black Wednesday.
  • Ireland wins the Eurovision Song Contest with “In Your Eyes,” performed by Niamh Kavanagh.
  • Eritrea gains independence from Ethiopia and becomes a member of the United Nations.
  • Inflation in the UK reaches a 29-year low of 1.3%.
  • After 10 years, ITV drops the popular teatime gameshow ‘Blockbusters.’ It will be revived on four separate occasions by Sky One, BBC Two and Challenge before disappearing for good in 2012.
  • Matthew Kelly becomes the new host of the ITV programme, ‘Stars in Their Eyes.’ He will continue to front the show for the next 10 years.

Memorable Matches: Southampton 3-3 Blackburn Rovers (April 1999)

Goalscorers: Ashley Ward 14, Chris Marsden 22, Darren Peacock 25, Jason Wilcox 47, Mark Hughes 61, Marian Pahars 85

Teams:

Southampton: Neil Moss, Jason Dodd, Scott Hiley (Marian Pahars 78), Patrick Colleter (David Hughes 46), Francis Benali, Claus Lundekvam, Chris Marsden, Hassan Kachloul, Matt Le Tissier, Egil Ostenstad (James Beattie 46), Mark Hughes

Blackburn Rovers: John Filan, Callum Davidson, Stephane Henchoz (Marlon Broomes 46), Darren Peacock, Lee Carsley, Jason McAteer, Jason Wilcox, Damien Johnson (Christian Dailly 78), Keith Gillespie, Ashley Ward, Kevin Gallacher (Kevin Davies 69)

Referee: Graham Barber, Attendance: 15,209

As the 1998-1999 season entered its final month of action, both Southampton and Blackburn Rovers were firmly in the relegation scrap. The Saints had been in the drop zone all season, hindered by a dreadful start which saw them collect just two points from their opening nine matches.

Having finished sixth the previous season, Blackburn had been at the wrong end all campaign too. Roy Hodgson had been sacked in November after a defeat in the reverse fixture to the Saints and Brian Kidd had spent plenty of money in a desperate effort for the club to avoid relegation, just four seasons after winning the Premier League. They were ahead in the table and come the full-time whistle, would remain in that position but be more disappointed by the final outcome.

Kidd’s side led after 14 minutes. The two forwards, Kevin Gallacher and Ashley Ward linked up brilliantly and although he was forced wide by a recovering Francis Benali, Ward guided a soft-looking shot across Neil Moss’ bows and into the back of the net. It was his 100th goal in club football. Eight minutes later, Southampton were back on level terms. Captain Jason Dodd delivered a teasing cross into the penalty area and Chris Marsden met it emphatically with a thumping header that left John Filan with little hope of saving it. Marsden had just scored his first goal for Southampton.

Their parity didn’t last long though. Three minutes after drawing level, Dave Jones’ side conceded again from a set-piece. Darren Peacock escaped the attentions of Claus Lundekvam and his shot evaded the grasp of Moss, who probably should have saved the goal-bound strike. It was such a cheap goal to concede and the kind of goal that teams often concede when they are scrapping to survive in the Premier League. Defeat here would be almost terminal for Southampton and that looked more likely less than two minutes into the second half. Jason McAteer found an unmarked Jason Wilcox and the captain produced a fine header to give the visitors some precious daylight. Victory was theirs for the taking.

Southampton gave themselves some hope just past the hour. Veteran Mark Hughes scored his first goal in Southampton colours in his 32nd appearance for the club, sliding in from close-range to divert in a cross by James Beattie. That set Blackburn nerves rocking and with five minutes left, they lost their lead. A downward header from the Latvian Marian Pahars somehow defeated Filan after more great work from Beattie. It meant we had the first-ever Latvian goalscorer in English football.

Having been 3-1 down, this was an important point for Southampton and they would win their final three matches to survive. Blackburn only collected three points from their last five outings and they would end the season in the bottom three. From champions to relegation in four short seasons and it could have been so different for Kidd if his side hadn’t thrown away this lead on the south coast.

The Clubs: Swindon Town

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
42 5 15 22 47 100 -53 30 1

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Shaun Taylor 42
John Moncur 41
Kevin Horlock 38
Nicky Summerbee 38
Jan Aage Fjortoft 36
Adrian Whitbread 35
Martin Ling 33
Paul Bodin 32
Luc Nijholt 32
Andy Mutch 30

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Jan Aage Fjortoft 12
Paul Bodin 7
Andy Mutch 6
Shaun Taylor 4
John Moncur 4
Keith Scott 4
Nicky Summerbee 3
Craig Maskell 3
Adrian Whitbread 1
Martin Ling 1

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Swindon Town 3-1 Coventry City 5th February 1994 1993-1994
Queens Park Rangers 1-3 Swindon Town 30th April 1994 1993-1994
Swindon Town 2-1 Southampton 18th December 1993 1993-1994
Swindon Town 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur 22nd January 1994 1993-1994
Swindon Town 1-0 Queens Park Rangers 24th November 1993 1993-1994

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Newcastle United 7-1 Swindon Town 12th March 1994 1993-1994
Swindon Town 0-5 Liverpool FC 22nd August 1993 1993-1994
Aston Villa 5-0 Swindon Town 12th February 1994 1993-1994
Swindon Town 0-5 Leeds United 7th May 1994 1993-1994
Everton 6-2 Swindon Town 15th January 1994 1993-1994
Southampton 5-1 Swindon Town 25th August 1993 1993-1994
Swindon Town 0-4 Arsenal 27th December 1993 1993-1994
Wimbledon 3-0 Swindon Town 6th November 1993 1993-1994
Leeds United 3-0 Swindon Town 27th November 1993 1993-1994
Manchester United 4-2 Swindon Town 25th September 1993 1993-1994

 

Managers

Player Seasons in charge
John Gorman 1993-1994

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Swindon Town 2-2 Manchester United 19th March 1994 18,102 1993-1994
Swindon Town 0-4 Arsenal 27th December 1993 17,651 1993-1994
Swindon Town 0-5 Leeds United 7th May 1994 17,539 1993-1994
Swindon Town 0-5 Liverpool FC 22nd August 1993 17,017 1993-1994
Swindon Town 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur 22nd January 1994 16,563 1993-1994

 

Intro

Swindon Town graced the top-flight of the Premier League in 1993-1994. The Wiltshire-based club broke many records – for the wrong reasons. The Robins conceded 100 goals in their 42 matches during the season, the most by any side in a Premier League season. They were relegated three games from the end of the campaign with just five wins. Nevertheless, they did provide plenty of entertainment and recorded the occasional eye-catching result.

 

1993-1994

Having defeated Leicester City 4-3 in the play-off final, Swindon reached the top-flight and were hoping to have a successful spell with Glenn Hoddle in-charge. The former Tottenham Hotspur playing legend was in a player-manager capacity and had been instrumental in helping Swindon to promotion. However, he left the club to take the managerial vacancy at Chelsea and offered his assistant manager, John Gorman the chance to join him.

Swindon chairman Ray Hardman was desperate not to lose Gorman as well, so offered him the managerial position, something which he accepted. The fans were delighted as he was a popular figure in the area when he arrived on the coaching staff in 1991.

Life would be tricky for Gorman and he found out pretty quickly how tough life at the highest level of English football would be. Swindon lost their first four matches, shipping five goals in back-to-back games against Liverpool FC and Southampton. They didn’t get their first point until 28th August, when they earned a 0-0 draw away at Norwich. This was one of only four clean sheets they kept all campaign.

Swindon were winless for the first 16 matches of the season and were quickly rooted to the foot of the table. They had just six points on the tally until beating Queens Park Rangers at the County Ground 1-0 in late November. Keith Scott, a recent arrival from Division Three side Wycombe Wanderers scored the only goal. This victory gave the Robins some confidence. Scott scored again at Anfield in mid-December as Swindon came mighty close to shocking Liverpool FC on Merseyside. Mark Wright scored a late header to ruin what would have been one of the biggest shocks in Premier League history.

Back-to-back home victories were recorded in early 1994 over Tottenham Hotspur and Coventry City and there was a thrilling 3-3 draw at Hillsborough with Sheffield Wednesday where Craig Maskell scored twice. Maskell would leave though in late January to join Southampton and it was left to Jan Aage Fjortoft to come up with the goals. The Norwegian scored 12 times and his treble against Coventry was the first hat-trick from a Scandinavian player in the Premier League.

There was a fighting 2-2 draw with champions Manchester United in March but still, Swindon took some heavy beatings. They lost 5-0 to Aston Villa and caved in 7-1 at Newcastle United. Five points from their last eight games sealed their fate. Despite completing a league double over Queens Park Rangers with their only away win of the season on the penultimate weekend, Gorman’s men were already down. A 4-2 home loss to Wimbledon a week earlier had proved to be the final blow. A final day 5-0 defeat at home to Leeds ensured Swindon became the first – and so far – only side in Premier League history to concede 100 goals in a season.

The Robins are now in League Two so they are some way away from achieving the heights of playing Premier League football again but their one-season stay in the top-flight will be one fans from the County Ground will remember.

Premier League Rewind: 5th-8th May 2012

Results: Arsenal 3-3 Norwich City, Aston Villa 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Bolton Wanderers 2-2 West Bromwich Albion, Fulham 2-1 Sunderland, Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester City, Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Stoke City, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-0 Everton, Manchester United 2-0 Swansea City, Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Wigan Athletic, Liverpool FC 4-1 Chelsea

The penultimate weekend of the 2011-2012 campaign saw some important matches at both ends of the table. Having been eight points clear of their Manchester rivals after seeing off Queens Park Rangers a month earlier at Old Trafford, Manchester United had blown that advantage. Manchester City’s 1-0 victory in the derby a week earlier meant they were now top of the table on goal difference.

All Roberto Mancini’s side needed to do now was to keep winning. Two more wins and they would become Premier League champions. However, the Italian insisted that United were still the favourites. That was because Manchester City had a tricky away fixture at Newcastle, who were still right in the race to finish in the top four.

With 20 minutes left, Mancini’s prophecy looked like it was coming true. The game needed a special moment at 0-0 and it received it through Yaya Toure. The Ivorian managed to bend a shot in from distance that defeated Tim Krul and set the Citizens’ on their way. As Newcastle pushed players forward in an attempt to grab an equaliser, City broke again in the 89th minute and Toure sealed the victory. Their 2-0 win put them firmly in the driving seat going into the final weekend.

At a subdued Old Trafford, Manchester United needed lots of goals and three points at home to Swansea City. They got the win through first half efforts by Paul Scholes and Ashley Young. However, a 2-0 scoreline was not what they were hoping for. Trailing by eight goals in the table, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side now needed to win on the final day away at Sunderland and hope Manchester City tripped up at home to Queens Park Rangers. Of course, we didn’t know at the time of the extraordinary drama that would follow a week later.

With Wolverhampton Wanderers already relegated two weeks earlier, the battle was on to avoid the drop between Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Queens Park Rangers, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa. Villa’s 1-1 draw at home to Champions League-chasing Tottenham Hotspur meant barring any mathematical nightmares, they were safe. At Loftus Road, Queens Park Rangers picked up a priceless victory at home to Stoke City. Djibril Cisse’s goal in the final minute of normal time steered Mark Hughes’ side to an important 1-0 victory. Their destiny was now in their own hands.

Bolton Wanderers situation looked bleak after throwing away a two-goal lead at home to West Bromwich Albion. In his first match since being appointed as the future England manager, Roy Hodgson’s side recovered from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 and ensure Bolton had to win on the final day away at Stoke to stand any chance of survival.

Survival was beyond Blackburn Rovers. On Monday Night Football, they had to beat Wigan Athletic to take their fight to the final day whilst a draw would be enough for Wigan. With less than five minutes to go, Antolin Alcaraz’s header on a rain-soaked evening saw Wigan get the goal to earn their safety. Bottom in mid-March, Roberto Martinez’s side had beaten Liverpool FC, Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle United in the run-in to complete another escape act. For Blackburn, the 1-0 defeat left Steve Kean devastated. They were relegated after 10 years back in the top-flight and it ended a tumultuous season at Ewood Park with fan protests against the manager and the club’s Indian owners becoming a regular theme. The match saw an appearance of the Blackburn chicken!

In the final game of this round, Liverpool FC made amends for their FA Cup final defeat 72 hours later, crushing Chelsea 4-1 at Anfield. Jonjo Shelvey scored his first Premier League goal as Liverpool finished their home season in style in what would turn out to be Kenny Dalglish’s penultimate match in charge.

What else happened in May 2012?

  • Boris Johnson is re-elected as Mayor of London with 51.5% of the vote.
  • A torch relay ahead of the 2012 London Olympics will start after the flame arrives in Cornwall on a flight from its traditional home of Athens, Greece.
  • During a visit to the BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow, Prince Charles presents the lunchtime weather forecast!
  • Sweden wins the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan. The United Kingdom entry comes 25th with just 12 points, six places below ‘Jedward’ who do the Irish entry.
  • British and American hairstylist Vidal Sassoon dies in California, aged 84.
  • Pastor Maldonado from Venezuela wins the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. It is the first Formula One victory for Williams in eight years. The celebrations are marred by a horrible fire that breaks out in their garage an hour after the race. Fortunately, no-one is seriously hurt.
  • The Tokyo Skytree, the tallest self-supporting tower in the world at 634 metres high is opened to the public.

Premier League Files: Cameron Jerome

Premier League Career: Birmingham City (2007-2008, 2009-2011), Stoke City (2011-2013), Crystal Palace (2013-2014), Norwich City (2015-2016)

Cameron Jerome has played for Birmingham City, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Norwich City during his Premier League career. He has experienced the pain of three relegations from the top-flight and the joy of three promotions from the Championship. He isn’t the most prolific forward but one thing Jerome has already been capable of is scoring some spectacular goals.

Born in West Yorkshire, Jerome moved about in his youth days, spending time on the books of Huddersfield Town, Grimsby Town and Sheffield Wednesday. However, it was Cardiff City where he would make his first-team breakthrough, making his debut in a goalless draw with Leeds United in October 2004. He finished as the Bluebirds’ top goalscorer in 2005-2006 with 20 goals and this form earned him a move to Birmingham City, who had just dropped out of the top-flight under the guidance of Steve Bruce.

His debut for the Blues was instantly forgettable, lasting a paltry five minutes before being sent off for elbowing a Colchester United opponent in the face. It wasn’t the impact he wanted to make and he scored just nine times in 44 appearances. Nevertheless, Birmingham were promoted back to the Premier League at the first attempt of asking, finishing runners-up to Sunderland. He stayed with the club in 2007-2008 and scored his first Premier League goal after only 32 seconds of a game away at Derby County, which Birmingham won 2-1. He added a further six to that strike at Pride Park but Birmingham were relegated back to the Championship on the final day of the season.

A decent partnership with veteran Kevin Phillips helped Birmingham back once more to the top-flight for 2009-2010 and this was his best campaign to-date. Cameron helped Birmingham to a fine ninth-place finish in the final table. This included a goal in a lifetime strike away at Anfield. Collecting possession from around 30-yards out, he held off Javier Mascherano and produced a dipping volley that flew over Pepe Reina and into the back of the net. This helped Birmingham pinch a 2-2 draw and was part of a club-record unbeaten run in the top-flight. Jerome finished with 11 goals – easily his best return in the Premier League.

The goalscoring boots disappeared again in 2010-2011. He notched just three goals and was reduced to a substitute role for Birmingham’s glorious League Cup final victory over Arsenal. Just two wins in their last 11 games after that Wembley victory saw Alex McLeish’s side relegated and this time, he wasn’t going to stick around for another Championship campaign.

Jerome moved to Stoke City for £4 million on transfer deadline day but struggled to hold down a first-team place under Tony Pulis’ stewardship. His impact came largely from the bench and he didn’t score in the league for Stoke until New Years’ Eve 2011 against Wigan Athletic. His best form was saved for the club’s only European adventure to-date, scoring to earn a creditable draw in Kiev and finding the net twice in a home win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

In 2012-2013, Cameron might have made 30 Premier League appearances but only started nine games. He scored three times, including a corking strike to rescue a point in a 3-3 draw with Southampton. Pulis left at the end of that campaign and Jerome was glad to see the back of him. He told BBC Radio Stoke: “No matter what happened, how you trained or if you came on and did well in the games you were involved in, you were still never going to start.”

Mark Hughes decided he was surplus to requirements at Stoke and Jerome moved to Crystal Palace on-loan in September 2013. Ironically, when Ian Holloway quit a month later, he would be replaced by…Tony Pulis! Despite the forward’s previous criticism of the manager, he did feature 29 times at Selhurst Park but only scored twice. His loan wasn’t extended and Stoke would sell him to Norwich City for £1.5 million in August 2014.

18 goals for the Norfolk side would help Norwich into the play-offs, where they prevailed over Middlesbrough to earn an instant return to the Premier League. Yet again, the step-up found Jerome wanting. He found the back of the net a meagre three times in 34 games as Norwich ended the season in the bottom three positions. He remains at Carrow Road nowadays but seems to be playing only a rotation role under current coach Daniel Farke.

He could produce the spectacular from time-to-time but Cameron Jerome is a forward who has always looked good in the second-tier but never quite made the substantial breakthrough in the Premier League.

Premier League Files: George Boyd

Premier League Career: Hull City (2013-2014), Burnley (2014-2015, 2016-2017)

What do Steve Kabba, Mark Robins and George Boyd have in common? These three players have suffered the ignominy of playing in the same Premier League season for two relegated teams. In Boyd’s case, this happened to him during 2014-2015 when he started the campaign with Hull City but was a Burnley player by the end of the season.

The Scot, who won two caps for his country is a creative player who likes to play out on the wings and lay on chances for his teammates. He left the Premier League in the summer of 2017, turning down a new deal at Turf Moor to sign a two-year contract with Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.

He grew up in Kent and is a Crystal Palace fan. George started his career at fellow London side Charlton Athletic but was rejected at the age of 15. With this early setback, he had to work his way up the football pyramid again, starting with Stevenage. Whilst playing in Hertfordshire, he was working in a sweet shop to earn the money for his train fare to training and was also studying at North Hertfordshire College. He was definitely doing things the busy and hard way.

He made his Stevenage debut at the age of 17 and spent the next five years with the club before joining Peterborough United in 2007. It was with Peterborough that he enjoyed the most productive spell of his career, featuring 263 times for the club during seven seasons at London Road. This included three campaigns in the Championship, having begun with Posh in League Two.

He was the subject of plenty of interest during this time with the likes of Burnley and Nottingham Forest submitting bids that were rejected. Eventually, it looked like he was going to move to the latter in January 2013. Everything was agreed and a medical passed until Forest pulled the plug on the deal due to an “inconclusive eye test.” Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony didn’t hold back with his thoughts, saying: “I’m devastated for George. I got a phone call off him in bits… He said that he passed the medical then they made him do an eye test. He’s played 300 matches and scored from the halfway line the other month, but Forest say he has an eyesight problem. The whole thing stinks. Alex McLeish wanted to sign him. It’s the most ridiculous thing that’s happened to me.”

He eventually did move on but to Hull City on-loan before the move became permanent in the summer of 2013 with the club enjoying promotion to the Premier League. His time with Hull in the top-flight was not as successful, scoring just twice in 29 games although one did come in a 6-0 thrashing of Fulham in December 2013.

After starting the 2014-2015 campaign at Hull, making one appearance against Stoke City, he moved to Burnley on a three-year deal on deadline day. His finest Premier League moments would come that season against Manchester City. In December, he scored the first of the club’s two goals in their fine 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium. Three months later, it was his 61st minute strike that saw the champions defeated at Turf Moor. Unfortunately, Burnley didn’t have enough all-round quality to avoid an instant return to the Championship.

The Scot stayed with the club to help them win promotion at the first attempt back to the top-flight and figured 36 times in 2016-2017, scoring twice as Burnley survived in the Premier League for the first time in their history.

Although he was offered a new deal, he decided for a fresh challenge away from Lancashire and signed for Sheffield Wednesday where he has only just made his league debut after injury hampered the early months of his time in Yorkshire.

The Managers: Alex McLeish

Premier League Clubs Managed: Birmingham City (2007-2008), (2009-2011), Aston Villa (2011-2012)

The Midlands and especially, the city of Birmingham dominated the management career of Alex McLeish in the Premier League. The Scot was a huge success in Scottish football but his English spell wasn’t so rewarding. Despite winning the League Cup in 2011 with Birmingham City, two relegations and an uneasy season at Villa Park in 2011-2012 meant it was an unfulfilling experience in the top-flight for McLeish.

Early Scottish success

As a player, McLeish was a central defender for Aberdeen during their own monopoly of Scottish football in the 1980s. He scored in the 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup final over the mighty Real Madrid and made 493 appearances for Aberdeen across 16 seasons. His performances saw him voted Scottish Player of the Year in 1990 and it led to international recognition from Scotland on no fewer than 77 occasions.

McLeish’s first management role came at Motherwell where he made the final appearances of his playing time. Under his guidance, the Lanarkshire club finished second to Rangers in 1995 but he was unable to build on this and in the next two campaigns, relegation battles followed. He left Motherwell in 1998 to take over at Hibernian.

McLeish arrived too late to stop the Edinburgh side sliding out of the top-flight but he guided them straight back into the Premiership and soon consolidated Hibs into a comfortable, attractive side to watch. He even managed to tempt the likes of former French international Franck Sauzee to Easter Road. Hibernian finished best of the rest in 2001 behind the Glasgow dominant Celtic and Rangers combination. The latter had noted his good work and at Christmas time in 2001, he was chosen by Dick Advocaat as his future successor.

Stopping the Celtic steamroller

Any doubts about McLeish’s appointment by Rangers supporters were instantly quelled. Although the title was always going to go to Martin O’Neill and Celtic long before his arrival in 2001-2002, McLeish did preside over a domestic cup double against the old enemy. The likes of Barry Ferguson, Peter Lovenkrands and Ronald de Boer made swift contributions as Rangers swept the board in 2002-2003. McLeish was keeping the winning tradition going at Ibrox. How they wish they had these days back nowadays…

Another title followed in 2005 and also under his guidance, Rangers reached the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, becoming the first Scottish side to get through the group stage since the competition’s reformation in 1992. However, Celtic had bounced back and regained the grip on Scottish football. With fan pressure growing, McLeish stood down in the summer of 2006.

After a brief hiatus from the game, he took over as manager of his country in January 2007. Under his reign as Scotland manager, the Scots stunned France in Paris to beat them in qualifying for the 2008 European Championships. Sadly though, a defeat in Georgia ended any realistic hopes of a first major tournament finals’ appearance in 10 years. A loss to Italy in the final round of games ensured Scotland’s brave failure was complete.

Days after the Italian defeat, he resigned and took over the vacancy at Birmingham City which was left open after Steve Bruce went to Wigan Athletic. His chapter in English football was about to begin.

Highs and lows with Birmingham

McLeish’s debut match as Birmingham manager was a memorable one. Sebastian Larsson’s stunning strike helped the Blues’ to a 3-2 away win at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur. They briefly climbed to 11th in early March but a poor run of results towards the end of the season ended with the team’s relegation to the Championship, despite beating Blackburn Rovers 4-1 on the final day of the season.

Things did improve. An immediate promotion back to the top-flight followed and then, he produced a sound 2009-2010 campaign which saw Birmingham finish an impressive ninth; their highest finish in over half a century. Among the achievements was a club-record 12-match unbeaten run in the top-flight and the Manager of the Month award for December 2009.

In 2010-2011, expectations were therefore fairly high and there was a victory over champions Chelsea, plus creditable home draws with Liverpool FC and Manchester United. In February 2011, Birmingham stunned favourites Arsenal at Wembley Stadium to win the Carling Cup 2-1. However, a nightmarish run followed in the Premier League. Just two wins in their last 11 matches saw the club relegated for the third time in just over five years. Birmingham’s plight was confirmed by a 2-1 defeat on the final day to Tottenham Hotspur.

The board wanted to keep McLeish in charge but in June 2011, he controversially resigned from his position via e-mail. Five days later, he liked the Midlands so much; he stayed in the region and became Aston Villa boss. Protests were held outside Villa Park on his appointment. He was not the fans’ popular choice. McLeish signed Shay Given and Charles N’Zogbia on his arrival. Neither signing would ultimately work out well. Villa did remain unbeaten until mid-October but there was never any comfort in the role, or a great brand of football being played by his team.

Chelsea were beaten 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on New Years’ Eve but just four wins were achieved all term at home and relegation was avoided by a mere two points. His contract was terminated by Randy Lerner after defeat at Norwich City on the final day consigned Villa to a lowly 16th-place finish.

Since then, Alex McLeish had the briefest of spells at Nottingham Forest (7 games) following by stints working in Belgium and Egypt. Alex McLeish has experienced the highs and lows in football management. His teams weren’t the prettiest to watch but they were very successful in his homeland. It didn’t quite work out though in England.

Iconic Moments: A sad goodbye for Cloughie (May 1993)

He was controversial, he was charismatic and he was cherished by all – apart from maybe those at Leeds United. Brian Clough was one of the best managers the game has ever produced. After scoring 251 goals in just 274 league appearances for Middlesbrough and Sunderland respectively, he went into management and achieved great success.

He turned Derby County from a run-of-the-mill Second Division side into the Champions of England and also guided them to the semi-finals of the European Cup. After his ill-fated 44-day spell as Leeds boss in 1974, Clough returned to the Midlands and held the helm at Nottingham Forest for 18 years. He made the club in a serial player in both the English and European game. Forest won the First Division title in 1978, four League Cups and back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980.

Sadly though, his career ended on a low note as Nottingham Forest slid through the Premier League trap door in the league’s first season. Key players like Des Walker and Teddy Sheringham had been sold and there was an increasing battle the manager was having with alcohol. On the week before the club’s final home match of the 1992-1993 season, Clough announced his retirement from football management so he could spend more time with his family.

His final day at the City Ground was a highly-charged occasion but there would be no happy ending to this fairytale. Forest were beaten 2-0 by Sheffield United which consigned them to relegation. Afterwards, Clough revealed to Martin Tyler when asked why the club had gone down: “We’re not good enough, simple as that.”

After retirement, his battles with ill health and allegations of corruption dominated headlines but he still wrote an explosive monthly column for FourFourTwo magazine. He died from stomach cancer in September 2004, aged 69.

It was a sad goodbye and a sad way for one of the game’s great characters to bow out on.

Memorable Matches: Wigan Athletic 2-3 Swansea City (May 2013)

Goalscorers: Roger Espinoza 45, Angel Rangel 49, James McCarthy 52, Itay Shechter 58, Dwight Tiendalli 75

Teams:

Wigan Athletic: Joel Robles, Emmerson Boyce (Ronnie Stam 86), Paul Scharner, Gary Caldwell, Roger Espinoza, James McArthur, James McCarthy, Ben Watson, Shaun Maloney, Callum McManaman (Franco di Santo 64), Arouna Kone

Swansea City: Michel Vorm (Gerhard Tremmel 85), Angel Rangel, Ben Davies, Ashley Williams, Garry Monk, Dwight Tiendalli, Wayne Routledge, Leon Britton, Pablo Hernandez (Kemy Agustein 77), Jonathan de Guzman, Itay Shechter (Nathan Dyer 69)

Referee: Kevin Friend, Attendance: 18,850

They might have been gearing up for an upcoming FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium against Manchester City but Premier League survival was at stake for Wigan Athletic when they entertained Swansea City in a midweek match towards the end of the 2012-2013 season.

Wigan made three changes to the team that had won a five-goal thriller against West Bromwich Albion a few days earlier with skipper Gary Caldwell returning to the side.

Swansea were having a great season. The League Cup was already in their trophy cabinet and Michael Laudrup’s side were looking good for a top 10 finish. They started well with Wayne Routledge pouncing on a misplaced pass by stand-in left-back Roger Espinoza. Only the reflexes of Joel Robles spared Espinoza’s blushes. The visitors’ were missing their top goalscorer Michu, who was being rested with a trip to Old Trafford on the horizon at the weekend.

As the first half wore on, Wigan grew into the game and Roberto Martinez’s side grabbed a priceless lead right on the stroke of half-time. Ben Watson’s cross into the box wasn’t dealt with cleanly by Michel Vorm. The Dutchman’s punch only fell to Espinoza, who drove the ball home to open the scoring. What a great time it was for Espinoza to score his first goal for the club.

Swansea increased the pressure after the restart and quickly levelled the match. Routledge’s wonderfully measured cross found Angel Rangel and the full-back finished like a forward, with his crisp shot going into the net off the post. Wigan needed to respond quickly to this setback and they did. Just three minutes later, they were back infront. Caldwell’s pass found James McCarthy who broke from midfield. He just beat Ashley Williams to the decisive final contact and his shot was placed nicely out of Vorm’s reach. Wigan were back ahead.

Defensive errors though had cost Martinez’s side all season and they didn’t stop here. A sloppy pass from Caldwell in the 58th minute allowed Pablo Hernandez to pick out Itay Shechter. His shot took a deflection off the unfortunate Emmerson Boyce to beat Robles and make it 2-2. There always looked like a winner would emerge and it would be a devastating blow for the home side. With 15 minutes remaining, Shaun Maloney and James McArthur got in each other’s way at the back post. With neither taking decisive action, Dwight Tiendalli was in the right position to punish Wigan. His goal sealed the three points for Michael Laudrup’s team.

Wigan did enjoy an unbelievable day at Wembley to stun Manchester City and win the FA Cup final but were relegated the following Tuesday at Arsenal. This defeat was the crucial blow in their fight to survive.