Tag Archives: Selhurst Park

Great Goals: David Beckham – Wimbledon vs. MANCHESTER UNITED (August 1996)

On the opening day of the 1996-1997 season, David Beckham scored one of the greatest goals the Premier League has ever seen at Selhurst Park against Wimbledon.

Defending champions Manchester United were 2-0 up going into the dying stages of their first match of the season. When Efan Ekoku lost possession in the middle of the field and Brian McClair passed the ball to Beckham, nothing looked to be on for the midfielder. In his vision, he spotted Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan had strayed off his goal-line so with nothing to lose and everything to gain, Beckham decided to go for goal.

He measured his shot from inside his own half to perfection. Sullivan scrambled back but didn’t recover in-time as the ball flew over the top of him and into the net. It is a goal that even 23 years on, is still constantly repeated on highlights reels and social media.

It was a phenomenal and magical moment and set its goalscorer on his way to stardom, both on and off-the-field.


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.

Premier League Files: Wilfried Zaha

Premier League Career: Manchester United (2013), Cardiff City (2014), Crystal Palace (2014-PRESENT)

Wilfried Zaha is the key player at Crystal Palace. His ability is unquestionable and so is his talent. When Zaha plays well, Palace are a much better side. When he is injured or not in the side, the Eagles find it a major struggle without his presence. Now 26, many Premier League experts believe Zaha is one of the best players outside the top six teams. Recent form would suggest that too, although he has had a taste of the big time at Manchester United which didn’t work out for all parties.

Born in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Zaha moved to the London Borough of Croydon at the age of four and joined the Crystal Palace academy when he was just 12. Given his first-team debut at home to Cardiff City in March 2010, he signed a two-year professional contract with the club shortly afterwards.

He immediately made his impact on the Palace side and missed just two matches in the 2010-2011 season although one goal and two assists in all competitions suggested there was more to come from the gifted winger. In March 2012, he was voted the Football League’s Young Player of the Year and his real breakthrough came in the 2012-2013 season. Eight goals in 50 appearances in all competitions were a key component of a successful season for the south Londoners. It also won him international recognition from Roy Hodgson, who gave him his first of two England caps as a substitute against Sweden in November 2012.

Two months later, Zaha got his big money move to Manchester United. He would turn out to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s last-ever signing as Manchester United manager. United paid £10 million and immediately agreed to loan him back to Palace for the remainder of the campaign. He played a huge part in the Championship play-offs that season. Two goals in the semi-final against bitter rivals Brighton & Hove Albion took Crystal Palace to Wembley. In the final itself, he won the penalty for Kevin Phillips to score the only goal against Watford which guided Crystal Palace back to the Premier League.

Mission accomplished, Zaha was off for a shot in a big team but circumstances meant it wasn’t a period in his career he will want to remember. Ferguson had retired in May 2013 from first-team management and he was replaced by fellow Scot, David Moyes. He was rarely used by Moyes and didn’t make a Premier League appearance until coming off the bench in December 2013 when Manchester United were beaten 1-0 at home by Newcastle United.

Desperate to play, Zaha moved on-loan to Cardiff City in the January transfer window but failed to score in 12 appearances as Cardiff were relegated in their debut Premier League season. It was clear Zaha’s spell at Old Trafford had seen his confidence take a substantial knock. He later criticised Moyes for not being given a fair opportunity and also felt hurt about rumours online that he had been seeing Moyes’ daughter. He mentioned: “There were rumours about Moyes’ daughter from Twitter. It was weird. I was getting tortured for something I hadn’t done. I hadn’t even met her!”

Moyes was sacked in April after a dismal season but Zaha wouldn’t be staying under new manager Louis van Gaal. He was on his way back to his spiritual home of Crystal Palace, initially on-loan in August 2014 before the transfer became permanent in the 2015 January transfer window.

In his first match back, he scored a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a point for Crystal Palace in a 3-3 draw with Newcastle United – Neil Warnock’s first match of his second spell as Eagles boss. Zaha was back and the fans loved it. He scored four times as Palace finished 10th in the table, including a goal with virtually his first touch as a substitute in Steven Gerrard’s farewell Liverpool FC match at Anfield in May 2015. In 2015-2016, he won Crystal Palace Player of the Year at the club’s end of season awards dinner. He also scored twice in the club’s run to the FA Cup final and featured in 34 Premier League matches.

His international future was cleared up later in 2016 when in November – frustrated at not getting competitive opportunities for England, Zaha elected to switch allegiances and represent the country of his birth, Cote d’Ivoire at international level. Despite Gareth Southgate’s best efforts, Zaha stuck to his principles and made his debut for his new country at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, although it was disappointing for the team as they were eliminated in the group stages.

In 2016-2017, his levels and end product drastically improved. He scored seven times which was his best goalscoring return for any season. Among the highlights was an early goal in the 4-0 victory over Hull City that confirmed Crystal Palace’s Premier League status for another season and relegated Hull in the process.

One criticism of Zaha has been his tendency to complain about a lack of protection from officials and his tendency to go to ground easily in the penalty area. After not winning a spot-kick against Watford on Boxing Day 2016, Watford’s mascot decided to mimic a dive infront of him at full-time. It didn’t go down well with the Palace hierarchy. Recent data published has shown Zaha is the second most fouled player in the Premier League in the last three seasons – only behind Eden Hazard in this statistic.

After injury saw a delayed start to 2017-2018, Zaha’s return to first-team action was well-timed. Hodgson was now Crystal Palace manager and determined to make Zaha the focal point of his team after missing out on using him more regularly at international level with England. In his first game back, he scored the winning goal against reigning champions Chelsea – the club’s first goals and win of the season.

In April 2018, he scored four times in the month and was given the Premier League Player of the Month award, including two goals – one was a rare header in a crucial 3-2 success over Brighton. He was voted as the club’s Player of the Year again for a third successive season, matching a feat only previously achieved by Julian Speroni.

2018-2019 began with a goal on the opening day at Fulham in a 2-0 win and in a 2-1 loss at Watford a fortnight later, Zaha scored his 24th Premier League goal for the club, which saw him overtake Chris Armstrong as the club’s most successful top-flight goalscorer. His recent form has seen him score crucial goals against both Leicester City and Burnley in priceless away victories that mean the club is looking at another mid-table finish this season.

Memorable Matches: Crystal Palace 3-3 Liverpool FC (May 2014)

Goalscorers: Joe Allen 18, Damien Delaney 53 OG, Luis Suarez 55, Damien Delaney 79, Dwight Gayle 81, 88


Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney, Adrian Mariappa, Joel Ward, Kagisho Dikgacoi (Tom Ince 85), Mile Jedinak, Jason Puncheon (Dwight Gayle 65), Joe Ledley, Yannick Bolasie, Marouane Chamakh (Glenn Murray 71)

Liverpool FC: Simon Mignolet, Jon Flanagan, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson, Lucas, Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling (Philippe Coutinho 78), Daniel Sturridge (Victor Moses 86), Luis Suarez

Referee: Mark Clattenburg, Attendance: 25,261

Following Manchester City’s win at Everton 48 hours earlier, Liverpool FC couldn’t afford any slip-ups in their penultimate match of the 2013-2014 season at Selhurst Park against an ever-improving Crystal Palace side. The Reds knew a victory would put them top of the table again, even if the destiny of the championship was out of their hands.

Goal difference was against the Reds but they were an attacking threat from all directions and this was shown early on when Glen Johnson made a deep run from full-back and only just headed wide of the post after being picked out beautifully by Joe Allen. On 18 minutes, Allen opened the scoring. The Welshman escaped his markers at the far post to guide home Steven Gerrard’s corner, scoring his first Premier League goal for the club in the process.

Palace came into the match having won five of their last six matches and certainly contributed to the contest. Both Jason Puncheon and Mile Jedinak forced Simon Mignolet into vital saves in the first half to preserve Liverpool’s lead at the interval.

That advantage was doubled eight minutes into the second half. Daniel Sturridge’s shot deflected off Damien Delaney and into the corner of Julian Speroni’s net. Two minutes later, Raheem Sterling picked out Luis Suarez and the Premier League’s top scorer bagged his 31st goal of the campaign from close-range. All of a sudden, Liverpool had raced clear into a 3-0 lead and sensed an opportunity to score more goals. They didn’t come and Brendan Rodgers’ side were about to be stunned in an amazing final 11 minutes.

First, Delaney’s fortunes changed. Given time to try his luck, the centre-back saw his own effort deflect off Johnson and rise into the top corner, giving Mignolet no chance. It was a time for Liverpool to stay calm and take the result they had but two minutes later, Palace grabbed another goal back. Yannick Bolasie’s searing pace on the counter-attack left the visitors short in defensive numbers. Bolasie picked out substitute Dwight Gayle who produced an excellent finish into the bottom corner.

The home supporters could sense the sudden shift in momentum and the remarkable comeback was completed in the 88th minute. A long ball up the field was chested on by Glenn Murray into the path of Gayle who scored his second of the evening to make it 3-3. In eight crazy minutes, the Reds had forfeited a three-goal lead and their title chances were all but gone. As Martin Tyler put it in his Sky Sports commentary: “Liverpool have caved in!”

Rodgers’ side had one final chance from a corner but Lucas was denied by Speroni and soon afterwards, the final whistle was blown. The point did actually take Liverpool top of the table but it was advantage Manchester City. The tears from Suarez at full-time said it all. Liverpool had thrown it away and six days later, Manchester City’s second Premier League title was confirmed.

Premier League Rewind: 20th-22nd December 1997

Results: Aston Villa 1-1 Southampton, Blackburn Rovers 3-0 West Ham United, Derby County 0-0 Crystal Palace, Leeds United 2-0 Bolton Wanderers, Leicester City 0-1 Everton, Liverpool FC 1-0 Coventry City, Sheffield Wednesday 1-4 Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Barnsley, Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester United, Wimbledon A-A Arsenal

This was the final round of matches before Christmas 1997, so the 1997-1998 Premier League table was beginning to take shape.

Defending champions Manchester United came into this round of fixtures four points clear. Whatever happened over the course of the weekend, they would spend Christmas Day on top of the table. They visited Tyneside to take on Newcastle United, who had been their closest challengers for the title in the last two seasons.

Newcastle though were not a factor this season and were beaten by their former hero, Andy Cole, whose second half header was enough to ensure a fifth successive victory for Alex Ferguson’s side since their November loss at Highbury to Arsenal. Peter Schmeichel though played a major part in them claiming the three points. His amazing save from a John Barnes header would earn him the ‘Save of the Decade’ at the Premier League 10 Seasons Awards in 2002.

Newcastle were 17 points off the pace and languishing in ninth spot having not won a single game in December. Instead, the nearest challengers to the Red Devils were the only other former Premier League title winners in Blackburn Rovers. Roy Hodgson’s side had lost just twice all campaign and responded brilliantly to a 4-0 loss at Old Trafford three weeks earlier. They consolidated second spot in the table, as they swotted aside West Ham United 3-0 at Ewood Park. Young prodigy Damien Duff scored twice for the home side whilst West Ham had Steve Lomas sent off.

Chelsea were enjoying their best run of form in the season and Ruud Gullit’s side would complete the top three on Christmas Day. They won 4-1 at Hillsborough against Sheffield Wednesday. Former Owls player Dan Petrescu, Gianluca Vialli, Franck Leboeuf from the penalty spot and Tore Andre Flo all scored in another impressive away display from the Blues. It was Ron Atkinson’s first home defeat since returning to Wednesday for a second spell as manager.

Leeds United were having a good campaign in George Graham’s first full season in the dugout. They beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0 at Elland Road to remain in the top four. Liverpool FC edged out Coventry City 1-0 to move into fifth and above Arsenal, who were now trailing United by 13 points in the table. The Gunners had lost four of their last six Premier League games and their title hopes looked slim at this point in the season. However, they couldn’t respond to all their rivals winning earlier in the weekend.

13 seconds into the second half of their Monday Night Football match with Wimbledon at Selhurst Park, the floodlights failed with the scoreline at 0-0. The lights didn’t come back on and incredibly, a third Premier League match in the season had been abandoned because of floodlight failure.

After two heavy losses, there was some relief for new Tottenham boss Christian Gross as his side comfortably beat Barnsley 3-0 at White Hart Lane, ensuring the Tykes would be bottom of the table at Christmas. Despite the win, Spurs remained in the bottom three as did Everton, who recorded their first win and goal in five matches. Gary Speed’s 89th minute penalty beat Leicester City 1-0 at Filbert Street.

What else happened in December 1997?

  • There is a political wedding as the leader of the Conservative party, William Hague marries Ffion Jenkins.
  • Football legend Tom Finney and singer Elton John are among those knighted in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.
  • After 44 years in service, the Royal Yacht, Britannia is decommissioned.
  • Inside Long Kesh prison in Northern Ireland, Ulster loyalist paramilitary leader Billy Wright is assassinated.
  • The highest grossing film of all-time, Titanic makes its premier in the United States.
  • The Kyoto Protocol is adopted by a UN committee.
  • The capital of Kazakhstan is moved from Almaty to Astana.

Iconic Moments: A striking star is born at Selhurst (May 1997)

Michael Owen had a knack throughout his schoolboy days of scoring goals for a living. As he climbed rapidly through the youth ranks at Liverpool FC, it looked like the Merseysiders had another young superstar about to make a sudden emergence on the first-team.

Owen was looking to follow in the footsteps of Robbie Fowler back in 1993 when he emerged from nowhere to become a prolific goalscorer for LFC as soon as he reached the senior side. Rated as the best attacker of his age in the country, Owen was put on the bench for Liverpool’s penultimate match of the 1996-1997 Premier League campaign which was a tricky trip to Selhurst Park to play Wimbledon.

Liverpool still had an outside shot of winning the title but those faint chances evaporated when they went 2-0 down thanks to goals from Jason Euell and Dean Holdsworth. Boss Roy Evans decided to throw Owen on in the vain hope of finding three goals to take the title fight to the last day.

16 minutes from time, Stig Inge Bjornebye steered a pass through and Owen raced onto the ball and showed great maturity in dispatching the ball into the Wimbledon net. It wasn’t enough on the night as Liverpool lost 2-1 but Owen’s cameo was a sign of things to come. The Liverpool Echo said a day later: “Only teenage substitute Michael Owen could emerge with any credit from a performance that mocked Anfield’s rich traditions before time started running out.”

In all competitions, Owen scored 158 goals for Liverpool FC before leaving for Real Madrid in the summer of 2004. The Premier League title eluded him in his Anfield days but he did win five trophies in 2001, and was crowned the European Football of the Year – the last Englishman to do so.

And it all started on a lifeless night for Liverpool in general where a striking star was born at Selhurst.

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.