Tag Archives: Sheffield United

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: Dane Whitehouse

Premier League Career: Sheffield United (1992-1994)

Dane Whitehouse was a one-club man throughout his career. He figured for Sheffield United in the very first two seasons of Premier League football and continued to play for them until 1997. A committed left-winger, Whitehouse also filled in regularly at left-back and often gave sterling performances.

He signed professionally for the Yorkshire side in July 1987 and a year later, made his professional debut against Blackpool aged just 18. It wasn’t until the 1991-1992 season that Whitehouse became a regular figure in the starting XI at Bramwall Lane. He scored three goals that season in the FA Cup. Unfortunately, injuries restricted him to just 14 appearances in the very first season of the Premier League. His debut came in a win over Liverpool FC in September 1992 and he still scored five goals, including a double on the final day in a 4-2 victory against Chelsea.

Despite collecting 10 yellow cards in 1993-1994, Whitehouse was one of the Blades’ key players that season. He only missed four league matches, scoring five times including in a crucial win against relegation rivals Oldham Athletic. In March 1994, Dane struck a genuine contender for Goal of the Season against West Ham United. Trailing 2-0 early on in a game they needed to win to stay in touch with the other relegation scrappers, the ball dropped to Whitehouse outside the penalty area. He launched a blistering drive that flew into the net from nearly 30-yards out. Sadly, that was to be his last goal at this level. An agonising 3-2 loss to Chelsea on the final day sent Sheffield United crashing out of the Premier League as results went against them.

Although several Premier League sides were interested in recruiting Whitehouse, he stayed loyal to the team he had supported from birth. In November 1997, Whitehouse’s career came to a shuddering halt against Port Vale. He was victim to a crude challenge from Gareth Ainsworth which left him with a serious knee injury. Despite attempting to regain full fitness, he had to admit defeat in his battle to return to the pitch and retired at the start of the millennium. Ainsworth has since admitted: “I sent him a letter when I knew it was a serious injury. There was no reply. Obviously, I do feel bad it was me in the tackle. But you never mean to end anyone’s career.”

Premier League Files: Paddy Kenny

Premier League Career: Sheffield United (2006-2007), Queens Park Rangers (2011-2012)

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Paddy Kenny is still operating in the game, now at semi-professional level with Maltby Main, currently playing in the ninth tier of the English league system. He featured in the Premier League for two campaigns with Sheffield United and Queens Park Rangers and was a popular favourite with the current Cardiff City boss, Neil Warnock.

Born in Yorkshire, Kenny began his career with Bradford Park Avenue. He was playing semi-professional at weekends and earning his income in the working week as an engineer. His impressive performances for Bradford PA saw him earn trials at Birmingham City and Bradford City. Warnock eventually snapped him up at Bury as those clubs dithered on signing him in the summer of 1998. His career would be twinned with Warnock’s movements for the bulk of his prime years in football.

After four years at Gigg Lane, he was signed by Warnock again, who was now in charge of Sheffield United. In his first full season at Bramwall Lane, he played a significant part in the Blades’ run to the FA Cup semi-finals, the final four of the League Cup and a spot in the play-off final which ended in a 3-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Promotion was finally achieved to the Premier League in 2006.

In just his fourth Premier League appearance, Kenny saved his first penalty in the top-flight, keeping out an attempt from Lucas Neill in a goalless draw between Sheffield United and Blackburn Rovers. In the same match, his opposite number, Brad Friedel made two penalty saves. Despite some unsavoury off-field headlines including requiring 12 stitches following a drunken brawl in Halifax in November 2006, he was a key figure in their season back in the Premier League. Despite his best efforts though, Sheffield United were relegated on the final day of the season after losing 2-1 at home to relegation rivals Wigan Athletic.

He stayed in Yorkshire despite Warnock resigning from his position as manager. 2009 would be a real low point in his career. He failed a drugs test following a play-off victory over Preston North End. He admitted later in an interview with the Independent: “I looked back and realised I’d taken these tablets (ChestEze) for a chest infection. I seriously didn’t think about it. In hindsight it was so stupid and clumsy of me. It is a lesson for everyone that you have got to be careful.”

He was banned from all professional football in September 2009 for nine months and had to train in parks rather than training fields. Sheffield United stuck by him and agreed a new contract with the player but he opted to join Queens Park Rangers in the summer of 2010 – managed now by…Neil Warnock!  During his first season at Loftus Road, he achieved promotion again to the Premier League and a Championship title winners’ medal in the bargain. He remained as first-choice goalkeeper on the Hoops’ return to the Premier League elite, keeping seven clean sheets in 33 appearances. QPR retained their Premier League status on the final day of the season despite losing that epic 3-2 clash at Manchester City. For the record, Kenny was the goalkeeper beaten by Sergio Aguero’s dramatic injury-time heroics.

Mark Hughes had replaced Warnock during the 2011-2012 season and he elected to sign Robert Green that summer on a free transfer from West Ham United. That meant Kenny would be deemed surplus to requirements. Warnock was now in charge of Leeds United and guess who he signed…Paddy Kenny! He stayed at Leeds for two years and has also had brief spells with little success at Bolton Wanderers, Oldham Athletic, Ipswich Town and Bury for a second time. He won seven caps at international level before retiring in 2007.

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.

The Managers: Dave Bassett

Premier League Clubs Managed: Sheffield United (1992-1994), Nottingham Forest (1998-1999), Leicester City (2001-2002)

Dave Bassett experienced the joys of management in the 1980s and the difficulties of top-flight pain in the 1990s. He was a specialist at getting clubs promoted but keeping them in the Premier League was often the tricky part. However, he is still credited for doing impressive work at Sheffield United and for putting the name of Wimbledon on the footballing map.

In his playing days, Bassett was a defensive midfielder at semi-professional level. He played for the likes of St Albans City, Wimbledon and Wycombe Wanderers and retired from playing in 1975.

Wimbledon was where he would start his coaching and management career and he would remain part of the ‘Crazy Gang’ for the next decade and their impressive rise up the English footballing pyramid.

Promotion after promotion

He started out as assistant manager at the London club in 1977 and took the reins on four years later after Dario Gradi left for Crystal Palace. In his first few months at the club, he took Wimbledon into the Third Division.

Relegation did follow immediately in 1982 but only on the dreaded goal difference separation. However, Bassett’s remarkable and see-saw time at Plough Lane would continue with back-to-back promotions. That meant for the first time in their history, Wimbledon supporters could look forward to Second Division football in 1984. That was where it looked like the journey might end.

Crystal Palace were on the lookout for a new manager and in June 1984, Dave accepted an offer to become their manager. 72 hours later, he changed his mind – luckily having not inked his signature onto the contract at Selhurst Park. He defended his decision to stick with his current employers, stating: “I gave it some serious thought, but in the end it just did not feel right. We have unfinished business, and I didn’t really want to leave here.”

By October 1985, Wimbledon were sitting third in the table and had a realistic chance of a third promotion in four seasons. Only Swansea City had achieved this previously. On the last day, a draw at Bradford City was enough for the Dons to seal the third automatic promotion spot and reach the promise land of the First Division. Incredibly, this arrived within nine years of joining the Football League.

New challenges

In 1987, Wimbledon put together an impressive FA Cup run and became a dangerous side in that competition on a regular basis for the next decade. League champions Everton were defeated 3-1 in the fifth round and only a mighty effort from Tottenham Hotspur in round six saw Wembley hopes put on hold. In the league, Wimbledon finished an impressive sixth in their first season at this level – even ahead of Manchester United. However, Bassett felt he had taken the club as far as he possibly could and left in June of that year to take charge of Watford.

During his time at Wimbledon, he had developed the likes of Vinnie Jones, Dennis Wise and Dave Beasant and when they beat Liverpool FC in the 1988 FA Cup final, new manager Bobby Gould was quick to acknowledge the contribution Bassett had made to the success.

Wimbledon was a wonderful time for Dave but Watford was a woeful time. He sold the likes of David Bardsley and Kevin Richardson on his arrival, dropped first-choice goalie Tony Coton and John Barnes transferred to Liverpool FC. Bottom of the league in January 1988, the blame for the Hornets’ sudden drop in performance was laid squarely at Bassett’s door. He was given the sack.

Sheffield United was his next stop just days after being sacked by Watford. 1987-1988 was a dreadful season for Dave Bassett. He became one of the few managers with the dubious honour of being involved with two relegated clubs in the same season. The Blades’ lost a relegation playoff to Bristol City and slipped into the Third Division.

However, they were soon on the rise again. With Bassett bringing in his own backroom team that summer, they went straight back up to Division Two and in 1990, made it consecutive promotions. First Division football would return to Bramall Lane for the first time in over 20 years.

13th and 9th place finishes were achieved in their first two seasons at this level and therefore, Sheffield United would play their part in the first Premier League season.

Stamford Bridge agony

The goals of Brian Deane helped the club survive in the 1992-1993 season as they finished 14th. Deane scored the very first Premier League goal and the Blades’ also had the honour of being the first club to inflict relegation on another side. Their 2-0 victory on the penultimate weekend at the City Ground spelt relegation for Nottingham Forest and an unhappy end to Brian Clough’s management career.

Deane was sold in the summer of 1993 to Yorkshire rivals Leeds United and without him; a relegation struggle would take place in 1993-1994. However, it looked like it was a battle Bassett would win but his luck would run out in an agonising final day at Stamford Bridge.

With five minutes remaining, the visitors’ were 2-1 ahead and looked set to finish as high as 15th in the final standings. Then, things twisted against them. Everton scored late to defeat Wimbledon, Ipswich held on for a draw at Blackburn and the Blades’ conceded two late goals to allow Chelsea to win 3-2. Unbelievably, Sheffield United were relegated and the players were left gutted. Bassett stayed on until December 1995 before resigning with a promotion challenge looking less likely.

Two months later, he was back in the dugout and at Crystal Palace – signing a contract this time. The club had been relegated from the Premier League a season earlier and had sold Chris Armstrong, Gareth Southgate, Chris Coleman and Iain Dowie. Palace were 16th in the table on his arrival but went on a remarkable run and they finished third in the final standings. Unfortunately, there would be more late heartache for Bassett. Steve Claridge scored an extra-time winner in the playoff final to take Leicester City back to the Premier League at Palace’s expense.

Onto Forest

In March 1997, Bassett left Crystal Palace to try and save Nottingham Forest from the Premier League drop. It was an almost impossible situation and relegation did follow but they were promoted back to the top-flight at the first time of asking. Forest won the Division One title with style and class in 1998, helped by the goals of Pierre van Hooijdonk.

However, the Dutchman walked out on the club in pre-season and when he had a U-turn and returned in October 1998, relegation again looked very probable. Forest had won just two Premier League games all season when Bassett was sacked in January 1999 following an FA Cup exit at home to lowly Portsmouth.

He returned to the Premier League in 2001 with Leicester City with the club rooted to the bottom of the table and just one win under their belt. After a six-year stint in the top-flight, it would be relegation once more on Bassett’s CV. A four-month winless run from mid-December sealed the Foxes’ fate in early April after defeat to Manchester United. Bassett moved upstairs to take a Director of Football role and handed management control to Micky Adams. Since then, he has had brief caretaker roles with Leicester again and Southampton before leaving the game on his departure from the south coast in December 2005.

Dave Bassett was often called upon to rescue a club from the depths of despair. His record in the lower levels is among the best. His Premier League track record wasn’t as strong but he still remains one of the original ‘Houdini’ acts of football management.

Memorable Matches: Sheffield United 6-0 Tottenham Hotspur (March 1993)

Goalscorers: Franz Carr 13, Andy Gray 21 OG, Ian Bryson 28, 29, Brian Deane 73, Paul Rogers 87

Teams:

Sheffield United: Alan Kelly, John Pemberton, Kevin Gage, Charlie Hartfield, David Barnes (Paul Rogers 70), Franz Carr, Ian Bryson (Alan Cork 80), Brian Gayle, Glyn Hodges, Brian Deane, Jamie Hoyland

Tottenham Hotspur: Erik Thorstvedt, Dean Austin, Gary Mabbutt, Pat Van den Hauwe, Jason Cundy, Andy Gray (Steve Sedgley 64), Paul Allen, Vinny Samways, Darren Anderton, Nayim (John Hendry 64), Teddy Sheringham

Referee: Joe Worrall, Attendance: 16,654

Tottenham Hotspur arrived at Bramwall Lane for a match against Sheffield United in the inaugural Premier League campaign in their best form of the season. Spurs had rolled off five successive victories and were starting to challenge for a top six finish, whilst the Blades were looking to move away from danger, starting the game in 17th spot.

On a cold Tuesday evening, few could predict the mauling the visitors’ were about to take from their hosts. 13 minutes had been played when Franz Carr fired Dave Bassett’s side into the lead. He turned a short corner into the roof of the net.

Seven minutes later, the lead was doubled. Brian Deane’s cross was turned into his own net by midfielder Andy Gray (no, not the former Everton player, another Andy Gray!) Norwegian goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt was one of only two foreign players that started the match but he endured a nightmare evening. Within half an hour, the scoreline had widened from 2-0 to 4-0. Scottish midfielder Ian Bryson struck a quick-fire double. His first came as the Tottenham defence went walkabouts. The second saw him completely unmarked after another decisive cross from Deane.

There was little that Tottenham’s management team of Doug Livermore and Ray Clemence could do about their predicament and it got worse in the second half. Deane added his name to the scoresheet in the 73rd minute, capitalising on poor defending from Jason Cundy. Substitute Paul Rogers completed the rout in the closing minutes.

The result remains Tottenham’s joint-worst defeat in Premier League history and the biggest victory in the top-flight for the Yorkshire side. Spurs did still finish eighth in the table but with a goal difference of -6. Chairman Alan Sugar decided in June 1993 to dismiss both Livermore and Clemence and replace them with playing idol Ossie Ardiles. Bassett helped his team to an FA Cup semi-final and a creditable 14th-place finish although a heartbreaking relegation would follow one season later.

Premier League Rewind: 15th – 17th August 1992

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

After all the hype, the anticipation and the build-up, a new dawn for English football began on Saturday 15th August 1992 – the very first day of action in the newly-formed FA Premier League.

18 of the 22 clubs took part on the first day of action and there was a fast start at Bramwall Lane, where the first goal in the league’s history was scored by Brian Deane of Sheffield United. His header after just five minutes opened the scoring against title favourites Manchester United. Deane added another goal in the second half as the Blades came away with a 2-1 victory and gave the Red Devils plenty of food for thought.

Arsenal were also among the bookies’ favourites for the inaugural title. English champions in 1989 and 1991, the Gunners started against Norwich City, who had just managed to avoid relegation the previous campaign. Whilst the North Bank standing terrace had been demolished for an all-seater replacement, the controversial ‘Highbury Mural’ took its place. It was created to hide the various cranes and construction works that would be in place during its restructure. The team found no inspiration. In fact, they crumbled from a 2-0 winning position to lose 4-2. Norwich would end the opening weekend on top of the table.

The defending champions were Leeds United and they started off with an edgy 2-1 home win over Wimbledon. Lee Chapman scored both goals for Howard Wilkinson’s side. Home form wouldn’t be too much of an issue in their title defence but their away record was terrible and would totally derail any long-term title tilt in 1992/1993.

Blackburn Rovers were new to the top-flight, having been promoted via the playoffs. They had spent big too that summer, smashing the British transfer record to sign Southampton striker Alan Shearer, who had been courted by Manchester United. Shearer immediately started to repay the first instalments of the fee. He scored twice at Selhurst Park but Blackburn were to be denied an opening win in the blazing South London sunshine. Simon Osborn scored in the last minute to ensure a share of the spoils for Crystal Palace.

“A Whole New Ball Game” began a day later with the first live game televised by Sky Sports. Teddy Sheringham had the honour of scoring the first live televised goal in the Premier League. His strike was enough for Nottingham Forest to defeat Liverpool FC 1-0 at the City Ground on Ford Super Sunday. It would prove to be Sheringham’s final goal as a Forest player. Days later, he was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur.

The final weekend concluded with Manchester City vs. Queens Park Rangers on the Monday Night Football. David White scored from close range to give the home side the lead. This was swiftly cancelled out in the second half by an Andy Sinton blockbuster. 1-1 was the final score at Maine Road.

30 goals were scored on the first weekend of Premier League football. The omens were good for a fruitful opening season in the new English top-flight.

What else happened in August 1992?

  • David Gower plays in his final cricket test match for England.
  • The 25th Olympic Games come to a conclusion in Barcelona. Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell and Chris Boardman are among the Gold Medal winners for Great Britain.
  • 35 people lose their lives as Hurricane Andrew hits South Florida.
  • Canada, Mexico, and the United States announce a deal is reached on the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • Intimate photographs of the Duchess of York and a Texan businessman, John Bryan, are published in the Daily Mirror.
  • Nigel Mansell wins the FIA Formula One World Championship after finishing second to Ayrton Senna at the Hungarian Grand Prix.