Tag Archives: Stan Collymore

Shock Results: Manchester United 1-2 Nottingham Forest (December 1994)

Goalscorers: Stan Collymore 35, Stuart Pearce 62, Eric Cantona 68

Teams:

Manchester United: Gary Walsh, Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin, Gary Pallister, Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Ryan Giggs (Nicky Butt 74), Andrei Kanchelskis (Gary Neville 87), Brian McClair, Eric Cantona, Mark Hughes

Nottingham Forest: Mark Crossley, Steve Chettle, Des Lyttle, Stuart Pearce, Alf-Inge Haaland, Scot Gemmill, David Phillips, Steve Stone, Ian Woan, Stan Collymore, Bryan Roy (Lars Bohinen 84)

Referee: Keith Burge, Attendance: 43,744

Manchester United had gone eight whole months without conceding a home Premier League goal at Old Trafford. Despite being distracted slightly by their European commitments, the reigning champions were still just a point behind league leaders Blackburn Rovers before kicking-off at home to Nottingham Forest.

Having made a brilliant start on their top-flight return, Forest’s form had levelled out, with just one win in seven league matches and a recent exit in the League Cup at home to First Division Millwall. Frank Clark’s side were not expected to stop the United juggernaut. The Red Devils had only dropped two points since beating Blackburn 4-2 back in October.

In the first 20 minutes, it was the home side that looked more likely to score. Mark Hughes was desperately unlucky not to open the scoring; with his volley smashing the crossbar with Mark Crossley well-beaten and Andrei Kanchelskis’s fizzling free-kick only just cleared the bar moments later. However, Forest were causing some problems from set-pieces and Stan Collymore had the ball in the net but the goal was disallowed for him impeding his marker at a corner.

Collymore was a Manchester United transfer target and had scored in the 1-1 draw between the sides back in August at The City Ground. 10 minutes before half-time, he found the back of the net again against the team who had turned Premier League clean sheets at Old Trafford into an art. Found by Bryan Roy, Collymore cut inside Denis Irwin and before Gary Pallister could make a sliding challenge, the striker unleased a powerful shot into the top corner of Gary Walsh’s goal. United’s defence had been breached after 1,135 minutes since Graeme Sharp had scored in April 1994 for Oldham Athletic.

Collymore missed another glorious opportunity early in the second half but Forest found their second goal just past the hour mark. From a short corner routine, Steve Chettle’s flick-on was only partially cleared into the path of the captain, Stuart Pearce. His shot took a deflection off one of the charging defenders and left Walsh completely stranded. The visitors had a two-goal buffer to defend.

The home side’s frustration started to boil over. Referee Keith Burge gave out yellow cards to Ryan Giggs, Roy and Des Lyttle after a couple of ugly skirmishes. Both Giggs and Roy were lucky to avoid further sanction. On 68 minutes, Manchester United found a way through. From a Giggs corner, Eric Cantona flicked the ball into the net on the near post despite the efforts of Steve Stone on the goal-line.

Stone did clear a late effort off the line from Paul Ince and despite waves of intense pressure, Nottingham Forest held on for their fourth victory in their last 12 visits to Old Trafford. It would turn out to be Manchester United’s only home loss of the domestic season and a costly one. They missed out on a third successive title in May by just a single point.

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Premier League Rewind: 16th-17th September 1995

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

There were early signs in the 1995-1996 title race that Newcastle United and Manchester United were destined to be involved in a huge two-way scrap for the championship. Six games into the season and they were equal on points, victories and defeats. Those records were maintained in this round of action in mid-September.

Newcastle bounced back from a disappointing defeat in their previous fixture away to Southampton. The Geordies were far too strong for a hapless Manchester City side at St James’ Park, losing 3-1 to remain at the foot of the table with just one point to their name so far. The visitors’ cause wasn’t helped by Richard Edghill’s cheap dismissal and Les Ferdinand added another two goals to his tally. Ferdinand had made a brilliant start to his Newcastle career and had now scored six goals in his first six games for the club.

After their own slack opening to the season at Villa Park, Manchester United were starting to find their form. Alex Ferguson’s team made it five successive victories as newly-promoted Bolton Wanderers were simply no match for the Red Devils at Old Trafford. Paul Scholes scored twice and Ryan Giggs added his name to the scoresheet. United were still missing Eric Cantona who was a fortnight away from completing his eight-month suspension for a kung-fu kick at a Crystal Palace supporter.

The defending champions were Blackburn Rovers but they were well off the pace and looking more like relegation candidates. They returned to Anfield just four months after lifting the title there in the previous season and were crushed by Liverpool FC. Liverpool scored three times in the first 29 minutes, courtesy of Robbie Fowler’s diving header and long-range efforts by Jamie Redknapp and Stan Collymore. Henning Berg’s second half dismissal compounded to a miserable afternoon for the champions who had just four points to their name from six games and were only outside the relegation zone on goal difference.

Liverpool FC finished the weekend in fourth place, one point adrift of Aston Villa. Villa had struggled throughout the previous season but were keen for this to be an anomaly. Mark Draper and Ian Taylor scored the goals in their 2-0 home victory over an inconsistent Wimbledon.

Only two sides were unbeaten at this stage of the season and they sitting pretty in the top six. The sides in question were Arsenal and Nottingham Forest. The Gunners hadn’t really sparkled under new manager Bruce Rioch so far and Dennis Bergkamp was still goalless since his summer arrival from Inter Milan. It was Ian Wright’s penalty that was good enough to edge out West Ham United 1-0 at Highbury.

A day later, Nottingham Forest beat Everton 3-2 on Super Sunday. Ian Woan’s long-range effort was the pick of the goals as Forest recorded their first win since the opening day of the season. Everton were about to embark on a seven-match winless run that would prove damaging to their chances of launching a top three challenge. Having achieved 10 points from four matches in August, Leeds United lost back-to-back games in September. They were surprisingly beaten 3-1 at home by Queens Park Rangers.

What else happened in September 1995?

  • Frank Bruno defeats Oliver McCall on points to finally win the WBC World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Regular DAB radio broadcasting begins courtesy of the BBC from the Crystal Palace transmitting station.
  • Led by Bernard Gallacher, Europe regain The Ryder Cup, beating USA at Oak Hill 14 ½ to 13 ½.
  • Despite attempts to bring an end to the conflict, the Bosnian War continues with NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb forces.
  • Accused of Mafia connections, the trial begins of former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti.
  • British racing driver Kieth O’dor, who won the 1993 British Touring Car Championship race that supported the British Grand Prix, is killed in a touring car race in Berlin. He is just 33-years-old.

The Clubs: Nottingham Forest

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
198 60 59 79 229 287 -58 239 5

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Steve Chettle 174
Mark Crossley 162
Ian Woan 132
Scot Gemmill 128
Stuart Pearce 123
Steve Stone 118
Des Lyttle 113
Colin Cooper 108
Bryan Roy 84
David Phillips 83

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Bryan Roy 24
Stan Collymore 22
Stuart Pearce 18
Ian Woan 17
Steve Stone 16
Jason Lee 12
Nigel Clough 11
Kevin Campbell 9
Gary Bannister 8
Colin Cooper 8

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Sheffield Wednesday 1-7 Nottingham Forest 1st April 1995 1994-1995
Leeds United 1-4 Nottingham Forest 5th December 1992 1992-1993
Nottingham Forest 4-1 Sheffield Wednesday 10th September 1994 1994-1995
Tottenham Hotspur 1-4 Nottingham Forest 24th September 1994 1994-1995
Nottingham Forest 4-1 Ipswich Town 10th December 1994 1994-1995
Nottingham Forest 4-1 Wimbledon 6th November 1995 1995-1996
Nottingham Forest 3-0 Chelsea 16th January 1993 1992-1993
Nottingham Forest 3-0 Southampton 18th March 1995 1994-1995
Nottingham Forest 3-0 Leeds United 22nd March 1995 1994-1995
Nottingham Forest 3-0 Manchester City 30th September 1995 1995-1996

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Nottingham Forest 1-8 Manchester United 6th February 1999 1998-1999
Blackburn Rovers 7-0 Nottingham Forest 18th November 1995 1995-1996
Manchester United 5-0 Nottingham Forest 28th April 1996 1995-1996
Newcastle United 5-0 Nottingham Forest 11th May 1997 1996-1997
Nottingham Forest 1-5 Blackburn Rovers 13th April 1996 1995-1996
Liverpool FC 5-1 Nottingham Forest 24th October 1998 1998-1999
Nottingham Forest 0-4 Manchester United 26th December 1996 1996-1997
Coventry City 4-0 Nottingham Forest 9th January 1999 1998-1999
Blackburn Rovers 4-1 Nottingham Forest 5th September 1992 1992-1993
Nottingham Forest 1-4 Sunderland 21st August 1996 1996-1997

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Brian Clough 1 8th May 1993
Frank Clark 3 19th December 1996
Stuart Pearce 1 30th June 1997
Dave Bassett 1 5th January 1999
Ron Atkinson 1 30th June 1999

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Nottingham Forest 1-8 Manchester United 6th February 1999 30,025 1998-1999
Nottingham Forest 1-1 Manchester United 27th November 1995 29,263 1995-1996
Nottingham Forest 1-1 Liverpool FC 15th March 1997 29,181 1996-1997
Nottingham Forest 1-0 Liverpool FC 23rd March 1996 29.058 1995-1996
Nottingham Forest 0-4 Manchester United 26th December 1996 29,032 1996-1997
Nottingham Forest 1-0 Manchester City 6th May 1995 28,882 1994-1995
Nottingham Forest 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur 4th March 1995 28,711 1994-1995
Nottingham Forest 2-2 Liverpool FC 5th April 1999 28,374 1998-1999
Nottingham Forest 1-1 West Ham United 8th April 1995 28,361 1994-1995
Nottingham Forest 2-0 Chelsea 11th January 1997 28,358 1996-1997

 

Intro

It has been nearly 20 years now since Nottingham Forest last graced the top-flight of English football. They still remain one of the biggest teams outside of the Premier League and still one of the most successful sides to have graced the European Cup following those back-to-back victories in 1979 and 1980. Forest have been relegated in three of their five Premier League seasons but also finished a fantastic third under the guidance of the shrewd Frank Clark in the 1994-1995 season.

 

1992-1993

Nottingham Forest began the new season with victory over Liverpool FC in the very-first live match on Sky Sports in the new league with Teddy Sheringham scoring the only goal of the game. Sheringham was sold shortly afterwards though to Tottenham Hotspur and the club followed up this Liverpool victory with six successive defeats. They were six points from safety going into the New Year.

A brief revival early in 1993 saw them climb out of the relegation zone at the end of February but just two wins from their last 10 matches saw their fate slide out of their control. On the eve of the final home match of the season against Sheffield United, legendary manager Brian Clough announced he was retiring from football management. Sadly, there was no happy ending. Forest lost 2-0 to the Blades and were relegated to the First Division. Clough would be replaced by Frank Clark.

 

1994-1995

After impressing at the World Cup finals with the Netherlands, Bryan Roy was signed by Frank Clark to help lead Nottingham Forest’s attack on their top-flight return. They enjoyed a brilliant season, staying unbeaten in their first 11 matches and sitting in second spot for much of the first three months of the campaign. After a 2-0 loss at home to Blackburn Rovers, there was a six-game winless sequence but Clark’s side continued to figure inside the top six throughout the season.

Stan Collymore scored 22 goals and he was also the first player in the season to score at Old Trafford when Forest pulled off a stunning 2-1 victory away at the reigning champions. In April, they recorded the biggest away victory of the season, thumping Sheffield Wednesday 7-1 at Hillsborough. A draw on the final weekend away at Wimbledon ensured a third place finish and UEFA Cup football for the following season. No promoted club has finished higher than this in Premier League history.

 

1995-1996

Progress at Nottingham Forest stuttered in 1995-1996 after Collymore was sold in the summer to Liverpool FC for a British transfer record fee. Andrea Silenzi was signed as his replacement and proved to be a complete flop although the additions of Kevin Campbell from Arsenal and Chris Bart-Williams from Sheffield Wednesday were useful acquisitions.

Again, they enjoyed a lengthy unbeaten start to the season. A 12-match unbeaten sequence which culminated with a 4-1 victory at home to Wimbledon in early November took Clark’s side into third place in the table. Two weeks later, that unbeaten run ended dramatically with a 7-0 beating away at Blackburn Rovers. Their domestic season never quite recovered from that demoralising performance and Forest faded to ninth place and mid-table mediocrity.

Ian Woan sparkled and scored a crucial long-range effort to deny Newcastle United a vital victory in their title run-in challenge whilst a quarter-final run in the UEFA Cup was the best effort from a British team in European competition that season.

 

1996-1997

Nottingham Forest topped the table after the opening round of fixtures when Kevin Campbell scored a hat-trick on a scorching afternoon at Highfield Road against Coventry City. That 3-0 victory was the high point in a dreadful campaign for the club. Frank Clark failed to win another league match during his reign and in mid-December; he resigned after a 4-2 loss at Anfield. Club captain Stuart Pearce was given the opportunity to manage the team and he did spearhead a shock victory over Arsenal in his first match in-charge.

A three-game winning sequence at the start of January took the Midlands side out of the bottom three but Dean Saunders’ winner at White Hart Lane in early March would turn out to be the last victory of the season for Nottingham Forest. They collected just six points from their remaining 11 fixtures and were relegated on the final Saturday of the season after failing to beat Wimbledon at home. Pearce left at the end of the season to continue his playing career at Newcastle United and was replaced by Dave Bassett.

 

1998-1999

After romping away with the First Division title in 1998, Nottingham Forest made an instant return to the Premier League but their plans were thrown in disarray when unhappy that Kevin Campbell had been sold to Trabzonspor, star striker Pierre van Hooijdonk went on-strike in the summer!

Forest did win two of their opening three games but soon fell into trouble and didn’t record another victory until the end of January. By then, Van Hooijdonk had returned to the club and Dave Bassett was sacked following an FA Cup loss to First Division Portsmouth. Ron Atkinson answered the call to save the sinking ship but even he couldn’t prevent the inevitable.

Van Hooijdonk did score a winner at Goodison Park in Atkinson’s second game in-charge but a week later, they lost 8-1 at home to Manchester United in a scoreline that still remains as the biggest home defeat in Premier League history. Relegation was confirmed at the end of April at Villa Park, although they did win their last three matches of the season against Sheffield Wednesday, Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City.

Great Goals: Stan Collymore – LIVERPOOL FC vs. Sheffield Wednesday (August 1995)

In the summer of 1995, Liverpool FC broke the British transfer record to sign Stan Collymore from Nottingham Forest for £7.5 million. Collymore was seen as one of the most exciting talents in English football and his debut for his new club at home to Sheffield Wednesday saw him produce the kind of magic everyone knew he had the capability to do.

An hour had been played and David Pleat’s Owls were frustrating Liverpool with Collymore and new strike partner Ian Rush having limited chances to make an impact. Then, Collymore delivered in the grand manner. Receiving the ball slightly fortunately from John Barnes, he twisted and span past Julian Watts. Chris Waddle had a brief tug at his shirt but nothing was going to stop Liverpool’s new forward.

He curled a memorable shot into Kevin Pressman’s net and won the game for Roy Evans’ side. Collymore did come up with other vital goals and worked well with hotshot Robbie Fowler but he did generally frustrate supporters during his two seasons on Merseyside.

The Managers: Frank Clark

Premier League Clubs Managed: Nottingham Forest (1994-1996)

Succeeding the legend that was Brian Clough was never going to be easy at Nottingham Forest but Frank Clark did it his way and enjoyed a fairly successful spell as manager of the former European Cup winners. His excellent man-management skills saw him get the best out of players like Steve Stone, Ian Woan and Bryan Roy. Forest flourished under his guidance, finishing in a brilliant third place in the Premier League table in 1995. He returned to the club in the 21st century for a brief spell as the chairman at The City Ground.

A European Cup winner

Clark’s playing days started at Crook Town in 1961 as an amateur before making the professional breakthrough at Newcastle United. He spent 13 years as a player on Tyneside, featuring 464 times for them in all competitions. He never scored for the club but did experience victory in the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final against Hungarian outfit Újpest.

In July 1975, his links with Nottingham Forest began when Clough signed him on a free transfer. He was an ever-present at full-back for the next two campaigns as Forest were about to embark on the most golden period of their existence. He won promotion to the top-flight in 1977 and a year later, they won both the League Cup and the Football League championship title. In 1979, the Midlands side beat Malmo 1-0 in the European Cup final with the only goal coming from the £1 million man, Trevor Francis.

This was to be Clark’s final game as a professional player. He retired shortly afterwards.

A tough act to follow

Frank’s first steps in coaching were at Sunderland, where he served as their assistant manager for three years. In 1982, he became manager of Leyton Orient, taking a position later on as managing director of the Londoners.

He took charge of over 400 matches as Leyton Orient boss before stepping down in the summer of 1991. Two years later, he would return to Nottingham Forest as Clough’s successor. Clark astutely used some of Clough’s players, rekindling the careers of Steve Chettle, Mark Crossley and Stuart Pearce by adding a fresh impetus with the arrivals of David Phillips, Lars Bohinen and of course, Stan Collymore.

In his first full season in the dugout at The City Ground, Clark guided the club back to the Premier League at the first attempt, finishing second in the First Division behind Crystal Palace. Clough would congratulate him for the achievement but added: “If he wants to emulate what we did in the late 1970s he’ll need to be bloody good.”

It was a tough act to follow but he was doing it his own way. Nottingham Forest started the 1994-1995 season with an 11-game unbeaten sequence that left them flying high in second position in the table. They were playing some breathtaking football. Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield Wednesday were both beaten 4-1 and Wimbledon lost 3-1 as the likes of Roy, Collymore and Bohinen flourished spectacularly. Clark won the Manager of the Month award for September 1994. Forest’s title challenge did fade in the winter months but they never dropped out of the top five and they rallied in the closing weeks to pip Liverpool FC and Newcastle United to third spot in the table.

No repeat performance

Hopes of a repeat performance in 1995-1996 were hurt by Collymore’s summer departure to Liverpool FC for a British transfer record fee of £8.5 million, whilst league champions Blackburn Rovers activated a clause in Bohinen’s contract which saw the Dutchman leave for Ewood Park in the season’s early weeks. However, they remained unbeaten again until mid-November before suffering a 7-0 pasting at Blackburn. Forest finished ninth in the table but upheld British honour in continental competition, going the furthest. They reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup before bowing out to eventual winners, Bayern Munich.

The momentum though couldn’t be maintained. There was turmoil in the boardroom with rival parties attempting to buy the club and form drastically disappeared on-the-pitch. After a 3-0 opening day win at Coventry, Clark failed to win another game in the Premier League and desperate moves such as changing tactics and dropping senior players didn’t work.

After a 4-2 loss at Anfield in December 1996, he left the club with them propping up the Premier League table. On his departure, he said: “I have just about run out of things to do so I’ve done the ultimate. Sometimes, a manager leaving a club can be a help.” Pearce took over as caretaker manager until the end of the season but couldn’t prevent them from sliding out of the top-flight in May 1997.

10 days later, Clark took over at First Division side Manchester City but couldn’t galvanise them and left in February 1998 with the club struggling to stay in the second-tier. That was to be his final job in management. He spent a decade as vice-chairman of the LMA (League Managers Association) but Nottingham Forest was always his club. In 2011, he took over as chairman after Nigel Doughty stood down and remained as a club ambassador after a takeover by Kuwaiti owners. That role ended in 2013.

Great Goals: Stan Collymore – BRADFORD CITY vs. Leeds United (October 2000)

Signing Stan Collymore in October 2000 was seen as the final throw of the dice for manager Chris Hutchings, who badly needed a result to save his position in the post. Bradford were bottom ahead of this Yorkshire Derby with Leeds United.

Collymore made an instant impact on his debut with this glorious goal. Leeds presented the opportunity to the home side with some sloppy passing. Benito Carbone picked out Collymore with a brilliant cross and the forward produced an instinctive overhead kick which was straight out of the top-draw.

His stay at Bradford was largely forgettable apart from this moment and although Leeds did recover to earn a share of the spoils on this Sunday afternoon, this remains one of Collymore’s finest Premier League efforts.

Memorable Matches: Nottingham Forest 3-2 Queens Park Rangers (October 1994)

Goalscorers: Kingsley Black 51, Les Ferdinand 54, Bryan Roy 63, Bradley Allen 84, Stan Collymore 88

Teams:

Nottingham Forest: Mark Crossley, Steve Chettle, Colin Cooper, Des Lyttle, Stuart Pearce, Kingsley Black, Lars Bohinen, David Phillips, Steve Stone, Stan Collymore, Bryan Roy

Queens Park Rangers: Tony Roberts, David Bardsley, Rufus Brevett, Danny Maddix, Alan McDonald (Bradley Allen 65), Steve Yates, Simon Barker, Ian Holloway, Andy Impey, Trevor Sinclair, Les Ferdinand

Referee: Kelvin Morton, Attendance: 21,449

This was Nottingham Forest’s first season in the top-flight under the guidance of Frank Clark. Clark was September’s Manager of the Month and they were still unbeaten before the visit of Queens Park Rangers and the Sky Sports Super Sunday cameras in October 1994. Forest knew a victory would take them second and right on the coattails of early pacesetters Newcastle United.

Queens Park Rangers boss Gerry Francis could welcome Danny Maddix back into the starting XI after a lengthy injury absence for the centre-back. They’d had never won at the City Ground before arriving on a rain-soaked afternoon. They would should their attacking potential in a game of two halves. Considering the talents on display, the first half was disappointing with both sides cancelling each other out. The game needed a moment of quality to spark into life and it arrived spectacularly after 51 minutes.

From the right-hand side, Kingsley Black cut inside and produced an exquisite curling shot that bent past Tony Roberts and into the back of the net. It was Black’s second goal of the season and it gave the home side the lead. It was an advantage that would last for just three minutes. Colin Cooper was caught in possession by Ian Holloway. Holloway played through Les Ferdinand and he made the most of Cooper’s error. The forward drove a shot underneath Mark Crossley. It was a cheap goal to concede but Ferdinand wasn’t complaining.

The pace of Roy and Stan Collymore was starting to cause problems for QPR’s defenders. Both were denied by excellent goalkeeping from Roberts. However, the Welshman was about to blot his copybook as Forest regained the lead on 63 minutes. He completely misjudged Lars Bohinen’s vicious corner and as he desperately tried to scramble something onto the ball, Roy stabbed the ball over the goal-line from practically two-yards out to put the hosts back infront.

Although Forest were creating the better chances, QPR’s excellent use of possession kept them right in the contest. Francis brought on Bradley Allen with devastating effect. Six minutes from full-time, he turned Des Lyttle and fired a beautiful low drive from the edge of the area that gave Crossley no chance.

It looked like the points would be shared but Collymore had other ideas. With Maddix tiring as the match went its course, Collymore exploited this weakness. He raced onto Lyttle’s clearing header, outsprinted Maddix and then produced a devastating finish past the onrushing Roberts to win this topsy-turvy clash for Nottingham Forest.

Forest stayed unbeaten until the end of October and finished an excellent third. Francis left Queens Park Rangers a month after this defeat due to disagreements with the board over the appointment of Rodney Marsh as a Director of Football. Nevertheless, they improved rapidly to finish eighth with Ray Wilkins in-charge.

The Managers: John Gregory

Premier League Clubs Managed: Aston Villa (1998-2002), Derby County (2002)

In 2015, it looked like John Gregory’s managerial career would be cut short when health reasons forced him to step down from his position at Crawley Town. Happily, Gregory has made a full recovery and is back in management over in India, currently as manager of Chennaiyin.

Recently, 20 years have passed since his appointment as Aston Villa manager where he took them to a title challenge tilt in his first full season and an FA Cup final appearance before an ill-fated spell at one of his playing clubs in Derby County that ended with Premier League relegation in 2002.

Playing in his teens

Gregory made his professional debut as a player at the age of just 18 in 1972. His first club was Northampton Town, scoring eight times in 187 league appearances before earning his big chance with Aston Villa in 1977.

It was a big step-up for John from his time with the Cobblers but he handled the pressure very well, even if his spell with the Villans was restricted to just two seasons. Gregory became the only player to play in every outfield position, wearing every number from 2 to 11 over his two seasons with the club, which remains a record.

After two years on the seaside with Brighton & Hove Albion, Gregory moved to Queens Park Rangers in 1981, enjoying the most successful period of his playing career at Loftus Road. In his first full season in west London, he was part of the team that reached the FA Cup final but experienced the agony of losing that final to Tottenham Hotspur. It was a pain that John would also experience as a manager a full 18 years later.

He helped QPR qualify for the UEFA Cup in 1984 but after Terry Venables left to accept the position as Barcelona manager, their form dipped and Gregory elected to move to Derby County in 1985.

Derby had been champions of England twice in the 1970s but by 1985, had dropped into the Third Division. With Gregory’s guile and experience, the Rams returned into the limelight with back-to-back promotions. After helping them survive their first campaign back in the top-flight, he announced his retirement as a player in 1988, although he did briefly come out of retirement two years later for very brief spells with Plymouth Argyle and Bolton Wanderers.

Cutting his apprenticeship

It would be six years between the end of Gregory’s playing career and his first steps into permanent management. His apprenticeship as a coach was during Brian Little’s days as manager with Leicester City and Aston Villa. He joined Little’s team in 1991 and followed him to Villa Park three years later.

In September 1996, he got the opportunity to go his own way with Wycombe Wanderers. At the time, it was one of the toughest jobs to make your mark. Wycombe were bottom of Division Two but he stabilised them and took them to a solid mid-table finish.

He had turned Wycombe into a play-off challenger in Division Two when Little resigned as Aston Villa manager in February 1998 after a 2-1 loss to Wimbledon left them floundering in 15th place in the table. Although big names were linked to the post, including Dutchman Ruud Gullit, Gregory was given the opportunity to return to Villa Park to revive their fortunes.

He revealed recently: “Villa had a group of players that should not be, under any circumstances, be worried about the threat of relegation.”

A wonderful honeymoon

His first match was a home game with Liverpool FC. Villa had lost five of their previous seven matches and Gregory had inherited a squad that he knew greatly from his days of being on Little’s coaching staff. The only exception was Stan Collymore and their relationship would be destructive.

It started well. Collymore put in an unstoppable performance against the club that had sold him the previous summer, scoring twice in Villa’s 2-1 victory. It was the high point of a very tempestuous relationship.

Collymore was involved in a highly-publicised bust-up with his girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson in the summer of 1998 and was never the same player after that. He struggled with depression and stress and it was something the manager struggled to help him with. He eventually loaned him out to Fulham and would release him in 2000 to join Leicester City.

Insults have been traded over the years but Gregory accepts mistakes were made on his behalf. He said: “It pains me to admit that I failed miserably in showing any kind of compassion to his long drawn out periods of depression. I still cannot understand how someone so young, fit, handsome and wealthy can suffer from such an illness.”

Aside from Collymore, the rest of the playing squad looked revitalised under his coaching. Villa rallied to seventh place at the end of the 1997-1998 campaign and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Despite selling Dwight Yorke to Manchester United, the momentum continued for the rest of the 1998 calendar year.

Aston Villa stayed unbeaten until mid-November and were top of the table on Christmas Day, losing just three times in the first half of the season. Going into 1999, Gregory’s team looked like a serious title challenger alongside Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal. It had been a wonderful honeymoon period but it wasn’t to last.

Second suffering at Wembley

The Villans form crumbled after an FA Cup exit in January 1999 to Fulham. They folded in the title race and didn’t even qualify for Europe, finishing sixth in the final 1998-1999 standings.

A run to the FA Cup final in 2000 was the highlight of John’s next two seasons at the helm, guiding them to the final-ever final before Wembley would be demolished and redeveloped. They met Chelsea but the occasion seemed to get to the better of the players on the day. Roberto Di Matteo’s scrappy second half winner saw Chelsea claim the cup and produced a second final suffering for Gregory after his pain as a player with Queens Park Rangers.

In 2001-2002, the club had a brief taste of top spot in the table again, hitting the summit at the end of October after a 3-2 success at home to Bolton Wanderers. However, only three wins in 13 games followed which dropped them to seventh and two-goal leads were blown in the Premier League away to Arsenal and in the FA Cup at home to Manchester United.

In late January 2002, Gregory walked away from Aston Villa and was immediately linked with the vacancy at his former playing club, Derby County.

A Derby disaster

His first game as Derby manager came less than 10 days after exiting Aston Villa and Lee Morris scored the only goal in a 1-0 success over Tottenham Hotspur.

An away victory at already doomed Leicester City followed and only a controversial disallowed goal stopped them beating Manchester United at Pride Park. Unfortunately, seven defeats from the Rams last eight fixtures saw their six-year stay in England’s top-flight come to an end.

Gregory stayed on but couldn’t buy any players due to financial restrictions and Derby struggled back in Division One. He was sacked in March 2003 for alleged misconduct and took the club to court for unfair dismissal.

The protracted legal action meant he was out of the game for three years but he was successful in his case, winning £1 million in compensation. Needless to say, his Derby spell was a disaster.

Since then, John has been globetrotting with spells as a manager in Kazakhstan and Israel along with stints at Queens Park Rangers and Crawley Town.

With Crawley struggling in the League One relegation zone in December 2014, Gregory stepped down with the club revealing he needed open heart surgery in January 2015. After a long period of recuperation, he made a full recovery and is currently in India, adding to his managerial CV.

Passive was not a word to use about John Gregory. He had a good reputation for working with difficult characters and getting the best out of them. He was good also with soundbites for the media. When Yorke left Villa for Manchester United in August 1998, he jokingly said in a media conference: “Dwight came into my office a couple of weeks ago and stated he wanted to play for Manchester United and he didn’t want to play for Aston Villa. If I’d had a gun at the time, I think I would have shot him!”

One thing he does know after his health scare is he knows the true meaning of life and it being more important than management.

The Managers: Jim Jefferies

Premier League Clubs Managed: Bradford City (2000-2001)

Scottish manager Jim Jefferies only had a brief stint in the Premier League with Bradford City. The majority of his career, both in playing and management was based in Scottish football and he enjoyed some success, especially in domestic cups.

In his playing days, Jim spent most of his time figuring for the Edinburgh giants Hearts. He didn’t win any honours as a player but did reach the Scottish Cup final with the Jambos in 1976. However it ended in a 3-1 defeat to Rangers. He left the club in 1981, having made 227 appearances, scoring five times. Jefferies ended his playing days in 1983 after two seasons with lowly Berwick Rangers.

Early steps in management

His first management breakthrough came in 1983 with amateur side Gala Fairydean. He spent five years there before returning to Berwick Rangers to begin his professional management career. They were struggling at the time of his arrival but he steered them to an impressive 21-match unbeaten run during the 1988-1989 season and this grabbed the attention of more profitable and successful sides.

Falkirk took a chance on him in 1990 and Jefferies continued to build on his solid reputation. He won the Scottish First Division title in 1991 and 1994, achieving Premier League football for them. There was also a 3-0 victory over St Mirren in the 1993 Scottish Challenge Cup final.

In August 1995, he left Falkirk to take over as manager of Hearts and three years later, achieved his biggest managerial honour as the Tynecastle side stunned favourites Rangers to win the Scottish Cup final of 1998.

In November 2000, the call came to try his luck in the Premier League.

The battle in Bradford

In November 2000, Bradford City were already staring relegation in the face. They had gambled on Paul Jewell’s former assistant Chris Hutchings but ditched him after a terrible start to the 2000-2001 campaign.

Jefferies was given the opportunity and he wasn’t going to turn it down. He had resigned from his position at Hearts two weeks earlier in an effort to push the move forward. On his appointment, he said: “I’m delighted to be getting the opportunity to manage in the Premier League. It doesn’t happen that often that you can come down here from Scotland. Bradford are everybody’s favourites to go down, but hopefully we’ll prove them wrong.”

He became the Bantams’ fifth manager in seven years and the job looked like a very difficult one from the outset. He had to trim the wage bill and that meant some of Bradford’s higher-profile players being sold. Benito Carbone and Dan Petrescu were among the casualties, whilst Stan Collymore was told he had no future at the club despite having arrived just three months later. He saw a move to VfB Stuttgart collapse due to his excessive wage demands.

Bradford ultimately went down, relegated by Everton in April 2001. Jefferies stayed on into the following campaign but resigned in December after a poor start to their season back in the First Division. It was a job that didn’t work out despite his best efforts.

Collymore was not as complimentary though. 12 years after his departure from Bradford, he admitted: “He was one of the most useless managers [he] worked under”

In total, he won just four of his 24 games in the Premier League, achieving a disappointing win ratio rate of 16.7%.

Back to his homeland

He returned to management in Scotland in February 2002, taking over at Kilmarnock and staying there for nearly eight years before leaving via mutual consent in 2010. He had a second spell at Hearts and then a two-year stint with Dunfermline Athletic which ended in December 2014 following a crippling financial crisis which saw the club suffer back-to-back relegations to the third tier of Scottish football.

Although he has no plans to go back into management, he returned to football in February 2017, joining League Two club Edinburgh City in a Sporting Director capacity.

Memorable Matches: Leicester City 5-2 Sunderland (March 2000)

Goalscorers: Stan Collymore 17, 60, 87, Emile Heskey 34, Kevin Phillips 53, Niall Quinn 75, Stefan Oakes 90

Teams:

Leicester City: Tim Flowers, Matt Elliott, Gerry Taggart, Frank Sinclair, Darren Eadie (Stefan Oakes 56), Steve Guppy, Neil Lennon, Robbie Savage, Muzzy Izzet, Stan Collymore, Emile Heskey

Sunderland: Thomas Sorensen, Paul Butler, Jody Craddock, Chris Makin, Eric Roy (John Oster 71), Alex Rae, Stefan Schwarz, Darren Holloway (Nicky Summerbee 45), Kevin Kilbane, Niall Quinn, Kevin Phillips

Referee: Neale Barry, Attendance: 20,432

Having joined Leicester City a month earlier after falling out of favour at Aston Villa, Stan Collymore was keen to show his doubters wrong. He had his chance infront of the Sky Sports cameras on his home debut at Filbert Street as the Foxes’ hosted Sunderland in an end-to-end contest that saw seven goals and a reminder of his class when he was at his absolute best.

Collymore had already been in trouble with new manager Martin O’Neill for an off-field incident in a hotel during a club training camp break in La Manga. This was his second match for the club and after 16 minutes, he produced a spectacular opening goal. His half-volley from a flick-on by his new strike partner Emile Heskey left Thomas Sorensen completely helpless.

It was always going to be an entertaining contest. Sunderland had impressed many on their return to the top-flight but had the poorest defensive record in the top 10 coming into the match and it was exposed again 10 minutes before half-time. Neil Lennon won possession in the heart of midfield and he played Heskey in. He took one touch and finished in-between Sorensen’s legs.

Peter Reid was not happy with his team’s performance and withdrew Darren Holloway at half-time, replacing him with Nicky Summerbee. They did come close to reducing the deficit when Leicester defender Matt Elliott’s clearance at the near post hit his own crossbar. It was a warning sign to the Foxes but it wasn’t adhered to. Kevin Phillips’ half-volley from the edge of the penalty area on 53 minutes reduced the arrears. It was the 100th goal of his league career and 24th of an amazing individual season that saw him clinch the Golden Boot at the end of the campaign.

Leicester restored their two-goal lead on the hour mark. Lennon chalked up his second assist of the match. His beautiful cross was met by Collymore who directed the ball into the top corner of Sorensen’s net. One thing Reid had installed in Sunderland’s armoury was the ability to respond clinically and he had one of the best strike partnerships in the country at the time in Phillips and Niall Quinn. The Republic of Ireland forward joined Philips on the scoresheet with 15 minutes left. His curling strike would set-up a grandstand finish.

The day though would belong to Collymore. He completed his hat-trick with a striker’s tap-in. The finish was slightly scuffed but he wouldn’t be complaining about that and nor were the Leicester supporters. With time running out, substitute Stefan Oakes added a fifth to ensure the Black Cats’ conceded five on their travels for the second time this season, having shipped five at Everton on Boxing Day.

The sides would finish seventh and eighth at the end of the season. This day though belonged to Leicester and to the maverick that was Stan Collymore.

Premier League Rewind: 4th-5th March 2000

Results: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool FC, Derby County 4-0 Wimbledon, Everton 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle United 0-1 Chelsea, Southampton 1-1 Middlesbrough, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Bradford City, Watford 1-2 West Ham United, Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal, Leeds United 3-0 Coventry City, Leicester City 5-2 Sunderland

Manchester United were the favourites to retain their Premier League title in the early weeks of March 2000 but they were still under pressure from David O’Leary’s energised and exciting Leeds United side. Weeks earlier, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team had opened up a five-point lead with a game in hand after winning at Elland Road. However, dropped points away at Wimbledon had seen Leeds stay in striking touch and that would continue on the weekend of 4th-5th March.

The Red Devils’ were first in action for the weekend with a lunchtime kick-off against bitter rivals Liverpool FC. Gerard Houllier had insisted in the build-up to this match that his side were ready to inflict defeat on their great enemy. They came very close to achieving his prediction. Patrik Berger scored a spectacular free-kick to give the visitors’ the lead. United’s equaliser was controversial. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went unpunished for a high challenge on Sami Hyypia. Whilst the Finn was off receiving treatment, Solskjaer scored the equaliser in stoppage-time at the end of the first half. Only some wasteful finishing by Liverpool FC forwards Titi Camara, Erik Meijer and the returning Michael Owen ensured this encounter would finish all-square.

So, Leeds had the chance to close the gap to four points by the end of the weekend. They achieved this 24 hours’ later with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Coventry City who were still winless away from Highfield Road. The impressive Harry Kewell opened the scoring in the season where he was crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year and Michael Bridges added another two to his growing tally in his only injury-free season in Yorkshire.

Third-place Arsenal were unable to cash in on Manchester United’s dropped points at home as they held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa on the same Sunday afternoon. In fact, it looked like they were heading for defeat at Villa Park for the third successive campaign before a rare goal from Lee Dixon in the 84th minute rescued a point.

So Chelsea finished the weekend in third spot and therefore in the final qualification spot for next season’s UEFA Champions League. Gus Poyet scored the solitary goal in a 1-0 away win at Newcastle United. Newcastle would be sick of the sight of the Uruguayan by the season’s end. A month later, it was his double that beat the Magpies’ in the FA Cup semi-finals.

A month earlier, Leicester City had taken a gamble to sign Stan Collymore. Collymore’s time at Aston Villa had not been good. He had spectacularly fallen out with John Gregory, been treated for depression and attracted unsavoury off-the-field headlines. Days before the club’s televised Super Sunday match with Sunderland; reports emerged of an incident at a hotel in La Manga where Collymore had let off a fire extinguisher during a training camp. The team was kicked out of the resort they had been staying in and the forward was fined two weeks’ wages. Manager Martin O’Neill was unimpressed, saying: “I think it is a warning to Stan. This, in footballing parlance, is a yellow card.”

Collymore responded in the best possible fashion, scoring a brilliant hat-trick in Leicester’s 5-2 victory over the Black Cats’ – his finest display in the Premier League for several seasons. The match also saw Emile Heskey score his final goal for the club. He would be transferred weeks later to Liverpool FC for over £11 million.

The status at the bottom of the table remained unchanged but the plight of Wimbledon was becoming evident. A week after the club’s charismatic guvnor Sam Hamann had left the club, the Dons looked lost away at Derby County. They completely caved in during the last 25 minutes at Pride Park, losing 4-0 and showing a lack of urgency that would signal all was not good between manager Egil Olsen and his players. Wimbledon ended the weekend in 16th and just three points clear of the drop zone. Those spots were occupied by Bradford City, Sheffield Wednesday and Watford.

What else happened in March 2000?

  • Vladimir Putin is elected as the new President of Russia.
  • The PlayStation 2 is released in Japan. Several months later, it becomes the best-selling games console of all-time.
  • There is a change in the official currency of Ecuador with the US dollar replacing the Ecuadorian Sucre.
  • Channel 5 wins the rights to screen Home and Away in the UK, meaning its affiliation with ITV ends. ITV had broadcasted the Aussie soap since 1989.
  • 9-2 shot Looks Like Trouble wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup, ridden by Richard Johnson.
  • Macy Gray, Travis and Robbie Williams are the big winners at the BRITS, winning two awards each.