The Week in Football #13

by Joe Mewis

Tales from all across the world this week as we take in far-eastern betting scams, Brazilian kidnappings, Soviet trail-blazers and a drunk German in this week’s football history round-up.

November 2

If things look bleak for Hull City at the moment, they could be worse. Today in 1998 Tigers’ chairman, the former tennis player and gym magnate, David Lloyd sold the club after failing to deliver on his promises of a new stadium, big-name manager and general happy days. The club went into a nosedive soon after, seeing the Boothferry Park gates locked, until a certain Adam Pearson took over in 2001. You’ll have forgiven Alf-Inge Haaland for taking a nervous look over his shoulder today in 2002, as Roy Keane’s five-match ban for the comments in his over that challenge in his autobiography ended. “I’d waited long enough,” went the offending passage. “I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***. And don’t ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.”

November 3

Brian Kidd proved one of the old football adages, in that a good number two doesn’t necessarily make for a good number one, was true today in 1999 when he was given the boot from the Blackburn Rovers top job after a disappointing start to the season. Today in 1997 Crystal Palace were coasting to a routine win over West Ham under the floodlights at the Boleyn Ground as Neil Shipperley put the Eagles 2-0 up with 25 minutes left to play. Suddenly without warning the whole ground was plunged into darkness as the floodlights failed. Had the Hammers not been paying their bills? Had ‘Arry Redknapp (allegedly) upset the authorities? Nope, it was a far-eastern betting syndicate that saw three men sent to prison after the police rumbled them. The game was replayed, with the Irons emerging 4-1 winners.

November 4

Pep Guardiola has the world at his feet these days. After a season in the dugout he’s won pretty much everything there is to win and he makes even more women swoon than Jose Mourinho. It was a different story today in 2001 though as the Spanish midfielder failed a drugs test whilst at Brescia. Pep protested his innocence, but received a four month ban and eventually cleared his name in October 2007. Dynamo Moscow touched down in England today in 1945 to bring some much needed excitement to the war-torn country, as they brought their unseen football prowess to an unsuspecting British public. A 3-3 draw with Chelsea was followed by a 10-0 win over Cardiff, a 4-3 victory at Highbury over Arsenal and a 2-2 draw with Rangers at Ibrox. Not bad for a team that Fleet Street’s self-absorbed finest described as a ‘bunch of factory workers.’

November 5

Remember, remember… the day Huddersfield appointed Bill Shankly. Today in 1956 the Terriers handed the reigns to a young Shanks who began to forge one of the greatest-ever managerial careers. Another former Town boss was making headlines today in 1932 when the trail-blazing Herbert Chapman, by then boss of Arsenal, convinced the London Underground to change the name of the Gillespie Road Underground Station to Arsenal as he performed a rebranding exercise on the club that would put today’s marketing execs to shame.

November 6

In the history of good decisions, this one was a belter. You have to tip your hat to the big cheeses at Old Trafford because it was on this day in 1986 that Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed Manchester United manager. The rest, as they say, is history. Less encouraging times for current Manchester City forward Robinho today in 2004, as his the young Santos starlet’s mother was kidnapped and held ransom by Brazilian bandits. After 41 days Robinho coughed up $75,000 and his mum was returned, with police later arresting four men in connection with the crime.

November 7

Never a stranger to controversy, former Soviet sub-marine commander Vladimir Romanov was raising more eyebrows today in 2005 when the Hearts chairman appointed Graham Rix as the Edinburgh side’s manager. Rix was a convicted sex offender, having served 12 months in prison in 1999. Outrage followed, and so did the sack five months later amid infighting and player rebellion. Last week’s north London derby was another routine win for Arsene Wenger’s men, much as it usually is. In fact, the last time that Spurs downed the Gunners in the league was today in 1999, when they held on to a 2-1 win, despite the best efforts of a nine-man Arsenal team after Freddie Ljungberg and Martin Keown were sent off.

November 8

The Manchester City side of the mid-‘90s was about as chaotic as a football club can get, as the Maine Road club got through as many managers as their cross-town rivals did trophies. Today in 1996 it was the turn of Steve Coppell to quit the club, 33 days after taking charge. The former United playmaker lasted for only six games, before leaving the club, citing stress and becoming City’s shortest-ever serving gaffer. The Citizens managed to get through another two managers before the season was out. We’ll leave you this week with a cracking story from Germany. Today in 1975 referee Wolf-Dieter Ahlenfelder turned up to take charge of Werder Bremen’s match with Hannover 96 a little worse for wear. Having had a few too many pre-match shandies, the man in black staggered around the pitch and blew for half-time after 29 minutes. His linesman had a quiet word and the final 16 minutes of the first-half were played, giving him a chance to sober up at the interval. The game finished 0-0 and Ahlenfelder later stated: ‘We are men – we don’t drink Fanta.’

For more on these stories and hundreds of others, check out the On This Football Day website by clicking here or click here to buy the OTFD books.

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