Dodgy goings on in France, Manchester and Liverpool derbies, referees hitting the deck and a staple from the Christmas bloopers DVD market in our regular round-up what went down this week in football history.
A habit was born for England today in 1949, when they lost to a team from outside the UK for the first time, when the Republic of Ireland beat the Three Lions 3-0 at Goodison Park. To confuse matters England had lost to a united Ireland before, but this landmark defeat came after the Emerald Isle had been divided and the Republic was classified as a team from outside the UK. In 2003 Manchester United and Arsenal were having one of their typically rambunctious clashes, with Martin Keown making the headlines when he took great delight in Ruud van Nistelrooy’s injury time penalty miss, shoving the Dutchman and generally getting all in his grill as the two rivals drew 0-0.
Then-European champions Marseille were stripped of their Ligue Un title today in 1993, when it emerged that their flamboyant president Bernard Tapie had indulged in a spot of match-fixing earlier that year. As Marseille prepared for their European Cup final against AC Milan, Tapie had been in cahoots with upcoming opponents Valenciennes to ensure they would have an easy win and not have any of their players injured. Meanwhile, back in 1984 QPR played one of the most exciting ever games on their short-lived plastic pitch, coming back from a 4-0 half-time deficit against Newcastle to draw 5-5. Toon boss Jack Charlton was livid: ‘I have never seen anything like it in my 32 years in the game. I went mad at the players because there were times when they were going to give me a heart attack. They just stopped playing.”
After this weekend’s pulsating Manchester derby Sir Alex Ferguson may have looked like the cat that got the cream, but today in 1989 he certainly wasn’t smiling, as City dismantled United 5-1 at Maine Road. The result left Fergie on the brink in the United hotseat, but an FA Cup win that season convinced his bosses to leave him be. Three years earlier Fergie’s biggest nemesis Liverpool were going goal crazy, as they put 10 past a very pre-Mohammed Al Fayed Fulham side in the League Cup.
One of the most famous stadiums in the world opened it’s turnstiles today in 1957 as Barcelona moved into their new digs at Camp Nou. Although for British football fans,it is immediately synonymous with ITV commentating fool Clyde Tyldesley forever banging on about ‘that night in Barcelona’, the stadium has seen some of the greatest ever players score some of the greatest ever goals on its hallowed turf. Today in 2007 the Arsenal moneymen were patting themselves on the backs, when they announced a British record turnover of more than £200m, putting them ahead of Manchester United and only just behind Real Madrid, largely as a result of increased revenue from their new stadium. So why’s Arsene not been giving the keys to piggy bank yet? Answers on a postcard…
Ian Wright’s rags-to-riches story entered a new phase today in 1991 when the former non-league hot-shot made his Arsenal debut after his £2.5m move from Crystal Palace, scoring the only goal in the Gunners’ 1-1 draw with Leicester at Filbert Street. One of the Premier Leagues’s all-time great bloopers occurred today in 1999 when Manchester United’s new £4.4m goalkeeper Massimo Taibi let a speculative 25-yard Matt Le Tissier effort squirm beneath him. The tabloid press soon dubbed him ‘the Blind Venetian’ and after a 5-0 loss to Chelsea he was never seen again in a United Shirt.
Paolo di Canio tread where thousands of players didn’t dare today in 1998 when he shoved over referee Paul Alcock in Sheffield Wednesday’s clash with Arsenal. Alcock hit the deck after a comedy stumble and the Italian hot-head was handed an 11-month ban for his troubles. One of the most ill-advised financial transactions in Premier League history occurred today in 2001, when Leeds United chairman Peter Ridsdale took out a loan of £60m, as they looked to ‘live the dream’ and deliver regular Champions League football to the Elland Road faithful. When the money was spent on the likes of Seth Johnson and goldfish for the boardroom, the team failed to match their 2000/01 Champions League semi-final run and began the biggest financial meltdown in English football history.
Current Rangers boss Walter Smith didn’t take the Premier League by storm when he was in charge of Everton, but he’ll look back at today’s events from 1999 fondly, when he led his charges to a 2-0 derby win over Liverpool in a typically bad tempered clahs that saw Franny Jeffers, Sander Westerveld and a young Steve Gerrard all sent off. Former Nottingham Forest and Ipswich midfielder David Johnson was doing his best impression of the Littlest Hobo today in 1999 when he was called up to the Wales squad – the third national squad he had been involved with. After having played in a few friendlies for Jamaica, where Johnson was born, he turned out for the England B team in 1998, before Mark Hughes gave him a call. He didn’t feature for Wales and then incredibly turned in the Scotland squad a month later, before deciding to return to his roots in Jamaica. Make your mind up Dave!