Archive for August, 2007

August 31 – Once a Blue, Always a Red

Amongst the sound of fax machines going mad and dodgy agents blabbering on the phone, the transfer window slams shut today. Big deals are always in the offing and today in 2004 was no different, as a certain English starlet became one of the most hated men in Merseyside.

The boy-wonder Wayne Rooney, who had once whipped off his Everton shirt to unveil a t-shirt that declared he was ‘Once a Blue, Always a Blue’, today in 2004 became a Red, as he signed for Manchester United for £30m and became a hate figure for the whole of Merseyside.

Two months earlier, an 18-year old Rooney had exploded onto the international scene with a string of scintillating performance at Euro 2004. This alerted a number of clubs around Europe, with Manchester United and Newcastle leading the pack. But like Coleen in her favourite shoe shop, it was the Red Devil’s who splashed the cash, making Rooney the second most expensive English player after his new team-mate Rio Ferdinand.

The transfer was conducted despite Rooney carrying one of those pesky broken metatarsals that he picked up during England’s defeat to Portugal, meaning he was unable to make his debut until September 28. When debut-day came though, Rooney scored as quickly as he did in those all those tabloid rumours, bagging a hat-trick as United romped home 6-2 against Fenerbahçe in the Champions League.

Since then Rooney has gone on to pick up his first domestic honours in the shape of a League Cup win and Premiership title for United, but much to the delight of both the red and blue sides of Merseyside has developed a habit of breaking bones in his feet in the process.

See Rooney bursting onto the scene, complete with some typically hyper-active Clive Tyldesley commentary and come back tomorrow to find out what footballing addiction will literally ruin your life if you let it.

August 30 – Andrew Cole Was A Merry Old Soul

WHEN Alan Shearer announced he was retiring from international football after Euro 2000 England fans wondered what they would do without him. He was after all captain of the team and the most prolific striker of his generation.

When Andy, sorry Andrew, Cole announced his retirement from the international game in 2002 it raised a chuckle from many England supporters. Cole had not been selected for the 2002 World Cup and had not been involved with the England team for some time. Indeed, when he had been involved perhaps the most damning thing you could say about him is that his scoring record for the national team is worse than Emile Heskey’s – played 15, scored one.

Far from Cole announcing his own retirement from the international game, Sven-Goran Eriksson had effectively ended his England career sometime earlier. Cole’s announcement had the feeling of a jilted lover saying, “Well you can’t dump me, because I am dumping you!”

Cole’s England career was in stark contrast to his club achievements where he is second only to Shearer in the Premiership scoring charts, and he won every major club honour in the game (League, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League), as well as being named PFA Young Player of the Year in 1994.

All this from the man Glenn Hoddle said needed five chances to score a goal. How sweet it must have been for Cole to score the winner in the 2002 League Cup final against Hoddle’s Tottenham side. Ah well, it certainly wasn’t the only time Hoddle came out with something he would later regret.

Despite spells at Arsenal, Bristol City, Fulham, Blackburn, Manchester City, Portsmouth, Birmingham and now Sunderland, Cole’s best years were at Newcastle, where he cemented his place as a top class Premiership striker, and Manchester United, where he formed the most lethal strike partnership of the decade with Dwight Yorke.

It was on this day in 1999 that Cole made Newcastle rue the day they sold him when he scored four, and set up the fifth in United’s 5-1 demolition of the Magpies at old Trafford.

Newcastle were in disarray after the sacking of Ruud Gullit, and caretaker manager Steve Clarke was not helped when Nic ‘The Greek’ Dabizas got himself sent off for arguing with the referee.

United meanwhile were basking in the glow of the unprecedented treble they had achieved the previous season, and with Cole and Yorke up front, were on their way to another league title.

Here’s a little compilation of Cole’s scoring exploits, and come back tomorrow to find out who was going from hero to zero on Merseyside. And no, it’s not Boris Johnson.

August 29 – Becks Runs the Gauntlet at West Ham

We’re a fickle bunch, us football supporters. One minute we’ll be hero-worshipping our favourite player, the next we’ll be hanging an effigy of them. It’s hard to believe now but in 1998 David Beckham was the source of the nation’s vitriol following his sending off against Argentina in the World Cup. On this day in 1998 that Becks had to face the music as his Manchester United side faced West Ham in his first away game since he saw the red mist in Saint-Étienne.

Most England fans were quick to blame Beckham for England’s exit in the World Cup. Referee Kim Milton Nielsen flashed the red card after Beckham had petulantly kicked out at Argentine midfielder Diego Simeone. A dramatic tumble to the floor from Simeone saw England reduced to ten men and lose out on penalties, despite a young Michael Owen scoring one of the best goals ever seen in a England shirt.

The tabloid press made their feelings known, with the Daily Mirror printing a dartboard with Beckham’s face in the middle. Death threats followed, as did the afore mentioned effigy’s outside an East End pub before West Ham took on Manchester United. The Red Devil’s team coach was welcomed with a shower of stones and bottles as around 500 West Ham fans made their feelings about Beckham’s role in the World Cup exit clear.

And things didn’t get much better on the pitch for Beckham, as his every touch of the ball was roundly booed. The match finished in a nil-nil draw, but it would prove to be a landmark season for the Red Devil’s as they went on to secure an unprecedented treble.

Beckham then got on with one of the most extraordinary transformations seen in recent times, as two years later he would take over the mantle of England captain and redeem himself in the hearts of England fans as he lead the way in their 5-1 demolition of the Germans and score that memorable free kick against Greece that booked England’s place in the 2002 World Cup. See below for footage of his red card and come back tomorrow to look at one of the Premiership’s sharpest shooters returning to haunt his former employers.

August 28 – Fowler Gets His Hat-trick On

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ROBBIE FOWLER. Scouser, joker, property magnate, race horse owner, footballer, goalscorer, award winning poet. Well ok, not the last one – not yet anyway – but goalscorer certainly, and it was on this day in 1994 that Fowler scored the fastest ever Premiership hat-trick for Liverpool against Arsenal.

It took the young front man just four minutes and thirty-three seconds to complete the feat – a record which still stands today, and one which we thought was worth commemorating by getting our illustrator Tom Plant to work his magic with Robbie’s image (above).

Frequently hailed as the best finisher of his generation by pundits who couldn’t think of anything original to say about him, Fowler did have a sense of humour. Following allegations about drug abuse from Everton fans, Robbie celebrated his goal against the Toffeemen by miming snorting cocaine along the white line of the penalty area. Not everyone was laughing though, and the FA fined Robbie £60,000 for bringing the game into disrepute. Spoil sports. I bet multi-millionaire Robbie was really gutted about that punishment.

Still, bulging the back of the old onion bag is what Robbie’s game is all about so witness the record breaking hat-trick below. And don’t forget to pop back tomorrow to see which player was more unpopular with the nation than Jade Goody after Celebrity Big Brother.

August 27 – Dalglish Sacked by Newcastle

It didn’t take long for a winner to emerge in the sack race in the 1998/99 Premeirship season. Never a club that can be accused of being run with an abundance of common sense, Newcastle sacked manager Kenny Dalglish on this day in 1998, only two games into the season.

Dalglish was persuaded to take over the mantle at St James’ when Kevin Keegan left and took over at Fulham in January 1997.

Dalglish had replaced Keegan once before as he inherited the Liverpool number 7 shirt after Keegan’s move to Hamburg. Newcastle fans had a reason to be optimistic as they were bringing in a man who had picked up the league title for two different clubs, a feat matched only by managerial legends Brian Clough and Herbert Chapman.

However, Dalglish was to find the managerial lark not as easy as in his new job, as he didn’t inherit the star-studded squad from Liverpool or have Jack Walker’s millions to spend like he did at Blackburn. His first season saw a promising second place finish which bought Champions League football to the Toon. Despite success in reaching the final of the FA Cup, the wheels came off the next season as Newcastle dropped to thirteenth place and Dalglish’s position was under threat.

After two games Freddy Shepard had had enough and gave Kenny the boot. Here he was to embark on his final managment appointment, which was to be a disasterous spell in charge of Celtic that started with him employing John Barnes as Head Coach and ended in the courts of Edinburgh, where he received a £600,000 settlement for his dismissal.

Rather than show King Kenny toiling on the sideline, we thought it’d be nicer to show you some of the goals and tricks that lead to Liverpool fans voting him their favourite ever Red. Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk you through a quick-fire scoring session from a cheeky scouser.

August 26 – Reidy Sacked by City

AS everyone’s favourite dour scouser came home today in 1993 his wife no doubt broke into a chorus of “Cheer Up Peter Reid”, as her man had just been sacked as Manchester City manager after three years in charge at Maine Road.

It had started so well when Reid was appointed as City’s first ever player-manager in November 1990 as he filled the void left by Howard Kendall’s resignation admirably. A fifth-place finish saw the Citizen’s finish above their Mancunian rivals United for the first time in 13 years, as Reid missed out on European qualification by one place.

By time he reached his third season the tide began to change. Supporters were starting to tire of his traditional up-and-at-em tactics that usually involved an industrious defence and midfield that would hoof the ball to Niall Quinn upfront who would score or feed his pacy fellow strike-partner David White. Reidy’s relations with his board started to fray as he was not given much room to manoeuvre in the transfer market, bringing in only Dutch midfielder Alfons Groenendijk for £25,000. This lead to a lackluster start in the 1993/94 season, with Reid getting the boot after the first four games of the campaign only wielded only one point. And we all know how bad things got things got for City after that, as they were to plunge down to third flight by 1998.

Reid however, was straight back to work as he put back on his boots and turned out as a player for Southampton, Notts County and Bury, before giving the management game another stab at Sunderland. Here he was to repeat the Niall Quinn trick, this time with Kevin Phillips supporting, as he guided the Mackems to the dizzy heights of seventh in the Premier League.

See below for a clip of a Reid doing what he does best – shouting at someone, and join us tomorrow for more managerial shenaningans.

August 25 – Juninho Signs for Celtic

Those Brazilians pop up everywhere. We’ve had legends like Romario and Ronaldo tearing up the major leagues across Europe and even World Cup legend Socrates somewhat randomly turning out for lowly Garforth Town in 2004. Today in 2004 though, another silky samba star found himself in an unlikely location, as Juninho signed for Celtic.

Osvaldo Giroldo Júnior as his mother called him had become a cult hero at Middlesbrough, which is no surprise when you consider that they used to get excited about Robbie Mustoe and the like. The Brazilian’s arrival saw fans treated to a bit of latin flair unlike anything previously seen in Teeside. However, despite the little man’s skill, the Silver Fox Ravanelli’s goals and fellow Brazilian Emerson’s grit in midfield they were to be relegated at the end of the 1996/97 season. One of the enduring images of his time at the club is of a tear-eyed Juninho sobbing on the Elland Road pitch after the 1-1 draw with Leeds that condemned Boro to the drop.

Not fancying trips to Swindon or Stockport, Juninho left the club, but like a moth to a flame he was to twice return to the Riverside in 1999 and 2002. Pending any future panic-buying from Boro, his move to Celtic proved to be the final farewell. And Juninho didn’t waste any time when he arrived north of the border, as he turned in a man-of-the-match performance against Old Firm rivals Rangers in a 1-0 victory for the Buoys. Despite this blockbusting start, Juninho never really settled in at Celtic Park, as Martin O’Neill never looked sure what to do with a player with his ability, as his teams have never been blessed with an abundance of skillful players.

After a mere 14 appearances Juninho had decided he’d had enough and returned to the slightly more pleasant climbs of his homeland and signed for Palmeiras. Here he obviously remembered he liked the sunshine, and he has recently signed for Sydney FC, following in the footsteps of fellow former Premiership stars Benito Carbone and Dwight Yorke for one last hurrah in the sun. See below to see the diminutive Brazilian in action and join us tomorrow for some managerial merry-go-round action.

August 24 – Greavsie Scores on Chelsea Debut

Sven-Goran Eriksson’s decision to take Theo Walcott to the World Cup last summer was widely criticised, not least because he admitted he had never actually seen the youngster play.

Walcott’s inclusion was however indicative of the paucity of strikers available to England, a position which they have never struggled to fill in the past. Indeed, such were the riches available to Sir Alf Ramsey he was able to leave today’s subject on the bench and still win the world cup.

On this day exactly half a century ago in 1957 lethal front-man Jimmy Greaves made his debut as a tender 17 year-old for Chelsea, getting on the score sheet in the process against Tottenham – the club he was to serve with such distinction some years later.

Greavsie went on to play for AC Milan, Spurs and West Ham, scoring on his debut for each club, as well as his under-21 and full England debuts.

Jimmy was a goal-scoring machine and still holds many records for both club and country. In 604 club games he netted an incredible 422 goals.

Perhaps even more impressive is Jimmy’s record for England which reads played 57, scored 44, meaning he is still the third highest England scorer behind Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker. He also scored six hattricks for England which is also still a record.

It was while playing for the Three Lions in the 1962 World Cup in Chile that one of the more bizarre episodes in Greavsie’s career occurred. During the match with Brazil a stray dog ran on to the pitch and managed to evade all the efforts of the players to catch the animal until Jimmy got down on all fours and coaxed the dog towards him. Once close enough he grabbed it and handed it to a steward, but not before the dog had time to leave a parting gift and urinated all over Greavsie.

Jimmy was not amused but Brazillian legend Garrincha thought the incident was so funny he decided to keep the dog as a pet. He did stop laughing in time to score twice to beat England 3-1 and then go on and win the World Cup though.

Here’s Greavsie himself recreating the incident with comedy football jokers Baddiel and Skinner:

August 23 – The Iron Elbow

“WHAT do you have to do to get a red, kill someone?”

So pondered Pompey’s favourite cockney ‘Arry Redknapp after Man City’s Ben Thatcher had laid down his challenge to Maggie for the title of ‘hardest Thatcher’ by elbowing Pedro Mendes in the face, leaving the midfielder out cold and in need of oxygen and hospital treatment.

It was on this day in 2006 that Wales defender Thatcher and Portsmouth midfielder Mendes were both chasing down the ball during the league game between City and Pompey at Eastlands when Thatcher raised his arm and seemed to deliberately catch Mendes full in the face with his elbow.

Mendes hit the advertising hoardings and was lying unconscious by the side of the pitch. Thatcher walked away but Mendes’ team mate Glen Johnson immediately saw he was in a bad way and called for help.

After receiving oxygen he apparently suffered a seizure on his way to hospital where he spent the night before being released.

To Redknapp’s disgust Thatcher was only given a yellow card by the referee but the FA considered the incident to be a ‘special case’ and banned Thatcher for eight matches with a fifteen game suspended ban for two years. Man City also banned the player for six games and fined him six weeks’ wages.

Despite walking away from the unconscious Mendes at the time, Thatcher showed that sorry isn’t always the hardest word. “Immediately after the game I tried to find out how Pedro was,” he said afterwards. “I have written to him today apologising for what happened.”

Take a look at the challenge for yourself below, and take two minutes to pop back tomorrow to find out which famous striker was making his debut half a century ago.

August 22 – MotD Hits The Screens

AS the new season has now kicked off BBC One is no longer forced to find some tired old B movie to show at 10.30 on a Saturday night, as the rightful owner of that spot on the schedule is back in town.

That grand old institution Match of the Day is back, and it was on this day in 1964 that the programme was broadcast for the first time.

The first airing of MotD was at 6.30pm on BBC Two and showed highlights of the First Division clash between Liverpool and Arsenal, with Liverpool winning 3-2.

Kenneth Wolstenholme was the commentator and he opened the programme with the words: “Welcome to Match of the Day, the first of a weekly series on BBC Two. This afternoon we are in Beatleville…”

At the time BBC Two was only available in London so the audience for the first ever episode of MotD was about 20,000, about half the number of fans who were actually at the game at Anfield.

Audiences soon increased and by the 1966/67 season, the popularity of the world cup saw the programme move to BBC One and hit the five million viewer mark.

Over the years the programme has had many pundits and commentators, but there have only been a few long serving presenters. As well as Wolstenholme, David Coleman, Jimmy Hill, Des Lynam and now Gary Lineker have all sat in the anchorman’s hot seat.

Despite facing some tough challenges such as losing the Premiership highlights rights to ITV in 2001, the programme survived on a stripped down diet of FA Cup and international matches, which just managed to keep it going until it regained the highlights package in 2004.

Now supplemented by the excellent Match of the Day 2 hosted by the famous Baggies fan who isn’t Frank Skinner: Adrian Chiles; MotD continues to provide fans up and down the country with free football coverage, as well as the chance to try and spot yourself in the crowd by taping the show and pausing every time there is a shot of the stand you were in.

And now, over to Jimmy: