It's Up For Grabs Now
Monday, August 30, 2004
30/8/98 : Michael Owen didn't always take one touch too many and scuff his shot when one on one, you know. On this day he scored a 15 minute hat-trick at Newcastle in a 4-1 win, comprehensively ruining Ruud Gullit's grand arrival.
Now Bobby Robson's out of a managerial job, will there be any adverts left to show on television?
Sunday, August 29, 2004
We've got a few days behind, haven't we? So...
27/8/98 and 28/8/99 : On the former Kenny Dalglish left Newcastle to be immediately replaced by Ruud Gullit; on the latter Gullit was disposed of, as previously mentioned. How's your luck, Sir Bobby?
28/9/94 : We couldn't stick with such symmetry alone for the 28th, of course - kids, you'll have to believe us when we say Robbie Fowler was more than a utility striker who'd chip in with ten goals a season or so. In 1994-95 he got 25, three in four and a half minutes against Arsenal on this day.
29/8/93 : Newcastle again, and indeed Shearer again, given the parallels between yesterday's defeat and Gullit's last at the club. This time he was at Blackburn and scoring an equaliser on his first game back from cruciate ligament damage that had kept him out for the year up until then.
Patrick Berger? Alan Smith? In Holland we doubt there's such a debate - Ajax's Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the goal of the season on its opening day.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
26/8/93 : Kevin Keegan may be coming under increasing pressure at Man City, but at least he's still in his job - Peter Reid was sacked from the job on this day after one point from four games, which must give Paul Sturrock even more pause for thought.
Things people who know better would never do - swim in the North Sea.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
25/8/99 : Ruud Gullit seals his fate as he leaves Alan Shearer on the bench, a decision he will still defend to this day on supposed tactical grounds, and watches Kevin Phillips score twice as Sunderland win 2-1 in a downpour at St James' Park. Gullit was sacked on the 28th.
You may well have heard about the Yeovil/Plymouth sportsmanship, and it's certainly happened before - we recall Football Focus featuring a reserve game at Millwall, and we've got much the same happening in a South American league game somewhere on video - but to us this underlines a universal truth, as
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
When was the last time you heard of a transfer fee tribunal? Thought dead in this post-Bosman age, they return with a vengeance - far be it from us to suggest Nottingham Forest might be slightly annoyed with their verdict on Gareth Williams' move to Leicester, but they turned down an offer of £750,000, only for Leicester to be ordered to pay £500,000
24/8/97 : You kids might be surprised to learn there was a time when Chelsea could win by any score they fancied rather than a cagey 1-0. 6-0, for example, which they hammered Barnsley by at Oakwell, Gianluca Vialli becoming the fourth of twelve players to score four or more goals in one Premiership match.
Here's a reversal of normal procedure - a free-scoring Scotsman in Norway?
Monday, August 23, 2004
23/8/03 : All conspiracy theories about one rule for Man Utd and one for everyone else evaporate briefly as Sir Alex Ferguson is banished to the St James Park stands for complaining to fourth official Jeff Winter about Andy O'Brien getting away with kicking Ryan Giggs into the air. Ferguson was banned for two games, but Man Utd won 2-1 anyway, which perhaps suggests something about the effect of Ferguson's shouting from the touchline.
"Our club is run by the board and not by the media". Consistency there, Rupert Lowe. We take it James Beattie's off before the weekend, then.
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Some other stories you may have missed this week:
* West Brom players will have to each nominate their captain for the next game, apparently an extension of the old 'you need eleven captains on the pitch' maxim, and also ensuring they'll never bid for Kieron Dyer
* Serbia & Montenegro's Olympic team take one penalty six times, while a few days later Rob Styles makes no contentious decisions or books anyone. Coincidence?
* Man Utd's Champions League qualifying opponents Dinamo Bucharest go on, and then call off, strike over training conditions. All of them had had only eight days off? What are pre-season tournaments like in Bucharest?
* Queen's Park's manager resigns after fighting with a player and another player's father on the touchline. Graeme Souness is unlikely to be considered as his replacement.
22/8/99 : from here it was but a short step to Cup final Junior Motty, as Sky Sports Interactive launched in time to see Manchester United come from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 at Highbury, Roy Keane scoring both. As with many Sky Sports interactive innovations (have you seen their text service?) the excitement did pall when you realised the options were a page of stats, permanent camera angles from above each goal, the useless PlayerCam (it's too small!) and an audio accompaniment of some men shouting, but it felt like the future sure enough.
Surely the Welsh are the last international side who should tempt fate by putting a World Cup anthem out to tender before the qualifiers have even begun? Also, when did Rogan Taylor move from mate of Ferenc Puskas to expert on all football-related music?
Saturday, August 21, 2004
21/8/96 : Kenny Dalglish leaves Blackburn by mutual consent, having spent a year as Director Of Football, a post nobody seems to have any more, or indeed know what exactly anybody in that position did.
It's called taking a joke too far - Goldie Lookin' Chain could sponsor Newport County's shirts You knows it! Oh, shut up.
Friday, August 20, 2004
20/8/94 : After one of those transfers, seemingly increasingly rare (Woodgate aside), that comes completely out of the blue and looks hugely incongruous, Jurgen Klinsmann made his Spurs debut at Hillsborough, scoring the decisive fourth, a corking header after a fine move, in a 4-3 victory, his first of 20 that season. He celebrated with the famous and much imitated by Sunday park sides collective dive; manager Ossie Ardiles took his own dive within three months with Spurs 12th. Go on, Comments box non-users, name the forward-going Famous Five from the start of that season.
Chester City's official statement released on Wednesday explaining why they got shot of Mark Wright seemed to pass without comment in most of the media, which is a shame as it's fantastic, from the idea Daryl Clare was to be given the choice of Boston or Hornchurch to how, after quite a few paragraphs about youth academy funding, new contracts and signing-on fees, the issue is declared "a non-football matter". It's football! What else could it be, then?
Thursday, August 19, 2004
19/8/01 : After one of football's more protracted moves, £18m Ruud van Nistelrooy makes his Premiership debut for Man Utd, and scores twice as his new side beat Fulham 3-2.
We all know the stereotype that footballers don't think too often, but you'd think there were occasions when something would strike them as the obvious thing not to do. Clearly not in all cases - electronically tagged and curfewed Gary Charles goes on holiday, gets spotted, ends up in jail
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Good performance by England, and a great goal (slightly jumping the gun for Shaun Wright-Phillips to score the goal of his international career on his international debut, though), but why were all the players wearing names and numbers on their shirts made out of that silver tape roadies stick on the floor at gigs?
Yes, yes, Toon Army, very funny. Is that bidder going to go through with that £10m bid, then?
18/8/01 : Three Glorious Years Of Townsend! Yes, this opening day of the 2001-02 season may have included new boys Bolton winning 5-0 at Leicester and Arsenal serving notice of their title aspirations by winning 4-0 at the Riverside, something they seem to do yearly, but this was also the first ITV Premiership. "Better for you, better for everyone" were Des' opening words at 7pm to 3.4m people, about the same as it got at 10.30pm from 17th November onwards. That was pretty much its highest figure at 7pm. The Mirror complained there were too many adverts and punditry stoppages, everyone else put their head in their hands when they realised people had actually said yes to ProZone and the Tactics Truck, which Andy will never be allowed to forget.
From the How Have We Lived So Long Without...? department, Gordon Strachan's Edinburgh Fringe. We hope Puppetry Of The Penis still have room on their posters for that quote.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
17/8/96 : Fabrizio Ravanelli scores a hat-trick on his first of many Premiership debuts for Middlesbrough as they draw 3-3 with Liverpool. A good 200 miles south, however, his dreams of the next day's headlines are being dashed as Neil Sullivan idly wanders three or four yards off his line in the last minute of Wimbledon's game against Man Utd. Seconds later, the ball has passed him from 58 yards away, and there that the nightmare begins. Well, it really kicks in about four months later when Beckham meets his future wife, but it's that goal that's always cited as the start of his imperial phase.
You know when 17 year olds break into their top flight club's first team and are instantly hailed as the sort of players the national side should be based around in five years' time? Doesn't always work, that.
Monday, August 16, 2004
1992 : it's all downhill from here as Sky show their first live Super Sunday game, Forest 1 Liverpool 0.
This seems like a decent thing to do - a rematch of Wimbledon v Liverpool including 1988 players. We're assured the penultimate paragraph isn't trying to claim Frank Skinner is a Liverpool fan, before you wonder.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Something for your Christmas lists - Jeff Stelling's written a book, although for all we know at the moment it could be along the lines of those clearly ghostwritten Des Lynam's Best Sports Stories efforts. But as it's Jeff and his statistical mind at work, we doubt it.
15/8/92 : The first day of the Premier League's first season. Scores : Arsenal 2 Norwich 4, Chelsea 1 Oldham 1, Coventry 2 Middlesbrough 1, Palace 3 Blackburn 3, Everton 1 Sheff Wed 1, Ipswich 1 Aston Villa 1, Leeds 2 Wimbledon 1, Sheff Utd 2 Man Utd 1, Southampton 0 Spurs 0.
WANTED: new VT machine. Call BBC Sport
Well, apart from the blackouts and graphics problems, it was good to see MOTD back - but never mind that, of course, nobody need watch MOTD again - you can see all the day's games properly on Sky's Football First!
Well, we won't be.
It's a simple matter, this. We don't support a Premiership side, so our interest in the top flight is merely cosmetic. Sure, we want to see what's going on, but as yet we can't take up the much-vaunted option of watching *your* team almost in full on a Saturday night. It's for indecisive people like us that the interactive screens are arranged like on Champions League nights, so you can try to watch them all on the small screens or flick between games. Except there all the games are live, so you're constantly on the look-out for celebrations, crowding round the ref, corners, free kicks etc., and this is the half the fun of the night's viewing. When you know the score and what order the goals come in, a lot of the entertainment is taken away from this, and you're left with games you already know the outcome of and therefore probably won't care about most either way, especially in a lengthy edit, and with every game having to have its own commentary pairing it's almost pot luck whether you get stuck with a rotten co-commentator just to spoil it like so many Townsends - as the main game is decided after 5pm, you'll end up with situations like last night, where what was adjudged the big draw of the day was commentated on by Capital makeweight Bill Leslie and Warren Barton, who pundited much as you'd expect Warren Barton to. The Match Choice programme ends at 11.45pm, so you may as well watch MOTD, with its properly edited goal highlights and Alan Hansen as opposed to John Gregory, after all if you want to keep up with the shape of the top flight. It's eagerness, of course, but we can't help feeling attempted oneupmanship has led to misplaced idealism.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
14/8/96 : Patrick Vieira signs for Arsenal for £3.5m from AC Milan, snatching him from under Ajax's noses, despite them having no manager having sacked Bruce Rioch two days earlier. What sort of managerial replacement they have in mind is hard to say, although the fact they immediately sign two other Frenchmen is a subtle clue
Here's a quick way to gain support in a takeover battle - lock yourself in the clubhouse for six days
Friday, August 13, 2004
For those wondering why Tim Lovejoy's not contributing to the Soccer AM All Sports Show (and we're certainly not sure about that Andy Goldstein yet, although he is Bob Monkhouse compared to that Fox Sports correspondent), the CMU Music Journal reported this in July:
SKY GIVE LOVEJOY A TFI STYLE SLOT
Former Xfm presenter and host/creator of Sky Sports' cult Saturday morning show Soccer AM - Tim Lovejoy - will get his own TFI-style music entertainment show on Sky One. Sky are hoping Lovejoy can combine the irreverent presenting style that has proved so popular on Soccer AM with his other passion -music. The show will most likely air early evening midweek on Sky's main entertainment channel. It will be interesting to see what the show is like - Sky One best known, of course, for combining the very best American TV shows with the very worst British ones.
Fair comment. Searching on, we found the RDF Media roster for 2004, including:
Tim Lovejoy Offside | 10 x 60'
This live studio show is a fusion of football and music; overseeing the mayhem will be Tim Lovejoy. Guests from the worlds of TV, film & comedy are quizzed on their football allegiances, while footballers are questioned on their music history.
No word on a start date yet, although that had better hurry up if it's a ten part series on before the end of the year.
Partly as an information service upon the launch of this season's Premiership and partly to give us the impetus to update it every day (and yes, to some degree 'because we had all this lying around'), every day until May we'll be at least trying to put in an On This Day stat relevant to the Premiership years. So:
13/8/97 : Derby's first game at Pride Park against Wimbledon is halted by a floodlight failure. A proper one too, not a Malaysian betting syndicate with a pair of pliers.
So yeah, the Premiership's off and running again tomorrow, and the FAPL mean business this year. So much so that they've commissioned their own theme song! This will be played at all Premiership games directly before the kickoff! Clearly Richard Scudamore has a mate who tried to get into the TV theme writing business with a portentious news jingle and had it rejected for being too OTT, but Richard didn't want to see his friend's work go to waste.
Oh, and the line-up handshake's being introduced too. No sign of indolent Player Escorts yet, luckily.
Friday, August 06, 2004
On marches the new season, and here, promptly, comes the Sky Sports Football Yearbook 2004-05, the former Rothmans stronghold retailing for £19.99 properly and £14.99 in WH Smith in its 35th year. As usual it's a massive blue beast, reaching page 1056, and Jack and Glenda Rollin, the Lord Rothermeres of football, have outdone themselves yet again in terms of work put in. The diary goes up to the Euro 2004 final, Stop Press managing as far as Didier Drogba's move.
Despite the commerciality seeping in post-tobacco advertising ban, although Sky putting their name forward for the second season does mean we get a foreword by Lord Stelling of Hartlepool (accompanied by a photo featuring Jeff grinning at a panel who seem from behind to include David Moyes), the central tenets of the book remain, meaning we get bewildering arrays of minor league tables, line-ups, that huge annotated list of home country caps and the famous appearances grid for every club from Premiership to Scottish 3rd to Conference. The players' section would frighten lesser men away, its ever-growing career backstories outdoing every other book in the market by a street, and we won't mention how the shortlived Panini yearbook was doing this in the late 80s years before the Rollins got a new set of A5 pads in.
There are slight reservations, most notably how the diary now appears to have been transcribed directly from rough notes - references to WC, PL, FL and Becks don't sit well with the painstakingly explanatory Diaries of years gone by, and we know what 'More time for Leeds' means now, but what about in twenty years' time? The factual bits are clearly laid out, though, especially when laid against, say, the BBC Yearbook's baffling equations and colour charts, and all the pieces of introductory blurb are written by people who know what they're talking about, even if the Scottish league two-page intro is in a noticeably much larger type than the rest.
But, on buying this book, one query remained. In these days of the Internet, fast moving press and the demand for, well, abbreviations in seasonal diaries, can some traditional features still survive? Is there still room for what is and always has been deemed right in football when so much else seems to be wrong nowadays? We looked and looked, we were slowly giving up hope, and suddenly there it was - page 1021, Football Club Chaplaincy. Once a Rothmans, always a Rothmans.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
They may rename their top league in a bloody stupid fashion, but the Football League will try to make it up to us with hopelessly named newsletter Goala! The PDF's worth noting mostly for Helen Chamberlain, a woman whose external from Soccer AM career can surely sink no lower, giving it the full post-ironic glamour girl with a bunch of notes still with 'SPECIMEN' inked on, seemingly hotfoot from the set of some Stars In Their Eyes spin-off where presenters are made up to look like other minor TV names and she's chosen to be Lauren Laverne.
Some of you may recall Simone, MTV Europe/UK's dance nabob. More of our target audience may recall Andy Hunt, now retired West Brom and Charlton striker of battling type. Well, who knew they'd make such a good couple, in both business and personal terms?
At a time when football's relationship with the web seems to be at its most give and take - broadband highlights versus copyrighted fixtures, say, or a well known Internet retailer placing its preordered copies of the Rothmans (never Sky Sports) Football Yearbook on a delivery schedule of the very end of August/start of September - it's great to see something turn up that is properly, comically, undignified. Especially if it's an apology.