On This Day in History – 9th-11th March
This is a new series where, as a sort of preview for the weekend’s fixtures, we look back at events that happened on the same day, somewhere in the past.
10th March 1997
Lightning Strikes Twice
Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle
In 1996, Liverpool and Newcastle played out one of the finest matches in Premier League history. Many people have voted it as the greatest game of the Premier era. The game ended 4-3 to Liverpool as Stan Collymore scored a dramatic late winner to put paid to Newcastle’s title challenge.
In 1997, the two met again at Anfield. At the time, Liverpool were 3rd, 5pts behind Man Utd, with Newcastle a further 5pts behind Liverpool, in 4th.
Liverpool came out of the blocks the quicker and Steve McManaman put them in front after 29 minutes. Patrick Berger then doubled the lead a minute later. When Robbie Fowler put the home side 3-0 up just before half-time, Liverpool were expecting to ease towards victory and move above Arsenal into 2nd place.
Even with 20 minutes to go, the home side were comfortable. Keith Gillespie grabbed a goal back for Newcastle, but they struggled to build on that. That was until Newcastle’s mercurial Colombian, Faustino Asprilla, made it 2-3 with just 3 minutes to go. Remarkably, Newcastle pushed forward again and Warren Barton was on hand to level for the visitors. Liverpool had given up a 3-0 lead. Barely 90 seconds later, Liverpool attacked, Bjornebye crossed from the left and there was Fowler to head the winner for Liverpool. Another stunning result and what price would you have got for the same scoreline?
That Newcastle side was managed by Kenny Dalglish. He had taken over from Kevin Keegan in January 1997. On 10th March 2012, Dalglish is back as Liverpool manager taking his team back to the North East to meet Sunderland
March – A Time for The Sack
Another manager to lose his job on 10th March was Howard Wilkinson. He was given the push from Sunderland, along with his Assistant, Steve Cotterill in 2003. They were bottom of the Premier League with just 19pts from 29 matches. His replacement? Mick McCarthy.
Unfortunately, Mick couldn’t save The Black Cats, mainly due to the fact they lost every game from then to the end of the season, scoring just twice in 9 matches.
Liverpool Pay A Record Fee for a Striker Who Cannot Score
No, this isn’t about Andy Carroll or even David N’gog, but in 2000 they spent a record £11m for Emile Heskey. Noted more for being a targetman rather than a goalscorer, Heskey kept up his career ratio of goals per game at Liverpool as his stats mirrored those from his Leicester days.
£11m seems quite tame now when you consider they paid Sunderland £16m for Jordan Henderson. He doesn’t score either.
This time of year is often one for FA Cup matches and our last two items focus on that competition. In 1997 the FA Cup had reached the Quarter-Final stage, and rather unusually contained a tie with two sides from League One (or the old Third Division). Chesterfield met Wrexham at Saltergate and the game’s only goal came from Chesterfield’s Chris Beaumont, just before the hour mark.
Chesterfield went onto to almost reach the final as they met Premier League, Middlesbro, and finally succumbed in a replay, after a thrilling 3-3 draw at Old Trafford.
On Saturday, Luton Town are at home to Ebbsfleet in a Conference match. They are currently 3rd in the table and in the play-off places, hoping for a return to the Football League after a 4 year absence.
Back in 1985 things were very different for the Bedfordshire club. They were a First Division (now Premier League) club back then, and on 9th March they were looking forward to a clash with their nearest rivals, Watford in the FA Cup. The two were drawn against each other in the Fifth Round.
Originally scheduled for February, this tie was one of four that didn’t get played until Monday 4th March. Both sides had already played league fixtures on the previous Saturday, and they played out a 0-0 draw. Such was the fixture pile-up, the replay was arranged for Wednesday 6th March. At Vicarage Road the two sides couldn’t be separated and drew 2-2 after extra time.
With no penalties to decide games in those days, the two would have to have a Second Replay, and amazingly this was set for Saturday 9th March. In fact, they were so late trying to reach a conclusion to this tie that two Quarter-Final ties were played that day too.
This time Luton’s Wayne Turner scored the only goal of the game and Luton progressed to meet Millwall in the next round. That match was then played the following Wednesday, so Luton had played 4 FA Cup games in the space of 9 days. They won that game 1-0 as well, but eventually fell to Everton, 1-2 in the Semi-Finals
Everton went on to win the league that season, but were beaten in the Cup Final by Man Utd. Luton finished mid-table, something that would’ve seemed unachievable back in early March. At the time of their battle with Watford, Luton were 2nd from bottom with just 25pts from 26 matches. They then amassed a further 29pts from their remaining 16 matches to end the season in 13th place.
Unfortunately, their Sixth Round clash with Millwall will be remembered more for the riot which broke out in the ground, and resulted in Luton banning away fans for the next 4 years.
Don’t think they’re expecting much trouble from away supporters this Saturday.