THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Wednesday 1 Norwich reach the First Division play-off final, beating Wolves 3-2 on aggregate after a 1-0 defeat at Molineux. David Jones declines to discuss his team’s decline (“What I think will stay in-house”), while Nigel Worthington is taking each day as a bonus: “Before the start of the season I’d have settled for eighth or ninth.” Cardiff miss the chance of a play-off final on their doorstep by losing 2-0 at home to Stoke in the second leg of their semi. In the other Second Division tie, Brentford beat Huddersfield 2-1. After two years in administration, Airdrie go into full liquidation and consequently lose their place in the Scottish First Division – any new club launched under the same name would have to start in the Third. A Turkish man is jailed for 15 years for the murder of two Leeds fans in Istanbul in 2000. Four others are found guilty of lesser charges.

Thursday 2 A last-minute winner from Stern John takes Birmingham through to the First Division play-off final. After the match several policemen are injured in clashes with Millwall supporters. “Once again, the thuggish element which sees football as a cover for their violent tendencies has sullied the name of our club,” says chairman Theo Paphitis. A candidate from Brentford fans’ ABeeC party is voted on to the local council on a platform of keeping the club in its home borough of Hounslow. Hartlepool’s monkey mascot, H’Angus, is elected as the town’s mayor.

Friday 3 FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen calls for a criminal investigation into corruption in world football’s ruling body. “I have been loyal to the president for too long. FIFA is run like a dictatorship,” he says after presenting a dossier alleging widespread malpractice. Sev­eral middle-aged men in expensive suits are believed to have sat with mouths agape during his presentation.

Saturday 4 Arsenal complete the first half of the Double, beating Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup final with second-half goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg. Arsène crosses one off his list: “It was important to win the first trophy so we can go to Old Trafford to win the second.” A last-minute goal from Peter Lovenkrands gives Rangers a 3-2 win over Celtic in the Scottish Cup final.

Monday 6 Cheltenham Town are promoted to the Second Division after a 3-1 win over Rushden in their play-off final. Manager Steve Cotterill doesn’t quite play down rumours linking him with a move higher up: “I honestly don’t know if I will be here at the start of next season.” Sir Alex describes reports that Juan Sebastian Veron has asked for a transfer after falling out with team-mates as “blooming, blinking nonsense”, or similar.

Tuesday 7 Ireland’s World Cup squad is announced, with no place for recently capped players such as Colin Healy and Steven Reid. Mick McCarthy is keen on loyalty: “I don’t believe the players who got us to the World Cup six months ago suddenly become unwanted or not good enough to travel.”

Wednesday 8 Arsenal complete the Double, winning 1-0 at Old Trafford through a Sylvain Wiltord goal. “I’m not going to dance around,” says Arsène, pulling that face where he’s trying hard not to laugh, “we have got what we deserved and we have done it in style.” Sir Alex doffs his titfer: “They are worthy champions without question. We’ve lost six games at home and you can’t argue with that.” Liverpool move into second place ahead of United after a 4-3 win over Blackburn. Two players who left the Premiership with damaged reputations, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Jon Dahl Tomasson, score the goals by which Feyenoord win the UEFA Cup final on their own ground, 3-2 against Borussia Dortmund.

Thursday 9 The England squad for the World Cup includes Owen Hargreaves, Wes Brown and Joe Cole, with no place for Steve McManaman (“I’m upset he doesn’t rate me, but he’s made his mind up”). Sven is cautiously optimistic, as per: “Let’s try with every strength we have to survive the first three games and then, anything is possible.” The overlooked Andy Cole announces his international retirement – a decision that seems to have been made for him.

Friday 10 Fork fiddler Uri Geller leads a takeover at Exeter City and will become the club’s non-executive chairman. He claims to have been a Exeter fan in a previous life. Derby’s hopes of releasing the highly paid Fabrizio Ravanelli may be blocked by the player: “John Gregory can say whatever he wants, I have a contract until 2003.” Meanwhile, Bradford City’s failure to offload Benny Carbone is cited as a main reason why trading in the club’s shares has had to be suspended. Voluble chairman Geoffrey Richmond appeals for calm: “I would ask our loyal supporters, during this difficult period, to rally round and keep faith.” Gillingham striker Marlon King is sentenced to 18 months for handling a stolen car.

Saturday 11 “My message is that this will not spell the devastation of Ipswich Town,” says chairman David Sheepshanks after his club is relegated by a 5-0 defeat at Liverpool. Steven Gerrard limps out of the match and is now doubtful for the World Cup. Kieron Dyer may also miss the finals after damaging his knee in Newcastle’s match at Southampton. Fulham players will scarcely have time to go on holiday this summer after clinching an Intertoto place despite a 3-0 defeat at Blackburn. Aston Villa, 3-1 winners at Chelsea, take the other spot. Stoke’s 2-0 win over Brentford in the Second Division play-off final makes them the first team to win at the Millennium Stadium from the “unlucky” dressing room. In the 13th match. Wooh. Whitley Bay beat Tiptree Utd 1-0 in the FA Vase final.

Sunday 12 Birmingham City return to the top division after 16 years, with 18-year-old Darren Carter scoring the winning penalty after a 1-1 draw with Norwich. Size matters to Steve Bruce: “It’s a massive club and we are all intrigued as to how big it could be.” Nigel Worthington is consolable: “There’s no worse way of losing but it’s been one hell of a season for us.” It is reported that Football League chairmen will be asked to vote on admitting Rangers and Celtic to the First Division later this week. Yeovil win the FA Trophy, beating Stevenage 2-0.

Tuesday 14 The FA announce that they “would not sanction” Rangers and Celtic moving to England and the Premier League don’t want them either: “There is no mood among our clubs to change the structure of the competition in this way,” says a spokesman. Newcomer Robert Earnshaw scores the goal by which Wales beat Germany at the Millennium Stadium. Mark Hughes is enraptured: “Have I see a better debut? Mine wasn’t bad but he pushed it close.” Rudi Völler saw it coming: “I told them at half-time they were taking the friendly match too literally.” Liverpool confirm that Steven Gerrard needs a groin operation and will miss the World Cup. Danny Murphy will be his replacement. Rochdale are the latest to blame the ITV Digital crisis for their failure to agree terms with manager John Hollins, who leaves after five months in charge. Aston Villa win 4-1 at Everton in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final.

Wednesday 15 Real Madrid win the Champions League with a spectacular volley from Zinedine Zidane, seeing off treble losers Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at Hampden. “It was so athletic, so beautiful,” sighs Real coach Vicente del Bosque. The Football League and the PFA declare their opposition to FIFA’s plan for transfer windows which will involve players being bought or sold only in January or during the summer break. Mark Kennedy pulls out of the Ireland World Cup squad, to be replaced by Steven Reid.

Thursday 16 “I saw a lot of bad things and I saw some small good things,” says Berti Vogts, peeking through his fingers as Scotland fall to a third successive defeat under his management, 4-1 in South Korea. The somersaulting Tottenham target Julius Aghahowa is on target again as Nigeria beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in Dublin. Four days after their promotion to the First Division, Stoke City sack manager Gudjon Thordarson: “The manager has not always appreciated the financial constraints within which he has had to work,” says a club spokesman. The Office of Fair Trading accuses 11 companies of fixing Umbro replica kit prices, among them Manchester United plc and the Soho-based Football Association. On the day that his club goes into administration, Bradford City owner Geoffrey Richmond claims that a straw poll of First Division chairmen shows overwhelming support for allowing Rangers and Celtic to join.

Friday 17 The Football League’s claim against the owners of ITV Digital will be heard in July, before the August 1 date when the next contractual payment was due to be made. Liverpool announce plans for a new 55,000 capacity ground in Stanley Park adjacent to their current site, though they will meet opposition from the local council, who want Anfield to be redeveloped. Ignoring the old wisdom that you should never return to a place where people have waved white hankies at you, Louis van Gaal signs up for a second spell as Barcelona coach.

Saturday 18 ­Despite a 1-0 second leg defeat by Everton, Aston Villa win the FA Youth Cup, 4-2 on aggregate. Nigeria lift the inaugural Unity Cup with a 1-0 win over Jamaica at their second home, Loftus Road. And David Beckham’s got a new haircut for the World Cup. It looks like he did it himself with blunt scissors but it cost as much as a house.

Tuesday 21
Michael Owen gives England the lead against Korea who come back to draw 1-1. Kieron Dyer is included in the final World Cup squad but may not be fit enough to play against Sweden. Rascally Roy Keane pulls out of Ireland’s squad after a row with coaching staff, then changes his mind. “It comes with the territory,” sighs Mick McCarthy, making a twisting motion with his finger. Liverpool pull out of a deal to sign Nicolas Anelka, to the annoyance of Paris St-Germain. “I told Gérard he was not respecting his commitments,” says vice president Alain Cayzac.

Wednesday 22 Roy Keane criticises the FAI’s World Cup preparations: “Training pitch, travel arrangements, getting through the bloody airport when we were leaving, it’s the combination of things.” Danny Murphy is the latest England midfielder with a foot injury. Trevor Sinclair, who has just returned home, is ready to fly out again. Franco Baresi joins Fulham as director of football. “This is the next step in realising my dream of making Fulham one of the foremost clubs in the world,” says his new employer. England Under-21s lose 3-1 to Portugal and exit the European championship at the group stage.

Thursday 23 Roy Keane is sent home after a public slanging match with Mick McCarthy, who says: “I am happy to go to the World Cup one man down rather than with a man who shows utter disregard and disrespect for me.” Ireland’s first opponents, Cameroon, are stuck in Thailand five days after they were due in Japan, a row over money having disrupted their plans. Scotland win a game, 4-0 against a Hong Kong XI.

Friday 24
The Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, offers to mediate in the Keane row but Mick McCarthy rules it out: “If someone tries to force a player on me I will quit.” “It looks like I’m fated to be there,” says Trevor Sinclair on rejoining the England squad as replacement for Murphy. Nicolas Anelka is to join the suddenly minted Man City for £13 million.

Sunday 26 England draw 2-2 with Cameroon thanks to a last-minute Robbie Fowler equaliser. Sven’s brow is furrowed: “There are things we can do better, but I have a week.” Jason McAteer may miss Ireland’s opening match after a bad tackle from ex-Cameroon international Patrice Billong in a 2-1 win over Hiroshima.

Monday 27 Roy Keane says “maybe there is a way” he could return, but an FAI spokes­man disagrees: “An apology from Roy would be absol­utely vital before anything moved forward but it did not occur.” Steve Cotterill quits as Cheltenham manager to take over at Stoke. QPR are out of administration. Italian sensation Mas­simo Maccarone turns down a move to Birmingham after his club Empoli agreed to sell him for £7 million: “In England it would be more difficult for a thousand reasons.”

Tuesday 28 The Ireland squad issue a statement saying they are unanimously opposed to Keane being recalled. Wimbledon are given the green light to move to Milton Keynes by an independent commission appointed by the FA. “It has to be the death of our club. If it moves it will mean nothing to us,” says a spokesman for the independent supporters association. Forgotten Irishman Phil Babb joins Sunderland from Sporting Lisbon. After a rancorous campaign, Sepp Blatter is re-elected as FIFA president, easily beating the African challenger Issa Hayatou. He has a job on: “I believe in the family of football and I have to restore peace.” Nice-but- relegated Ipswich are given a UEFA Cup place through the Fair Play League.

Wednesday 29 David Beckham is pronouced fit and will play against Sweden. Steve McClaren is paternally proud: “It’s a ball and he won’t leave it alone. We’ll have to hold him back.” Robbie Savage joins Birmingham City. Wimbledon fans are planning to form a new club which could enter the Ryman League next season. Paul Simpson is appointed player-manager of Rochdale.

Friday 31 The FA are to receive a £400 million loan from Westdeutsche Landesbank which will allow them to begin rebuilding Wembley in September, with a completion date of 2005. Oldham sack manager Mick Wads­worth, to be replaced by first-team coach Iain Dowie.

From WSC 185 July 2002. What was happening this month

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