Thursday 1 The FA say that they will ask for more World Cup tickets when they meet tournament organisers later this month. At present only 20% of tickets for each match are to be given over to fans from the two teams involved. Man Utd fan representatives demand a meeting with club officials after some supporters were ejected for standing up during the Boxing Day match with Everton. “The brutality of some of the security staff has gone beyond a joke,” says a spokesman for United’s Independent Supporters Association. Hearts miss a chance to go back to the top of the Scottish Premier after bottom of the table Hibs come back from two down to draw 2-2.
Friday 2 Celtic get their first league win against Rangers in eleven matches, 2-0 at Parkhead. Rangers’ lead at the top is now down to a point. Paul Gascoigne may be in trouble again after responding to the barracking of Celtic fans as he was warming up by pretending to play the flute in an Orange march style (he’ll plead ignorance again, you watch).
Saturday 3 On a day of hellish weather Stevenage make the Cup headlines with a 2-1 win at Swindon. “We kept keeping the ball in the air even though the wind was causing us problems,” grunts a purple faced Steve McMahon. Emley are ten minutes away from drawing at West Ham when John Hartson heads the winner. Liverpool’s defensive ditherings are exposed again as they crash 3-1 at home to Coventry where Darren Huckerby again jinks about to good effect. Aston Villa scrape a draw at Portsmouth with a disputed equaliser two minutes from time. Arsenal are booed off after failing to score again in a home draw with Port Vale – “It is amazing how teams not performing well in their own division suddenly become monsters,” says Arsène, in the grip of Cup fever.
Sunday 4 Chelsea’s defence of the Cup lasts for one bizarre match at Stamford Bridge. Man Utd go 5-0 up after an hour with Chelsea getting three back in the last ten minutes. “It was really only 2-0,” says Ruud, mostly to himself. ’We can get better,” says Alex. Wimbledon have an injury time winner against Wrexham ruled out by the referee who claims to have blown for time when the ball was in the air. Or else he was just marking the twenty year anniversary of a Brazil goal disallowed in similar circumstances at the 1978 World Cup by the controversy addict, Clive Thomas. (Refs honour their own.) You don’t want to know what Joe Kinnear thought.
From WSC 133 March 1998. What was happening this month