May 1999

Saturday 1 Man Utd go top again after beating Villa 2-1, while Chelsea win 3-1 against Everton, who still need a point to avoid the drop. Southampton move out of the bottom three for the first time this season by beating Leicester 2-1. "We've got our heads above water and now we have to stay there," says winning goal scorer James Beattie. Charlton and Blackburn share a goalless draw at The Valley though the latter are refused what appears to be a clear penalty for a foul on Ashley Ward, who has to be restrained from attacking referee Gary Willard at the final whistle. Rob Harris, in charge (after a fashion) of West Ham's game with Leeds, also comes close to being thumped after dimissing Ian Wright with just 15 minutes gone. West Ham have another two sent off in a 5-1 defeat. "We were tremendous while we still had ten men," says a seething Harry Redknapp. "I thought the referee had a good game," says David O'Leary. Bradford's promotion hopes are knocked back by a home draw with Oxford United, while Bristol City are down after losing at Sheffield United. Walsall are promoted from the Second Division. Brentford join Cambridge and Cardiff in going up from the Third, while Scarborough still have a chance of avoiding the drop after an away win at Halifax. Celtic confirm that Kenny Dalglish is to rejoin them as "technical director" in the summer.

Sunday 2 Arsenal lead the title race by a point once more after a laboured 1-0 win over Derby. Rangers clinch the Scottish championship with a 3-0 win in a wild Old Firm game at Parkhead where three players are sent off, referee Hugh Dallas needs stitches after being hit by a missile and four Celtic fans are arrested as they invade the pitch. Next rematch will be at the Scottish Cup final in a month's time.

Wednesday 5 Arsenal stay top after beating Spurs 3-1 at White Hart Lane. "I don't think we are the favourites and Chelsea are still in it," says Arsene, bluffing away to his heart's content. Man Utd lose a two-goal lead to draw with Liverpool, for whom Paul Ince gets an equaliser three minutes from time. Earlier, referee David Elleray had contentiously sent off Denis Irwin and awarded Liverpool a dubious penalty. "The referee has handed it to them. That's the kind of man we had tonight," says Alex, who has to be restrained by stewards after the final whistle. Chelsea secure their Champions League qualifying place with a 1-0 win over Leeds. Wycombe are out of the Second Division relegation zone after a win over Wigan. Scarborough's 3-0 defeat of Plymouth lifts them off the bottom of the league at the expense of Carlisle.

Thursday 6 Keen to prove he was watching yesterday's match, Man Utd chairman Martin Edwards courts further FA disapproval by laying on the sarcasm: "If Arsenal or Chelsea win the Premiership by one or two points, I trust they will strike a commemorative medal for Mr Elleray."

Saturday 8 "The inmates are running the show and it's been happening too long. There was no courage out there, they were hiding," bleats Brian Kidd after a disastrous day for Blackburn, beaten 2-1 at home by Forest while Southampton get only their second away win of the season, 2-0 at Wimbledon, and Charlton recover from having their keeper sent off to beat Villa 4-3. "Everyone wants us to stay up because we represent the Football League," says Alan Curbishley. In the Second Division, Wigan get into the play-offs at Bournemouth's expense and Northampton Town and York City take the last two relegation places; Oldham survive by beating Reading. Brentford are Third Division champions after winning at Cambridge. A goal from keeper Jimmy Glass in the fourth minute of injury time beats Plymouth and saves Carlisle's League place. Scarborough, held at home by Peterborough, go down instead and people in red and white afro wigs lie motionless on the pitch for a very long time.

Sunday 9 "It's frightening, it's fantastic," says Paul Jewell, whose Bradford team are promoted to the Premiership after a 3-2 win over Wolves, who miss a play-off place. Champions Sunderland finish on 105 points, a new record. Bury and Oxford are both relegated despite home victories, the latter by 5-0. QPR, 6-0 winners over Palace (uh-huh), stay up. Man Utd are back on top of the Premiership after a Dwight Yorke goal beats Middlesbrough at the Riverside. Roy Keane is injured, though, and may miss the rest of the season. Scarborough, firmly locking the stable door, are to protest to the FA about Carlisle getting dispensation to sign match-winning keeper Jimmy Glass after the transfer deadline.

Monday 10 Chelsea's title hopes disappear with a 2-2 draw at Spurs that leaves them three points off the top with only one game left. Gianluca is not giving up though: "One thing I've learned in England is to say eit's not over till the fat lady sings'." So it's not been a wasted stay. Huddersfield manager Peter Jackson is surprisingly sacked by the club's new owner, Barry Rubery.

Tuesday 11 Arsenal drop below Man Utd on goal difference after losing for the first time in five months, 1-0 at Leeds, who had missed a penalty before Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's winner five minutes from time. "Even a point would not have been too bad. We have to be optimistic but United have a great chance now," says Arsene.

Wednesday 12 "The Premiership's the only league to be in – and we're out of it," says Brian Kidd as Blackburn slip away with a goalless draw against Man Utd, who thus hold a one-point lead going into the last weekend of the season. "It's a real nailbiter now," says Alex. Arsenal deny reports that Real Madrid have offered £13 million, plus Predrag Mijatovic, for narky Nicolas Anelka. Parma win the UEFA Cup, beating Marseille 3-0 in Moscow. "Now they'll have something else to celebrate in the city of Parma apart from their delightful hams and wonderful cheese," proclaims Barry Davies, possibly pining for home comforts after a few days of Russian hotel food. Duncan Ferguson is in danger of missing the Cup final but Ruud has reassuring news: "He's not injured. It's all about his biorhythms."

Saturday 15 In the play-offs, Man City get a 1-1 draw at Wigan in the last match to be played at Springfield Park. Kingstonian win the FA Trophy, beating Forest Green 1-0.

Sunday 16 Man Utd are champions after coming from behind to beat Spurs 2-1, with goals from Beckham and Cole either side of half-time. "I'm starting to paint my players as gods of the game," says Alex, arm slung around the nearest passer-by. "It's like a bus and we're going to the next stop. If somebody gets left behind that's their own fault." "We were the best team from December until now but after having eight players at the World Cup it took us time to get back to our level," says Arsene. Southampton stay up thanks to two goals from the man widely mistaken for Michael Owen throughout the Baltic, Marians Pahars. "He's like a whippet," says David Jones. Charlton are beaten 1-0 at The Valley by Sheffield Wed. "Quite a bit of huffing and puffing but no goal, it's been the story of our lives," says Alan Curbishley, adding, "The tale of the two clubs is simple. In our last six home games we didn't win one." West Ham will be inviting Mother Brown to get her knees up after clinching the Inter Toto place with a 4-0 thrashing of Middlesbrough. Both clubs are among the 14 who finish with a negative goal difference, a record for the top division. In the play-offs, Watford and Bolton take one-goal leads to Birmingham and Ipswich; Gillingham hold Preston 1-1 at Deepdale; Swansea beat Scunthorpe 1-0; and Rotherham get a goalless draw at Leyton Orient. Tiverton Town retain the FA Vase with a 1-0 win over Bedlington Terriers.

Monday 17 Steve Bruce resigns as Sheffield United manager. Officials from Crystal Palace and Wimbledon admit to having had talks about a merger earlier in the season, but shelved the idea on discovering that the new team would have to take over the league position of the lower-placed club. Roy Keane is arrested after a fracas in Manchester nightclub. "You could say in football parlance that he's not over the moon. What his inner feelings are, I don't know," says his solicitor.

Tuesday 18 Wantaway millionaire Martin Edwards insists Man Utd will be unable to repeat last summer's spending spree in the close season: "Money doesn't grow on trees and these things have to be paid for." "It's unseemly for a football club chairman to be shooting his mouth off in this way," says a spokesman for the Man Utd supporters group, IMUSA. Carlisle sack manager Nigel Pearson.

Wednesday 19 Bolton are through to the First Division play-off final after edging past Ipswich on away goals following a 4-3 defeat at Portman Road. "My players are absolutely devastated. We never got the rub of the green," says George Burley. "Ipswich deserved to go up but I don't make the rules," says Colin Todd. Man City and Gillingham will meet in the Second Division final after 2-1 aggregate wins. Leyton Orient beat Rotherham on penalties after a second goalless draw and will meet Scunthorpe, 3-1 winners over Swansea, in the Third Division final. Lazio win the first and last Cup-Winners Cup final to be played at Villa Park, beating Real Mallorca 2-1.  Saturday 22nd Man Utd complete their third double in five years, beating Newcastle 2-0 in the first Cup final between two clubs called United (no, really). "I feel great," says Alex. "They can almost decide which time they want to score a goal," says Ruud. Teddy Sheringham, on as an early sub for Roy Keane, scores the first, Paul Scholes the second. Duncan Ferguson, on as a second-half sub, earns his £40,000 for this week by winning some headers. Jaap Stam is given a runout in the last 15 minutes to test his hamstring.

Sunday 23 St Johnstone clinch Scotland's UEFA Cup qualification spot by beating Dundee while rivals Kilmarnock draw with Rangers. Kilmarnock will still qualify for Europe, however, as winners of the Fair Play league. Steve Bruce is the new manager of Huddersfield, having been promised a big wodge of cash to spend (but, as Brian of Blackburn can confirm, it doesn't always bring happiness).

Wednesday 26 Man Utd score twice in injury time to snatch the Champions League trophy from Bayern Munich, who had led from the sixth minute. "I can't believe it. I can't believe it. Bloody hell," says Alex, adding, "I haven't said anything to my players yet, I've just slobbered all over them." "The Germans were getting too cocky and that spurred us on," says Teddy Sheringham, scorer of the equaliser less than a minute before fellow sub Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hits the winner. "English football has come back from the wilderness now," says Sir Bobby Charlton, who was obliged to watch the match sandwiched between the butcher's boy Martin Edwards and that man Tony Banks MP, who leads the calls for Alex Ferguson to receive a knighthood.

Thursday 27 "I know I have a track record but promotion doesn't happen overnight," says Dave Bassett after becoming the new manager of Barnsley. "This is an appointment which excites me," says chairman John Dennis, evidently not a hard man to please.

Saturday 29 Rangers complete their own treble, with Rod Wallace scoring the goal that defeats Celtic 1-0 in the Scottish Cup final. Scunthorpe are promoted for the first time in 15 years after beating Leyton Orient in the Third Division play-off final. Northern Ireland win 1-0 in Dublin in the Omagh benefit match. The FA of Ireland announce that they will not observe the usual pre-match formalities before next Saturday's Euro 2000 qualifier against Yugoslavia in protest at UEFA's insistence that the game go ahead.

Sunday 30 Man City return to the First Division after winning a penalty shoot-out against Gillingham, who had taken a two-goal lead in the last ten minutes of normal time, only for City to level with virtually the last kick of the match. "We won't make the mistakes of old," says City chairman David Bernstein, just in case anyone had been expecting him to re-employ Phil Neal.

Monday 31 Watford reach the Premiership with a 2-0 win over Bolton in the First Division play-off final. "I turned around and saw 38,000 Watford people in heaven and that will live with me forever," says Graham, all of a-quiver. "I can't wait for next season, even though I'm full of trepidation," says Elton, who can probably feel a song coming on. Rangers vice-chairman Donald Findlay resigns after being caught on video singing sectarian songs at a party to celebrate Rangers' Cup victory. Ebbe Skovdahl leaves Brondby to become the new manager of Aberdeen but he's not expected to tempt his nephew Brian Laudrup into joining him.

From WSC 149 July 1999. What was happening this month