September 1997

Tuesday 2 Rio Ferdinand is dropped from the England squad for the Moldova game after being arrested for drink driving. His mum blames it on alcopops still in his system from the day before when he'd celebrated his England call up with West Ham team-mates. If we're reading Glenn's complex moral code correctly, Rio would have been OK if he'd only beaten his girlfriend. Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar criticizes the SFA for not postponing their World Cup match against Belarus due for Saturday, the day of Princess Diana's funeral, saying, "The government wants Saturday to be a day of remembrance not a day of sport." "Colin Hendry is out and big Donald would be a welcome addition to the back four," chirps the SFA's Jim Farry.

Wednesday 3 Scotland's match is moved to Sunday afternoon after it is established that FIFA weren't opposed to the rescheduling. The Rangers players in the squad had threatened to pull out if the match went ahead on Saturday, their decision possibly not unconnected to the fact that the club's vice-chairman Donald Finlay has led the calls for Jim Farry to resign. In the First Division Nottingham Forest lose their 100% record with a 3-1 home defeat against Manchester City.

Thursday 4 Anderlecht admit to having paid the referee of their UEFA Cup Semi-Final 2nd leg against Nottingham Forest in 1984, which they won 3-0 to take the tie on a 3-2 aggregate. Club president Roger Van den Stock, whose father was in charge at the time insists, however, that the money was a loan: "In my father's eyes this was not bribery." Anderlecht's equalizer was a hotly disputed penalty, and in the closing minutes Forest had a crucial away goal disallowed. Division One leaders Bradford City land with a bump, beaten 4-0 at home by Sunderland, but there's good news at last for Doncaster who get their first point of the season in a 1-1 draw at Mansfield.

Saturday 6
In the World Cup, the Republic of Ireland come back from behind to win 4-2 in Iceland, though they have Mark Kennedy (remember him?) sent off. Nearest rivals Macedonia are beaten in Lithuania, whom the Irish face next week. The Premier League Select XI, aka Norway, qualify for the Finals after a 1-0 win in Azerbaijan, and Holland are nearly there after beating Belgium 3-1. Portugal still have a chance of making the play-offs after a 1-1 draw in Germany. In Scotland's group, Sweden appear to have blown their chance of even a runners-up spot after losing 1-0 in Austria.

Sunday 7 Easy for Scotland, 4-1 winners against Belarus with two each from Kevin Gallagher and David Hopkin. They'll qualify for France if they beat Latvia at home next month and Belarus take points off Austria. The FA are to ask their bosses, Sky, to allow ITV to screen England's World Cup match in Italy live, rather than just show highlights. If the game had been in England the FA's contract with Sky would have given them the right to insist that the game be shown live on terrestrial TV. West Brom top Division One after a 1-0 home win over bottom club Reading, while Forest draw at Swindon. In Division Two, Burnley's bizarre start continues – their 1-0 defeat at Chesterfield is their sixth successive game without a goal, though they've only let in three. If Chris Waddle doesn't make it at Turf Moor he's sure to land a coaching job in Serie B.

Monday 8 The Scottish Premier League clubs are to form a new °Æsuper' league, comprising… ten clubs, just like now, except with only one up, one down and none of those play-offs, thank you. And they'll have a new TV deal and a chief executive and sexy sponsorships and it'll be just great, no, really. Forest are to sue Anderlecht over the UEFA Cup bribe, though UEFA themselves claim they can't do anything because their statutes require them to act within ten years of an incident occurring. Tony Yeboah's projected move from Leeds to Hamburg is held up by claims that he will face a huge bill for unpaid taxes if he returns to Germany. (Couldn't he just live on the Isle of Man? Then again, would you want Nigel Mansell as a neighbour?)

Tuesday 9 Rangers' poor cup record this season continues with a home defeat by Dundee Utd in the Scottish Coke, Gary McSwegan the scorer of the only goal. Dunfermline beat Hearts in the other tie. England win their European Under 21 championship group after they beat Moldova 1-0 while Italy lose in Georgia.

Wednesday 10 Two goals for Ian Wright and one for Paul Gascoigne in England's 4-0 win over Moldova. (Gascoigne has never played better, apparently, so a nightclub incident must be lying in wait.) Italy's draw in Georgia means that England now need only a draw in Rome to qualify as group winners. So, play-offs, then. Austria win in Belarus, but Italy's draw means that Scotland are now almost certain to qualify as the best second-placed team (trust us, we've worked it out). The Republic of Ireland are virtually assured of a play-off place after a 2-1 win in Lithuania. Northern Ireland, though, lose to Albania and may finish as low as fifth in their group. Bulgaria qualify for France after a home win over Russia and Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay all clinch their places from the South American group. Celtic and Aberdeen reach the Scottish Coke semis with victories over Motherwell and Airdrie. Oh, and representatives from the six wealthiest leagues in Europe meet in London for a chinwag, with that confounded European Super League believed to be on the agenda. (Set it up, then, you bastards, it'll only be rubbish.)

Saturday 13 A bad day for the Bastinistas as Ian Wright finally breaks their man's record with a hat trick in Arsenal's 4-1 win over Bolton. '179 just done it' says the message on Ian's Nike T-shirt, which he displays after each goal. Tiring, isn't he? Man Utd stay top after coming from behind to beat West Ham 2-1, Chelsea move up to third after a 3-0 win at Palace. Aston Villa zoom up to mid table with a win by the same score at Barnsley and Leicester warm up for Europe with a 3-0 thumping of Spurs – "When you concede one goal then two more quickly the game is over," says Gerry Francis, astute as ever. Wimbledon get their first win of the season, 3-1 at Newcastle with debutant Carl Cort scoring inside two minutes. "He can play a bit, he's not just a big lump," says Joe Kinnear gallantly. Battling Burnley finally score a League goal at their seventh attempt – but then go on to concede three at York.

Sunday 14 Another peculiar game at Ewood Park, with seven goals in the first half and none in the second as Leeds (Leeds!) win 4-3. "It was great for the fans but the standard of defending was awful from both teams," says George Graham, keeping it real. Diego Maradona is allowed to play again (and scores for Boca Juniors) while more tests are done on his positive urine sample, now the most studied wee in history.

Monday 15 Sir John Hall is to quit as Newcastle chairman with his controlling interest in the club passing on to his son, Douglas. "I have honoured every commitment to the club and fans," he says, "There is not another club in the UK that has had as much success and growth." Newcastle made a loss of £23 million in the last tax year, so the other clubs must be in hell of a state. Fabby, currently staying away from Middlesbrough by popular demand, is to have talks with AC Milan. Presumably they won't be keen to provide free plane trips for his family, but hey, you can only ask.

Tuesday 16 In the UEFA Cup Arsenal lose away 1-0 to Salonika in "Europe's stadium of hate" (well, it's better than naming it after the sponsor). Villa get a goalless draw in Bordeaux, where forgotten man Sasa Curcic is the star performer. The stress of being out of the team so long seems to have turned his hair blond. Leicester take the lead against Atl®¶tico only to concede two late goals, one a very soft penalty. "We have every reason to believe we can win the tie," says Martin O'Neill. Rangers lose 2-1 in Strasbourg, while in a game that provided "compelling evidence for a British Cup or European Super League" according to the Daily Mirror, a Steve McManaman goal in the last minute brings Liverpool a 2-2 draw with Celtic. In the slowly expiring Coke Cup, Palace lose 1-0 at Hull, Coventry lose by the same score at Blackpool and Ipswich are held at home by Torquay. Come the British Cup, of course, Torquay will be tootling up to Inverness and Coventry will be packing them in at Brechin. Or is that not the idea?

Wednesday 17 "That will go down as the best game in recent times in Europe," burbles Kenny Dalglish, all of a quiver after Newcastle's 3-2 win over Barcelona in the Champions League, a Faustino Asprilla hat trick putting the home side three up before Barcelona get two back. In the same section PSV Eindhoven are beaten 3-1 at home by Dinamo Kiev. Man Utd, without Giggs and Sheringham, have a comfortable 3-0 win in Kosice, while their main group rivals Juventus beat Feyenoord 5-1. In the Coke 1st legs, Sheffield Wed lose 2-0 at Grimsby but Gerry Francis can banish thoughts of the Situations Vacant columns for a little longer after Spurs come back from behind to beat Carlisle 3-2. Forest surprisingly fall 1-0 at home to Walsall. Turned down by Milan, Fabby is now up for another conflab with Everton. It'll be a restart course if he's not careful.

Thursday 18 In the Cup Winners' Cup Chelsea might have scored ten against Slovan Bratislava but have to settle for two. Kilmarnock lose 3-1 in Nice. The FA charge Bruce Grobbelaar and Hans Segers with breaking football's betting rules, both players having admitted during their trial that they took money for predicting results. If found guilty they may face life bans. The players involved in the dust up at the end of the Leicester-Arsenal match in August are found not guilty of misconduct after an FA inquiry. "You can still get a fair hearing from the FA even when they are under fierce pressure," says Ian Wright, still under threat of a long detention if he misbehaves in class again. A football shirt price war is looming after the Office of Fair Trading rules that two kit manufacturers, Asics and Puma, were wrong to withhold supplies from shops wanting to charge less than the recommended price for their strips. Department stores and supermarkets are now likely to undercut club shops where £40 is the going rate for an adult replica shirt. Mervyn Day is sacked as Carlisle manager – because he insisted on playing five in defence. Shy, retiring Michael Knighton is to take over running the team and will play 4-3-3 instead.

Friday 19 After spending four years huddled over dusty documents in a monastic retreat somewhere in Northern Europe, the Premier League bung inquiry announce their findings. It is confirmed that Terry Venables authorized a payment of £50,000 to Forest assistant manager Ronnie Fenton to help smooth Teddy Sheringham's move from Spurs to Forest, the money being passed on by players' agent Frank McLintock. Venables' action was in breach of FA rules regarding payments to agents but the report accepts that he was "acting for the good of the Tottenham team" and didn't personally profit from the deal. Both Fenton and Brian Clough are alleged to have personally profited from transfer deals between Forest and other clubs. The FA are to take legal action against several of the individuals named in the report, which is described as "worthless and deeply unreliable" by… Frank McLintock.

Saturday 20 A goalless draw for Man Utd at Bolton where Nathan Blake and Gary Pallister are sent off, the latter seemingly just for being thumped, by the notoriously card-happy Paul Durkin (24 bookings in four matches this season). No goals either at White Hart Lane, but a point enables Blackburn to stay second. Leicester move up to third after a 1-0 win at Leeds, who are booed off. Crystal Palace's away form continues with a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park against tenants, Wimbledon. Southampton stay bottom despite a 1-1 draw with Liverpool, who won't want to know that John Barnes' full League debut for Newcastle ends with him scoring the only goal of the game at West Ham.

Sunday 21 Five goals and plenty of swearing at Stamford Bridge where Arsenal win 3-2 thanks to a last minute strike from Nigel Winterburn. Chelsea had been reduced to ten midway through the second half when Franck Leboeuf was sent off. Arsène Wenger thought Dennis Wise should have gone too for lunging at Patrick Vieira. "Perhaps he did go in with two feet but I thought the referees in England allowed that," says Ruud, testily. According to the News of the World, Spurs are about to bid for Paul Merson, who's not been able to move into the house promised to him by Middlesbrough because Fabrizio Ravanelli is still living there, when he's not slumped in a departure lounge, that is.

Monday 22 UEFA take action against Anderlecht, banning them from the next European competition they qualify for. "It does not seem a particularly harsh punishment for undermining the moral base of football," says Forest director Phil Soar. Members of the Forest team who played in that UEFA Cup Semi are to take civil action against Anderlecht for loss of earnings. Ronnie Fenton and Brian Clough could probably chip in if they're hard up.

Wednesday 24 Arsenal go top after a 4-0 thrashing of West Ham. Chelsea would have been second but for a late equalizer from Man Utd's Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford. Chelsea claims that Utd's first goal was offside brings Ruud marching onto the pitch for a row with the ref after which tempers fray rather. "It was all argue, game, stop, argue, game, stop" says Alex, neatly summing up one hundred years of League football. Blackburn and Leicester keep their places in the top four after drawing at Filbert Street. Sheffield Wed's horrible defending continues with a 5-2 home defeat by Derby. In the Coke Cup, Walsall come back from two goals down in extra time to draw with Forest and so take their tie 3-2 on aggregate.

Friday 25 Kevin Keegan and Ray Wilkins are to take over at Fulham with Ray as manager and Kev slipping into a boiler suit as 'chief operations officer' (minding the floodlights and the like). "It was always going to take something special for me to come back into football and this is special," says Kev, gesturing to a wheelbarrow piled with used notes. Mohammed Al Fayed reiterates his aim of making Fulham the "Manchester United of the South", a position currently occupied by Manchester United. Will he succeed, do you think? And Fab's away, finally, with Marseille stumping up the £5 million required. "Our fans will be glad to see the back of him," says a spokesman for the Boro Supporters Club.

Sunday 28 Leaders Arsenal hang on for a point at Everton after surrendering a 2-0 first half lead to goals from two 17-year-olds, Michael Ball and Danny Cadamarteri. Chelsea move up to fourth after a Gustavo Poyet goal is enough to beat Newcastle. "Players like Poyet are so important," says Ruud, "He is like Ince and Keane, vital to a side because they're winners." Man Utd lose 1-0 at Leeds where Roy Keane is stretchered off after injuring himself while trying to foul an opponent. Leicester stay third, and are nearly halfway towards Martin O'Neill's points target for survival after a 2-0 win at Barnsley. Southampton stay rooted to the bottom after conceding four in seven minutes at Derby, the first a contested penalty.

Tuesday 30 In the UEFA Cup Villa beat Bordeaux 1-0 after extra time with a goal from Savo Milosevic, no less, while Liverpool just edge the (ahem) Battle of Britains, on away goals after a goalless draw at home to Celtic. Leicester, however, lose 2-0 at home to Athl®¶tico Madrid and have Gary Parker sent off after getting his second yellow card of the night for taking a free kick before the ref was ready. Martin O'Neill describes the official's performance as "desperately poor" and may be fined by UEFA for further comments which included: "It seemed like 1984, Anderlecht and that sort of thing." Arsenal dominate against PAOK Salonika but let in a daft late equalizer to draw 1-1 and so go out on a 2-1 aggregate. Man Utd announce their launch of their own Pay-TV channel, which will begin broadcasting in a year's time. The channel, in which Sky and Granada will also have a stake, will show six hours of programmes each day but won't be able to show live matches due to Sky's exclusive contract with the Premier League. So, set the video for Ryan's Recipes and Strike It Rich with Martin Edwards.

From WSC 129 November 1997. What was happening this month