September 1999

Wednesday 1 Leicester's Tony Cottee and Andrew Impey are charged with misconduct by the FA after an investigation into how tickets for the 1999 Worthington Cup final ended up on the black market. A further 25 players and officials at Leicester have been charged with failing to assist the inquiry. "It's an absolute farce," says Neil Lennon. "We were given forms and asked to write out who we gave our tickets to but no deadline was given." The average age of the creaking Middlesbrough midfield will be lowered significantly with the return of Juninho, back on loan from Atletico Madrid until the end of the season. The Rep of Ireland beat Yugoslavia 2-1 in a Euro 2000 qualifier.

Thursday 2 A group of 13 Welsh fans intending to travel with their team on the flight to Belarus have to be left behind because the plane is overloaded with excess baggage including potatoes and tins of baked beans. "It's a disgrace," says supporters' spokesman Gwilym Boore. "The Welsh FA seem more concerned about getting the FA Cup final to Cardiff than looking after hardcore fans."

Friday 3 Bobby Robson becomes the new manager of Newcastle, saying, "We've got to batten down the hatches, plug a few leaks and get the ship sailing again," plus all the usual gubbins about it being a massive task, but howay, eh? Robson has a contract until next May, when Newcastle are expected to join the list of clubs who have tried to prise Martin O'Neill away from Leicester. Juninho's Middlesbrough move could be blocked because he has not played enough games for Brazil in the past two years to qualify for a work permit.

Saturday 4 Hat-trick for the undisputed world champion sulker Alan Shearer, as England record a distinctly peculiar 6-0 win over Luxembourg, five of the goals coming before half-time, the sixth added by teenage golfing sensation Michael Owen in the last minute. "I spent £15 million buying Alan and I'd do exactly the same tomorrow," says Kev, who can expect an early morning call from Freddy Shepherd. Scotland look almost certain to take the play-off spot in their group after a 2-1 win in Bosnia and Wales could still finish second in their section after Ryan Giggs scores a late winner in Belarus. Lawrie McMenemy receives the dreaded vote of confidence from the Northern Ireland FA after Turkey win 3-0 in Belfast, watched by just over 7,000, fewer than saw a Glentoran v Linfield derby the previous week. The Republic lose to a last-minute goal in Croatia.

Tuesday 7 Alan Shearer sticks an elbow into Graham Kelly's new book, in which he is referred to as "childish and immature". "It is criminal that it has been released now to cause maximum damage to myself and maximum disruption to an England side." "The publication date is entirely outside my control. And there are far bigger things to rock the boat if the boat is going to be rocked," says Graham. Asia calls off its threatened boycott of the 2002 World Cup. The team that finishes third in the Asian qualifying competition will now play off with a European team for one place in the finals. So two years hence Craig Brown, or whoever is England manager, will be saying "We've got a job to do in Beijing".

Wednesday 8 The much publicised Scandinavian fondness for English football is to be tested: England's 0-0 draw in Poland means they can only take the play-off place in their group if Sweden beat the Poles next month. Kev is left shaken but stirred. "It's a fingers-crossed situation for the whole country. But if we're not in the European championships we'll regroup and come again." "I've been sent off before," snaps David Batty, shrugging off his dismissal late in the second half with the boyish charm we've all come to love. Scotland are booed off by their own fans after a goalless draw in Estonia, but they only need to win one of their two home matches to make the play-offs (where Slovenia will await if their recent luck is anything to go by). The Rep of Ireland sneak past Malta 3-2 after surrendering a two-goal lead and could still win their group if leaders Yugoslavia fail to win their last game away to Croatia. Northern Ireland crash 4-0 in Germany. Wales' play-off hopes are dashed by Denmark's 3-2 win in Italy (only the second time in 50 years, fact fans, that Italy have conceded three at home).

Thursday 9 Man Utd's new Italian goalkeeper Massimo Taibi won't be able to play in the Champions League until next year after UEFA claim he was registered a day too late. Splendid news for Mark Bosnich, who will get to watch some European matches from the subs bench rather than the stands. QPR midfielder George Kulcsar is rushed to hospital having contracted meningitis. Rangers' home match against Sheffield United on Saturday is postponed.

Saturday 11 A brace of own goals from penalty area prowler Jamie Carragher helps Man Utd to a 3-2 win at Anfield. Andy Cole is sent off for lashing out at Rigobert Song and new mature dad David Beckham is lucky not to follow him for twice retaliating after being fouled. "We can only hope that the Champions League will tire them out," says Gerard, doing that wide-eyed look, which serves equally well for "innocent abroad" and "startled rabbit". Davor Suker scores twice for Arsenal against Villa, the second from a penalty area free-kick ludicrously awarded by David Elleray after David James failed to release the ball quickly enough. "A stupid goal," beams Arsene. "The boss hasn't seen the referee – at least I hope he hasn't," says Villa assistant Steve Harrison. Victoria Cross in the post for Stuart Pearce, who breaks his leg during the first half of West Ham's match with Watford but still tries to come out for the restart. Sprightly pensioner Bobby Robson gets a standing ovation before the match at Stamford Bridge, where Newcastle lose to a Leboeuf penalty. They stay one place off the bottom thanks to Sheffield Wed's fourth successive home defeat, 2-0 to Everton. The Hillsborough crowd split into evenly sized booing and cheering sections when Benito Carbone, not on speaking terms with his manager, comes on as a substitute. At the absolute bottom, Exeter's last-minute equaliser denies Chester their first win of the season and keeps them two points adrift. Millwall, who have drawn four out of five, are the only other club in the League without a victory. The first mascot fight of the season occurs at Spotland where Rochdale's Desmond the Dragon (don't ask) lands one on Halifax's Freddie the Fox (ditto) for making an impertinent gesture to home fans.

Monday 13 Kidderminster's Conference match with Nuneaton is the first to be controlled by a female referee, Wendy Toms, and two female assistants. George Kulcsar is released from hospital and QPR confirm that no one else in their squad has contracted the virus.

Tuesday 14 Goalless draws in the Champions League openers. Man Utd are held at home by Croatia Zagreb. "Really, it's not the worst result," says Alex, to himself. Kanu misses a penalty for Arsenal in Florence: "He waits until the keeper moves. It's always dangerous," croaks Arsene. In the UEFA Cup, Leeds' 3-1 "away" win over Partizan Belgrade in Holland owes a lot to an abject goalkeeping display of the kind last seen in 1950s newsreels. There's a Worthington goal jamboree at Prenton Park, where Tranmere thrash Coventry 5-1 and nearly a surprise at Chester, who concede a late goal to Villa, and a penalty rebound at that. Bradford are held at home by Reading, Derby draw at Swansea. Ructions at Leicester where club chairman John Elsom and the chairman of the plc Sir Rodney Walker deny having resigned after a row with the rest of the club's board. "It's a catastrophe," says Martin O'Neill, tidying his desk in an ominous way.

Wednesday 15 No goals between Chelsea and Milan but Gianluca is a happy bunny: "This is a massive boost for our confidence. We were the better side throughout." Rangers are beaten 2-0 by Valencia, who had lost three matches out of three in the Spanish league. Southampton are to sell The Dell for £5 million. The club need a further £25 million to fund a 32,000 capacity all-seater stadium to be built during the next two years. Juninho gets a work permit after Middlesbrough win their appeal, supposedly with help from publicity-shy Tony Blair, MP for nearby Sedgefield. Bury receive a permit for Baichung Bhutia, who may become the first Indian international to play in English football. Carolina Morace, the first woman to take charge of a professional club, Viterbese of Italy's Serie C, resigns after two matches.

Thursday 16 A comfortable night in the UEFA Cup for all three English teams. The days when CSKA Sofia were a force in Europe are long gone, but Newcastle's 2-0 win there is their best performance of the season so far – and their first win since April. "The whole team is clearly gain≠ing in confidence," says Wor Bobby. Bet Ruud wasn't watching. Spurs and West Ham both win 3-0 at home against Zimbru and Osijek respectively. Celtic, too, will be confident of progress after beating Hapoel Tel-Aviv 2-0 at Parkhead, but St Johnstone and Kilmarnock will soon be free to concentrate on the league after three-goal defeats at Monaco and Kaiserslautern. Tommy Burns is sacked as manager of Reading who are second bottom of the Second Division. A Mr Hoddle, who lives just over the road from the club's training ground, might drop in an application.

Friday 17 Martin O'Neill announces that he will not be stepping down as Leicester manager: "I did leave Norwich because of problems with the chairman but perhaps I have matured since then." Man Utd defender Ronnie Wallwork has the life ban imposed on him by the Belgian FA for grappling with a referee lifted on appeal.

Saturday 18 Unlikely scorers at Old Trafford, with Wimbledon's new Israeli Walid Badir putting his team ahead before Jordi Cruyff (yes, we'd forgotten too) saves a point. "We're being stretched and we have so many games to look for≠ward to, like Tokyo and Brazil," says Sir Alex, witheringly. "It is difficult to play against Milan and then find the right motivation for Watford," sighs Gianluca as a goal by Allan Smart sends Chelsea to their first defeat of the season. Leicester fans stage a demon≠stration against chief executive and chief coup plotter Barrie Pier≠point during the 2-2 draw with Liverpool at Filbert Street, though Martin O'Neill plays down the row: "It's not making news in Sussex." Legendary teacup smasher Jim Smith will have been pounding the crockery after Derby crash to a 5-0 home defeat by Sunderland, Kevin Phillips getting a hat-trick. To the astonishment of the nation, Man City look likely to end the century by being quite good, hitting the top of the First Division with a 1-0 win at Walsall, while previous leaders Ipswich lose by the same score at home to Birmingham.

Sunday 19 Bedlam at St James' Park, where Newcastle beat Sheffield Wed 8-0, with Alan Shearer becoming only the second player to score five in a top division match since the start of the Premiership. "I hope that's not going to be expected from us every week," says Bobby Robson, who might have been in the crowd the last time Newcastle got an eight-goal win, in 1946. Unless he was a Sunderland fan then, of course. "Managers have gone for lesser results but I won't quit and I would hope that the players don't quit," says Danny Wilson. Leeds go second after a 2-0 win over Middles≠brough, West Ham lose their first match of the season, 1-0 at Everton. Brian Clough returns to Forest for the renaming of a stand in his honour and says of his latest successor, David Platt: "He's got too much of a suntan for my liking but that will fade."

Tuesday 21 "We were too bad to be true," groans Gianluca as Chelsea lose 2-1 in Berlin. "From heroes to zeroes," he adds, offering his own headline. "Personally, I have to accept responsibility as I trained the players and also signed them". Yes, yes, put the violin down now. Rangers concede a last-minute equaliser in a 1-1 home draw with Bayern Munich. In the Worthington, Watford squeeze past Wigan on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate draw, Juninho sets up a late winner to prevent Middlesbrough being taken to extra time by his old spars from Chesterfield. Preston and Bournemouth knock out First Division opponents Sheffield Utd and Charlton respectively. The League announce that the Worthington Cup will have a tennis-style draw for the third round, with teams being placed on a fixed grid so they can see who their likely opponents in each round are. "It's a different idea which will excite fans," says a spokesman. We're delirious. You?

Wednesday 22 Cosy Champions League win for Man Utd, 3-0 at Graz, but Arsenal, at "home" to AIK need two injury-time goals for a 3-1 win. "It was not good for the heart, but I'm a lot happier," says Arsene from a prone position. Only surprise in the Worthington is Everton losing 1-0 at home to Oxford, though they did start with only two of the players who'd beaten West Ham at the weekend. "I had my reasons but it backfired," says Walter Smith, back in Eeyore mode after a couple of weeks when he was nearly caught smiling. On the day that his board sell Per Frandsen to Blackburn, Colin Todd resigns as manager of Bolton saying: "Financial constraints have held back my personal ambitions."

Thursday 23 UEFA are to consider a new knockout tournament for European national teams to be staged on dates currently set aside for international friendlies. "The steep upturn of club football has reduced the importance of internationals which must be maintained," says UEFA general secretary Gerhard Aigner. There's a method behind the madness, this time, the aim being to bugger up FIFA's plans for a biennial World Cup. As a reminder that science can be a force for evil as well as good, Derby's Lars Bohinen is fined and transfer-listed after criticising Jim Smith's tactics and training methods on his personal website. Over to Lars: "I have a week free and must use it to find a new club. Anybody interested?"

saturday 25 A moment for Mark Bosnich to savour at Old Trafford as Massimo Taibi allows Matt Le Tissier's soft shot to roll under his body for Southampton's second goal in a 3-3 draw. Leeds stay second after a 3-2 win over Newcastle. Michael Bridges scores one and misses a hatful of other chances but David O'Leary won't rush into spending the Hasselbaink millions: "I'm not interested in somebody coming here for their final paycheck." Arsenal stay third but leave it late again, the artist formerly known as Nwankwo scoring the goal that beats Watford with four minutes left. "I felt for Danny Wilson on Sunday, but I can't say I felt much for him today," says Peter Reid after Sunderland's 1-0 victory extends Sheffield Wed's run of successive defeats to six. Derby drop into the bottom three after losing at home to Bradford and have erstwhile saviour Esteban Fuertes sent off. "I've had a few words with him but I'm not sure he understood them all," growls Jim Smith. Birmingham stay top of the First Division with a 2-0 win over QPR, Bristol Rovers look down on the rest of the Second after neighbours City oblige them by drawing with second-placed Burnley, while Barnet remain the surprise pacesetters in the Third, now four points clear.

Sunday 26 Wimbledon fail to beat Spurs for the sixth time this year, drawing 1-1 at Selhurst Park. John Hartson shows his commitment to the cause by getting sent off for what he describes as "more of a slap than an elbow". "I would like him to be more aggressive," says Egil Olsen in his wacky yet uninteresting way. Ipswich go second in the First Division by beating Man City 2-1.

Monday 27 Southampton manager David Jones is to face charges of child abuse dating back to his time as a care worker in Liverpool "I am confident that my innocence will be established in due course," he says. Mayhem at the Merseyside derby with Francis Jeffers (bantamweight) and Sander Westerveld (light heavyweight) sent off after swapping punches, to be followed by Steven Gerrard whose late tackle almost emasculates Kevin Campbell, scorer of the game's only goal. "Some of our players lost the plot," groans Gerard. "When local pride is at stake things can easily spill over,"says Walter, beaming again.

Tuesday 28 One-nil specialists Chelsea do their thing again, this time against Galatasaray, who have keeper Taffarel, the world's most overrated Brazilian, sent off in the first half. Travelling fans are cheered up by Dennis Wise, who offers a preview of the forthcoming rugby World Cup with a high tackle on one of the two Kurdish demonstrators who invade the pitch. In the First Division, Man City miss a chance to go top after a 1-0 defeat at Norwich during which they have two goals disallowed: "We could cope with the 11 men in yellow but not with the three men in black," fumes Joe Royle.

Wednesday 29 Man Utd and Arsenal leave it late again. At Old Trafford, School of Science dropout Ibrahima Bakayoko puts Marseille in front in the first half, Andy Cole equalises with an overhead kick with ten minutes left and ginger bustler Paul Scholes scrambles in a winner moments later. "We just don't know how or when to give up," says Alex. Arsenal, reduced to ten following the dismissal of Gilles Grimandi, come back to force a draw in Barcelona with another goal at the death from Nwankwo Kanu. Arsenal want FIFA to hold an inquiry into the Anelka transfer after producing tape recordings on which a Real Madrid official admits having made an illegal approach. Hands up who cares? Yep, looks like no one.

Thursday 30 Easy progress in the UEFA Cup for the four English clubs. Alan Shearer, who couldn't hit a barn door under Ruud Gullit, gets his eighth goal in four games as Newcastle draw 2-2 with CSKA Sofia. Bobby Robson, still getting to know his squad, says: " I thought Lee, Speed and Dabizas were superb – and the Greek worked his socks off." West Ham win in Osijek, Tottenham get a 0-0 in Chisinau  and Leeds beat Partizan ≠  1-0. "I don't believe the UEFA Cup is a competition we can win this season," says David O'Leary, who hasn't yet got past chapter one in his reverse psychology manual. Celtic are through too, but Kilmarnock and St Johnstone go out. Puzzling news for David Beckham, who is reportedly fined £50,000  for attending a showbiz party the night before Man Utd flew to Austria for a Champions League game. Is this not his job?

From WSC 153 November 1999. What was happening this month