Top 10 opening day classics

by Mystical Mike

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

With the start of the season now just three weeks away, it’s time to dust off the memory bank and delve into some classic encounters from the opening day of the season. Relive some great, and not so great, names of years gone by and add your own memories as I present ten stunning openings to the Premier League season…


1992…Crystal Palace 3-3 Blackburn Rovers

Alan Shearer had just joined Blackburn from Southampton in Jack Walker’s revolution at Ewood Park and started with a bang at Selhurst Park. Palace took an early lead through Mark Bright but Stuart Ripley equalised three minutes before half time. A young Gareth Southgate put the home side back in front but Shearer then took over, turning the game in Blackburn’s favour with two goals. With time running out, Simon Osborn grabbed a 90th minute goal to give Palace a share of the spoils.


1994…Sheffield Wednesday 3-4 Tottenham Hotspur

There was a new king in town at Spurs as Juurgen Klinnsmann brought his unique flair to the Premier League and had a debut to remember, scoring a tremendous volley as part of Spurs’ thrilling opening day win at Hillsbrough. Darren Anderton, Nick Barmby and Teddy Sheringham were also on the scoresheet.


1995…Southampton 3-4 Nottingham Forest

In an incredible battle at the Dell, Matt Le Tissier got a hat-trick but still ended up on the losing side. Le Tiss equalised Colin Coopers’ early goal but Cooper struck again before Brian Roy had Forest 3-1 up before half-time. Le Tissier slotted home a penalty on the hour and then ten minutes later had the Saints level. But Roy would have the final say and scored with ten minutes to play to give Forest an early win.


1996…Derby 3-3 Leeds

Dean Sturridge scored a hat-trick in the final fifteen minutes as Derby shared the points with Leeds on the opening day of 1996/97. An own goal from Jacob Laurson and an Ian Harte strike gave Leeds a 2-0 lead going into the final exchanges. Sturridge hit two in two minutes to bring Derby level but Lee Bowyer looked to have won it for the visitors with five minutes to gone. But Sturridge completed his hat-trick within two minutes of time and Derby stole a point in dramatic style.


2002…Charlton 2-3 Chelsea

In a thrilling opening day at The Valley, Chelsea came from two goals down to beat Charlton. The home side cruised into a first half lead with goals from Paul Konchesky and Richard Rufus. Gianfranco Zola halved the deficit before half-time but it looked all out of reach until Carlton Cole, later to play for Charlton, equalised on 84 minutes. Frank Lampard completed the turn around with just a minute to spare.


1999…Watford 2-3 Wimbledon

Back in the good old days when Wimbledon were a real football club, they came up against league new boys Watford on the first day of the season. Carl Cort had the Dons in front but Peter Kennedy struck Watford level front from the spot within seven minutes. Marcus Gayle tilted the game back in Wimbledon’s favour before half-time but Michel Ngonge levelled again. With twelve minutes to play, Watford’s Richard Johnson put through his own net to finally had Wimbledon victory.


2003…Fulham 3-2 Midlesbrough

Fulham and Boro were paired together in what looked like an ordinary first day encounter. But what followed was a five goal spectacle, started by Boro’s Carlos Marinelli on ten minutes. Steve Marlet, Junichi Inamoto and Louis Saha turned the game in Fulham’s favour but Sziliard Nemeth grabbed a goal with ten minutes left to set up a nervy finish. Fulham held on though and recorded vital early points.


2005…Aston Villa 2-2 Bolton

In one of the craziest openings to a Premiership season in recent history, four goals were scored in the opening nine minutes at Villa Park. Kevin Phillips and Kevin Davies had already made the game 1-1 after just six minutes but then Ivan Campo put Bolton in front. Just seconds later, though, and it was 2-2 when Steven Davis put Villa back on terms.


2006…Reading 3-2 Middlesbrough

League new boys Reading were welcomed to the Premier League with a baptism of fire as unfancied Boro took a two goal lead at the Madeski through Stuart Downing and Yakubu. But the Teesiders weren’t anticipating what happened next as Dave Kitson and Steve Sidwell had made it 2-2 even before half time. Ten minutes into the second half, Leroy Lita had put Reading in front as they recorded a memorable start to their top flight stay.


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  • Jackie Emu

    boro mentioned twice…for games that were entertaining yes …but a missed opportunity I feel…
    how the 1997 classic boro 3 liverpool 3 ravanelli bagging all three could be overlooked?

    I’ve never seen so many kids with shirts over heads after that game!

  • Darren

    what about Arsenals classic 1-0 defeat to Wimbledon back in 92-93, the dullest game in Premiership history. Arsenal didn’t have a shot all game so George Graham brought on David O’Leary as an center forward. The Dons scored in injury time to seal a 1-0 win. I think we ended up winning 3 away games all season.

    On a positive note, what about UCF’s classic 1-0 away win at Peckham, Petter Potter playing as a lone striker scored the only goal after 5 minutes, UCF went on miss out on the Div 2 championship on goal difference.

  • Darren

    actually, that was a classic, I remember Ravanelli’s hatrick, probably the best times as a Boro fan

  • James Webb

    Didn’t Norwich beat Arsenal 4-2 back in the Goss, Fox, Sutton era ? (sounds like a good game to me lol !!!)

  • Darren

    actually no, they were 3-1 up but we ended up winning 4-3, Lee Dixon scored a last minute winner after missing a pen.

    Didn’t Sunderland beat the Spuds 1-0 last season? 🙂

  • Danny Brothers

    Yep, I remember that one, that was on Sky before any other Premier Legaue game had kicked off if memory serves me right? The late Chopra goal…

    Anyone with a nigtmare story of a opening game?

    I remember one Northampton first day game at Wigan where the bus was late, we had two players sent off and lost all grip on the art of football…fortunately we turned things around and won the playoffs that year!

  • Darren

    another Arsenal one I’m afraid.

    After beating Liverpool 0-2 at Anfield to claim the title which was without doubt the best finish to a season ever, Arsenal started the next season as Champions away to Man United. I was in Malta at the time, when I checked the score to my shock horror we got thumped 4-1, George Graham failed to strengthen the team so consequently we got found out, which sounds remarkably like the Arsenal of today.

  • Martin Tibbetts

    Obviously a Leicester one from me. August 15, 1998. Old Trafford. Jaap Stam’s league debut ends at 45 minutes, taken off after been confused and run ragged by the brilliant Emile Heskey – the big man just couldn’t cope. A Heskey goal saw the Foxes one up at half time, then with 15 minutes to go Cottee made it two. But wait, 3 minutes later Sheringham pops up with one to make it a nailbiter. 90 minutes come and go and its still 2-1, a famous victory beckons. But no-one betted on the Old Trafford time slip. It was the 56th minute of the 2nd half when Beckham scored the equalizer. We had forgotten the rule that if Man Utd are losing at home the game continues until they snatch the point! Gutted, but what a game and after some great performances the previous season, it was the match that rocketed the boy Emile onto the A List…

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