Premier League

Opening Day Classics – Tottenham, Wolves, West Ham, West Brom And Wigan!

Keane as Mustard


In 1994, Tottenham were well and truly in the mire with the FA over financial irregularities. Although they had a 12-point deduction and FA Cup ban overturned, many feared that the off field troubles would give way to a season of woe. Tottenham, with new signing Jurgen Klinsmann, would have a safe and quiet season with a run to the FA Cup semi final, but their opening day win against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough is a standout moment.

Teddy Sheringham opened the scoring on 19 minutes, with Darren Anderton adding a second on the half hour. Sheffield Wednesday levelled the scores with Romanian wingback Dan Petrescu and an unfortunate own goal by Colin Calderwood. However, youngster Nick Barmby replied five minutes after the equaliser with a finish which belied his years and relative inexperience.

Then came the coup de grace from Klinsmann (who would later suffer a facial injury) with a graceful, well placed header. An immediate response from David Hirst made it 4-3, but a jittery Tottenham held out to savour victory in a fantastic curtain raiser.


John Hartson scored a brace on his debut as West Bromwich Albion embarked on a promotion mission, one which would ultimately fail at the hands of Derby County in the Playoff Final. Hull City had managed to defy all critics, surviving their maiden season of second tier action. However, The Baggies were never in any danger of an upset as they dominated almost the entirety of play, limiting Hull to pot-shots and half chances.

It was goalless at half time, but surely that would change in the second half. Change it did – before the hour mark, the deadlock was broken by Hartson when Nigel Quashie chipped in a beautiful cross for Hartson to finish past the brave Boaz Myhill.

A second goal came at the death with Quashie once again Hartson’s provider. The Scot held up play on the edge of the area and laid off the ball for Hartson to drill a shot into net and put an end to any hopes of a Hull revival.


A solitary goal from fresh faced Frank Lampard gave the Londoners in claret and blue something to shout about on the opening day of the 1999-2000 season. With simultaneous fixtures including Leeds vs Derby, Middlesbrough vs Bradford and Watford vs Wimbledon, neutrals were spoilt for choice on a day of pure emotion and limitless passion.

Although West Ham took their chance, it was Tottenham who dictated the pattern of play for periods of time, making sure that the derby against one of their most hated rivals was a true fight for bragging rights. A furious interchange of chances between such names as David Ginola, Marc Vivien Foe, Ledley King, Paolo Di Canio and Tim Sherwood made for a very entertaining and high octane first half with no let up.

In first half stoppage time, Lampard took the initiative, making himself available for Di Canio’s expert pass, and finishing with disquieting skill past goalkeeper Ian Walker. It was more of the same blood and guts in the second half, but The Hammers successfully held out to embrace a priceless derby day win.


Following two strong campaigns, everyone had Aston Villa as their dark horses for champions league qualification; Wigan hadn’t exactly set the world alight since their impressive debut (2005-06) season, so there was only one way this could possibly swing. Unfortunately for Villa, an empowered Wigan boasted the hidden talent of Colombian striker Hugo Rodallega and the versatile, evergreen Jason Koumas.

Wigan put the Midlanders in a world of misery over the course of the afternoon, and it was not even as if Villa exerted any significant pressure on the Wigan back line. The deadlock broke on the half hour when left back Nicky Shorey made a hash of a clearance, the ball falling to Hugo Rodallega who unleashed an early contender for “goal of the season” into the corner of Brad Friedel’s net.

A cacophony of boos serenaded Villa from the pitch at half time, and it got worse for the home side (who looked every inch the visitors) when Koumas made it 2-0 ten minutes into the second half. Charles N’Zogbia’s scorching run resulted in an expertly timed layoff to the onrushing Welshman who kept his nerve with a low finish past Friedel. This was the signal for the home fans to exit – but they needn’t have worried, because Villa won at Anfield a week later and finished 6th.


This was the day that a 17 year old Robbie Keane came of age to establish himself as an artful goalscorer, with such ability becoming regular in the years to come. Wolverhampton Wanderers never used to be a side many tipped for promotion back in the halcyon days of the mid to late nineties – and Carrow Road wasn’t a particularly easy place to go for a debut appearance on the road.

The fresh faced, youth level international stole the show on 34 minutes, when he unleashed an unstoppable volley past Andy Marshall to start Wolves’ three point heist in Norfolk. Although he had Keith Curle’s industry to thank for the opportunity, Keane took it like a fully fledged pro.

After the strike, Wolves held Norwich at bay, and Keane struck again just after the hour. Mark Atkins’ through ball, and taking on City defender Victor Segura, managed to fire low past Marshall for 2-0. A masterful performance by a once troubled Wolves team, who history will show went from strength to strength since Robbie Keane’s star turn at Carrow Road all those years ago.

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