Norwich City 3-1 Nottingham Forest, 31 August 1992
The Canaries took on Forest in another action-packed instalment of Sky’s Monday Night football.
And they were joined by a special guest. British, European and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis was on the Carrow Road turf bringing his own hard-hitting analysis to Sky’s pre-match carnival.
“I like Not’num,” answered Lewis in his Canadian drawl as pitchside reporter Davie Provan sought his prediction.
The British public hadn’t quite warmed to the Canadian export. In boxing terms, Frank Bruno with his boyish charm and impeccable suits still commanded a place in their hearts.
Lewis, meanwhile, sporting flat-top hair and a multi-coloured monstrosity of a jacket, looked like he was auditioning for a role on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Richard Keys, unusually underdressed in a black suit for a man of garish tastes, took this fleeting moment to take the fashion high ground. As the camera panned back to the studio, he quipped: “Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis there. I’m not going to tell him that’s a silly cardigan.”
One club quietly punching above their weight was Norwich City. The perennial strugglers were tipped for another season of mediocrity under the penny-pinching ownership of chairman Robert Chase.
Having narrowly avoided relegation a season earlier, Chase decided to make changes. Dave Stringer was sacked and in his place came a far cheaper alternative, reserve team boss Mike Walker.
The new man was given even less to work with than his predecessor. The chairman flogged leading scorer Robert Fleck to Chelsea for £2.1m and replaced him with Manchester United back-up Mark Robins for £800,000.
Chase pocketed a few quid and Norwich were immediately installed amongst the relegation favourites. Job done.
Except something odd was happening in East Anglia. They were winning football matches. Lots of them. In fact, a win tonight would put them top of the Premier League.
There were no signs of shyness in front of the Sky cameras on this balmy Monday evening. With barely two minutes on the clock, Ian Crook curled home a delightful free-kick to put the home side in front. Crook was a rare breed. He made the art of playing centre midfield look seemingly effortless – mainly because he put very little effort in. Blessed with a right foot that could rewire your television, “Crooky” saw little reason to extend himself physically. He sauntered through the game, spraying passes aplenty and letting Jeremy Goss do the donkey work. It worked a treat.
Despite Nigel Clough’s equaliser, City went on to claim a 3-1 win, sealed by a sweet strike from the evergreen Dave Phillips. The Canaries were indeed flying high, whilst Forest were in freefall. They dropped to their fifth win in succession.
There were good signs at Old Trafford too. Following the elation of Dion Dublin’s last-gasp winner at Southampton, Manchester United were slowly starting to click. Forest were dispatched 2-0 before Palace arrived in Manchester. Once again it was a late strike, this time courtesy of the trusty boot of Mark Hughes, that secured the points.
United were winning ugly but there was still the suspicion that they needed an extra je ne sais quoi if they were going to be title contenders.
Chelsea 1-0 QPR, 29 August 1992
One side with no aspirations of silverware was Chelsea. And rightly so. The days when Hollywood actress Racquel Welch once chased Peter Osgood up the touchline at Stamford Bridge to get his attention, seemed a long time ago.
There was little beauty on show in SW6 this season. Under the Ian Porterfield regime, it was rotten fare down at Stamford Bridge. Vinnie Jones, Big Mick Harford and Dennis Wise were hurting or harassing anything that moved. It was enough to stack up the yellow cards, though Premier League wins were proving harder to come by.
Still, they kicked and fought their way to a win over west London rivals QPR. After 85 turgid minutes, Harford got a rare sight of goal and scuffed a volley apologetically towards the net. Rangers keeper Jan Stejskal had enough time to pop over to the Kings Road and get himself some new bootcut jeans, yet somehow he managed to let it trickle over the line.
Whole new ball game? My arse.
Ipswich 1 -1 Tottenham, 30 August 1992
One man who’d forgotten about the woes at the City Ground was Tottenham striker Teddy Sheringham.
After scoring the first televised goal in Premier League history, Sheringham had joined struggling Spurs in a £2.1m deal. He made his debut in a 1-1 draw at Ipswich that saw Jason Cundy score an outrageous fluke live on Super Sunday.
As Chris Kiwomya lost control of the ball, words that would be repeated often during his career, the ball fell kindly for the Tottenham central defender.
Rather than risk passing the ball to a team-mate, Cundy reverted to Plan A - ‘If in doubt, hoof it’ – and took aim at Row Z.
It was the sort of brainless clearance that had spawned a thousand throw-ins and defined his career. Only this time he got his bearings all wrong.
Rather than smashing it into the stands, Cundy had misjudged the howling wind at Portman Road. The ball curved dramatically in the air and Cundy’s face contorted in horror. Dread turned to delight as the wind carried the ball inexplicably some fifty yards over Ipswich keeper Clive Baker before nestling in the top corner.
After the 5-0 smashing at Leeds, Spurs had a point. It was a wretched, barely-deserved bastard of a point. But a point nonetheless.
They followed up that result with a 2-0 midweek win over Sheffield United at White Hart Lane. Sheringham and his new strike partner were both on the scoresheet. Sheringham had a reputation for making bang average players exceed lowly expectations. He’d done it with Tony Cascarino at Millwall and here he was doing it again.
Gordon Durie couldn’t be happier.