With average attendances now 50% higher than in the opening season (from 21,131 in 92-93 to 35,767 so far this season), the Premier League is more popular than ever. On such a momentous occasion, PlayUp looks back on some of the Premiership’s most memorable moments.
David Beckham scores from the halfway line
Under the glorious sunshine on the first day of the 1996/97 Premier League season, David Beckham became something of a household name when he scored a spectacular goal in a match against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. With United leading 2–0, Beckham’s now notoriously sharp vision (and equally proficient right foot) noticed that Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan was off his line. In an act of complete audacity, Becks hit a shot from the halfway line that floated over Sullivan and left him in a heap in his own net.
Blackburn beat Manchester United to the title on the last day of the season
The 94/95 season ended an 81-year run without an English league title for Blackburn Rovers, and they did it in truly nail-biting fashion. Rovers led the way for most of the season, but when they lost 2-1 to Kenny Dalglish’s old club Liverpool, it looked all but over for them. But it wasn’t until the Blackburn faithful who had travelled to Anfield received news that challengers Manchester United had only managed a draw at West Ham, that the celebrations began as Blackburn won the league by just one point.
Bergkamp’s Goal of the Month hat-trick
Dennis Bergkamp was arguably one of the most talented forwards in Premier League history. His record of 87 goals in 312 appearances for Arsenal was not the most prolific, but some of the goals he did chip in with were sheer works of art. Bergkamp also has 95 assists in Premier League history, more than any other Arsenal player. On 23 August 1997, the Gunners faced Leicester away at Filbert Street, where Bergkamp was to score a trio of Goal of the Season worthy goals. His hat-trick was so good, it won first, second and third places in Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month competition.
Liverpool concede a goal to a beach ball
Despite being on the coast, the breezy northeast would probably be one of the last places you’d expect to find an abundance of beach-going equipment. But Liverpool’s 2009 trip to the sunny Sunderland was blighted in the fifth minute of the match when Darren Bent fired against a Liverpool-branded beach ball, completely bamboozling Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina — who went for the wrong ball.
It wasn’t the most glamorous of finishes to a spellbinding 2003/04 season for Arsenal, but a 2-1 win over relegated Leicester was enough to record the most successful Premier League season in its history. The Gunners completed an entire Premiership season without losing a single game and finished it with a record of 26 wins, 12 draws and no defeats after a second half comeback against Leicester on the final day of the season. The only other side to have achieved such a feat was Preston, who completed a season undefeated in the inaugural season of the Football League in 1888/89.