When we played a cup match twice, and the bits of the story not often reported

Tony Attwood
13 February 1999 and 23 February 1999 – the time when Arsenal played  Sheffield Utd twice in the cup, with neither game being a draw.
It was the match in which Kanu received a Ray Parlour pass after a break in play for a Sheffield player to get treatment.   Kanu passed to Overmars who scored on 76 minutes.
The tradition in English football was that if a player was down injured by the ref would not stop the game, the ball would be put out, the player treated, and then from the throw in the ball would go back to the goal keeper of the team that had been attacking at the time, and the game would thus resume.
But (and this is a point that no newspapers at the time mentioned, as far as I know) it is not a convention in all leagues.  Indeed I think the English leagues are among the very few that follow this “rule”.
Anyway, the procedure was expected to be followed when Sheffield United’s goalkeeper Alan Kelly, kicked the ball out of play so that Lee Morris could get  treatment.   Arsenal, via Kanu and Overmars scored from the throw in.  You can see it at here
Arsenal had committed no offence, but Steve Bruce, the manager of Sheffield then ordered his players off the pitch – itself a most serious offence.  Amazing the referee took no action (Bruce should have been sent to the stand and each player booked for leaving the pitch without permission).  There was no punishment for this.
Arsene Wenger defused the problem by offering to play the game again, and the FA agree – and that bit is normally told in the stories.  What is missed (along with the Bruce activities in stopping the match), is the fact that ticket prices were then halved by Arsenal for the replay.
38020 had attended the first match, and a suggestion had been made in a newspaper that the replayed match would have money given to charity.  As is the norm with such stories the paper suggested the move was being considered, but it wasn’t.   The paper just made it up.

However Arsenal’s directors did meet to consider what to do about the finances of the game, once the Football Association had accepted Arsene Wenger’s offer that the tie should be played again, even though Arsenal had broken no FA rule, although S Bruce had.

The Arsenal announcement said, “It was decided that any concessions should go to the supporters. We will now be selling tickets at half the normal prices for the replayed match.”

Arsene Wenger also said that he was certain Kanu did not deliberately break the rules of football ethics – a claim that was given credence through it being Kanu’s first match.

The FA finding themselves now outside events that they were supposed to control had no option but to agree with Mr Wenger’s plan.  But they then came up with a twist of their own.

The original match would not count in terms of records of matches won and lost, nor would the result stand, of course.

But the game would count in terms of disciplinary records – a bizarre situation.  It had been a rough and tumble affair, with five Sheffield United players (Shaun Derry, David Holdsworth, Ian Hamilton, Graham Stuart and Marcelo) being given yellows, with any of them likely to be facing a red as United got more and more worked up – and indeed with all of them facing reds for not playing on when ordered by the ref.

Arsenal got no yellows, but Emmanuel Petit missed that game as one of his three match suspension games, and that counted as one of the three.  Having served his time he was ready for the re-match if selected.

Here’s Arsenal’s progress in the cup that season

Round Date Against (venue) Result
Round 3 4 Jan 1999 Preston NE (a) Won 4-2
Round 4 24 Jan 1999 Wolverhampton (a) Won 2-1
Round 5 13 Feb 1999 Sheffield U (h) Won 2-1
Round 5 replay 23 Feb 1999 Sheffield U (h) Won 2-1
Round 6 6 March 1999 Derby C (h) Won 1-0
Semi final 11 April 1999 Manchester U Drew 0-0
Semi final replay 14 April 1999 Manchester U Lost 2-1

The Anniversary Files now contain over 2500 entries

The Books

Books on Arsenal at a discount


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *