Football nostalgia: Trio of opening-day heroes to remember

Brian Deane scoring first Premiership goal.
Brian Deane scoring first Premiership goal.
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YORKSHIRE may, sadly, have no Premier League representative to fly the flag at the seasonal curtain-raiser in August, but a medley of memories from the opening day of the top-flight season in years gone by remain.

Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Leeds United, Bradford City and Middlesbrough have all been involved in some choice entries. Here’s a look at some of the best.

Robbie Keane celebrates his goal against Manchester City.

Robbie Keane celebrates his goal against Manchester City.

1992: Sheffield United 2 Manchester United 1.

A sweet win for Dave Bassett’s Blades and a little piece of history for Brian Deane in the process, with the striker firing the first goal in Premier League history.

Deane subsequently netted a winner from the spot for the Blades after Mark Hughes had equalised for the Red Devils.

But Deane’s magic moment early on is the one that is etched in the record books and it came at 3.05pm on August 15, 1992 when his instinctive header put the Blades in front, the move starting when home goalkeeper Simon Tracey cleared a back pass deep into Manchester United territory, with visiting defender Gary Pallister heading the ball out for a throw-in.

Fabrizio Ravanelli.

Fabrizio Ravanelli.

Carl Bradshaw’s long throw was arrowed in the direction of veteran Alan Cork at the near post and he flicked on a header and Deane reacted quickest to head home.

The Yorkshireman said: “Whatever happens, wherever I am, that will be the one moment fans all over the world will remember me for.

“It was a fantastic feeling and even to this day people remind me of it – and it’s now a classic quiz question, too.”

The Blades had to wait almost a month for their second seasonal win, a 1-0 success over Liverpool thanks to Adrian Littlejohn’s early opener, and they went onto turn over Manchester United 2-1 in the FA Cup in February, 1993 thanks to goals from Jamie Hoyland and Glyn Hodges.

1994: Sheffield Wednesday 3 Tottenham 4.

The Klinsmann dive celebration was given its first airing by the German striker, after his move from Monaco.

It was the headline moment from a pulsating encounter at Hillsborough with Spurs taking the lead when Darren Anderton’s right-wing cross found its way to Teddy Sheringham, who netted with an effortless, clinical low finish with the outside of his foot.

A lovely interchange between Sherringham and Anderton led to the latter coolly doubling the lead for Ossie Ardiles’s side.

After the interval, Dan Petrescu side-footed home after Chris Bart-Williams’s corner was only half-cleared to give the Owls hope.

An attempted block by Colin Calderwood under pressure from Bart-Williams then drew the hosts level, only for the see-saw action to continue with Sheringham supplying Nick Barmby, who raced away before firing past Kevin Pressman.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s marquee moment in front of the Kop arrived when he clinically headed home Anderton’s cross after giving Des Walker the slip, the prelude to his classic celebration.

A terrific volley from David Hirst pulled one back for the Owls, with the striker latching onto Ian Taylor before firing home ahead of Klinsmann colliding with Walker to end his match prematurely.

1996: Middlesbrough 3 Liverpool 3.

It was shirts over your head time at the Riverside as Fabrizio Ravanelli made his Boro debut and marked it with a hat-trick.

The ‘White Feather’ took on Liverpool’s ‘Spice Boys’ and nearly came out on top. That proved to be the case in the season overall as he scored 16 goals but failed to stop Boro going down.

It looked like Liverpool would hold out for three points going into the final 10 minutes, only for Ravanelli to expose the visitors’ soft underbelly and level to clinch a remarkable hat-trick in front of a record Riverside crowd.

Liverpool took an early lead after Derek Whyte was penalised for a foul on Robbie Fowler and John Barnes’s floated free-kick was fired home by Stig Inge Bjornebye past Alan Miller.

Boro levelled when Mark Wright was harshly adjudged to have brought down Juninho in the box with £7m man Ravanelli paying back the first instalment of the fortune it took to lure him from Juventus to Boro – ahead of his trademark bare-chested celebration.

The shift-workers on the giant tanker docked behind the north stand celebrated too, waving a banner which announced: “Boro’s Ravanelli on the telly”, only for hosts Middlesbrough’s defensive shortcomings to be exposed again within four minutes.

Jason McAteer crossed from the right and, while the Boro rearguard dithered, Barnes trapped the ball on his chest and directed a shot past Miller.

Once again, though, Liverpool were pegged back with Neil Cox’s inviting low cross from the right converted by the outstretched left foot of Ravanelli.

On the restart, Boro fell behind for a third time, with Bjornebye supplying the left-wing cross and the lurking Robbie Fowler applied the inevitable finish at the far post. But Ravanelli was not to be denied.

1999: Middlesbrough 0 Bradford City 1.

Substitute Dean Saunders created history by becoming the first Bradford City player to score in the Premier League, with the Welshman giving the Bantams a late win on Teesside.

Saunders did not think his international registration would be completed in time for him to play following his free transfer from Benfica, but arrive it did, with the goal-poacher classic ‘old man with a walking stick’ celebration lapped up by the claret-and-amber hordes.

He came on as an 76th-minute substitute and struck just six minutes later, converting Lee Mills’s pass.

Ecstatic manager Paul Jewell said: “Dean has played at the highest level most of his life and I knew he was the sort of personality who could nick us a goal.

“He trained with us for the first time on Friday, but he was very fit and very keen.”

2002: Leeds United 3 Manchester City 0.

The reign of Terry Venables could not have started any better for United, who eased past their Roses rivals Manchester City.

Goals arrived from Nick Barmby, outstanding on his debut, Mark Viduka and substitute Robbie Keane ensuring that Leeds coasted to victory, in what ultimately proved to be one of the few high points in the troubled tenure of the Londoner.

It was Venables who prevailed in the much-hyped battle of the England managers, with Kevin Keegan’s City being second best throughout.

Barmby scored the opener after 15 minutes, getting to a deep cross from Lee Bowyer ahead of Carlo Nash and firing home.

Viduka grabbed the second on the stroke of half-time and Keane sealed it with a cool late lob to seal a fine afternoon’s work for Leeds.