“We’re going to win 4-0 every week dad”

by Kevin Henning

14th August

1993 – Newcastle United 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 – The Toon Army Invade!
With the Premier League having kicked off in a blaze of glory and goals twelve months previously, the second season arrived with an exciting new arrival. Kevin Keegan had guided Newcastle United back to the top flight after being drafted in to prevent them dropping to the third tier. Having brought in the experienced Peter Beardsley and the young goal machine Andy Cole, Geordie fans were confident that the club could hold it’s own amongst the elite. They did far more than that.
St. James’ Park was packed to the rafters for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur and by kick off time, the place had reached fever pitch. Keegan sent his team out to a rapturous welcome but Teddy Sheringham scored the only goal of the game for Spurs. Despite this opening day disappointment, Newcastle blasted their way to a third place finish in their debut season.
For a time, Newcastle was one of the most feared grounds in the Premier League where as an away fan, you were almost guaranteed a (black and) white hot atmosphere coupled with an all out attacking home team. The huge banners that were passed along the stands, displaying cartoon magpies were visually stunning and Newcastle United were a most welcome addition to the Premier League.

2010 – Tottenham Hotspur 0 Manchester City 0 – An Italian Gives England a Goalkeeper.
Although not an opening day goal glut, this was nonetheless a significant day at the start of the 2010-11 season. Just a few months earlier, Spurs had won at Eastlands in what was almost a Champions League play-off. City gaffer Roberto Mancini knew that failure to make the top four for a second season would be a fatal blow to his employment in East Manchester and decisions had to be made before a ball had been kicked. Yaya Toure, James Milner, Mario Balotelli and David Silva had been brought in for big money but it was a player signed from Shrewsbury Town four years previously that would prove to be the ace in City’s pack.
Mancini knew that he had to select his number one before the curtain raiser at White Hart Lane. Shay Given, despite being seen as one of the very best around, had caused concern during the run-in of the 2009-10 season when his shoulder had suffered a serious injury with a few vital games left. Hart had returned from a season long loan at Birmingham City where he’d won the accolade of the Premier League’s top keeper.
On the day, Hart was given the nod and has never looked back. An outstanding display in North London that day prevented City from a real hammering with some truly miraculous saves. Shay Given must have known, sat on the bench that his City days were numbered. Tottenham ended the game frustrated to have only picked up a point but the day proved to be a winning one for England boss Fabio Capello who immediately installed Hart as the Three Lions keeper. The young keeper has never looked back from that day and is an automatic choice for club and country.

2010 – Wigan Athletic 0 Blackpool 4 – Seasiders coast it.
The Tangerine army arrived in the Premier League tipped by all and sundry to go back down in record time. They were viewed as the ultimate novelty club. A good day out on the lash at Bloomfield Road, a guaranteed six points, some soundbites from eccentric manager Ian Holloway and Blackpool to slip quietly out of the top tier. On the opening day of the season though, the Seasiders shredded the script. Playing an attractive, attacking brand of football, the newly promoted club ripped into their Lancashire rivals and made the Premier League sit up and take notice in the process.
Goals from Gary Taylor-Fletcher, a brace from Marlon Harewood and a fourth from Alex Baptiste saw Blackpool top the table briefly until Chelsea’s 6-0 demolition of West Brom that evening. Blackpool continued to play their open style of football throughout the season and took their survival to the last day of the season at Old Trafford where they led for a short while and looked set to escape.
The sceptics were ultimately proved correct as Blackpool failed to make it past their debut season in the Premier Leaue but the final table only told a part of the Seasiders’ story and the opening day blitz at a DW Stadium baked in glorious sunshine will live long in the memory of their supporters.