Sunderland v Everton

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FA Carling Premiership 96/97 - Game 37
Saturday 3 May 1997
Roker Park, Sunderland

Result: Sunderland (1) 3 - Everton (0) 0
 Stewart (pen:36), Waddle (57), Johnston (68)

Sunderland: Perez, Hall (Johnston, 45), Gray, Ord, Bracewell, Ball, Howey, Stewart, Williams, Quinn, Waddle.
Subs Not Used: Woods, Smith, Kelly, Rae. Booked: None.

Everton: Southall, Barrett, Watson, Phelan (Hills, 86), Stuart (Ball, 71), Ferguson, Speed, Barmby, Thomsen, Branch, Dunne.
Booked: Ferguson, Speed.
Subs Not Used: O'Connor, Gerrard, Hottiger. Unavailable: Unsworth (suspended); Hinchcliffe, Grant, Short (injured).

Ref: Kieth Burge Att: 22,108 League Position: 15th Results and League Table

Previous Match: West Ham United v Everton -- Next Match: Everton v Chelsea

Match Summary

SoccerNet (Bob Cass, The Mail on Sunday):  Sunderland ended their 99-year stay at Roker Park with a victory that gives them hope of staying in the Premiership next season. A penalty by Paul Stewart and a free-kick from Chris Waddle, his first goal since returning to his home town club, put the Wearsiders into a commanding position which was made even more secure when Allan Johnston scored the third with his first goal.

But the ease of Sunderland's subsequent victory was in complete contrast with the struggle they had to subdue Everton who are still mathematically unsure of their destiny for next season. In fact, it was the Merseysiders who had made all the early running and might have punished an anxious looking home defence.

There was relief for Sunderland after 20 minutes when Claus Thomsen's back-header lead to an almighty scramble in the home goal area before the ball was cleared. Four minutes later, Sunderland had another escape when Lionel Perez brought off a brilliant one-handed save from Duncan Ferguson and then Gary Speed's shot was blocked before Nicky Barmby volleyed over the top.

But Sunderland were handed an astonishing gift goal 10 minutes before half-time when Ferguson handled a high cross from Michael Gray to give the home side a penalty which Stewart dispatched with a crisp right-footer. Ferguson was booked.

Sunderland were forced to bring on Johnstone at half-time for the injured Gareth Hall but the home crowd were ecstatic in the 57th minute when Waddle scored the second. Again the circumstances were uncanny with the experienced Neville Southall penalised for carrying the ball outside the penalty area. Waddle strode up and hammered a left-footer into the top right-hand corner.

Eleven minutes later, the veteran midfielder provided a pinpoint centre for Johnston to pounce at the far post with a header to make the points safe for Sunderland.

There were scenes of great emotion at the final whistle with the crowd greeting the players and then Sunderland manager Peter Reid. Roker Park has witnessed many historic scenes but if Sunderland stay up, few games would have carried more significance.

Getting it in the wrong end

Kristian Allen:  What can be said about football that hasn't been said already? There is one thing for sure: it totally dominates your life. If you win, your the happiest person alive. If you don't, God help anyone who comes near you and has a smart comment at the expense of you or your football team. The latter emotion summed me up yesterday at Sunderland.

The game had been long-awaited by the Sunderland fans. This was to be the last league game at Roker before they moved to their new stadium at Wearmouth - plus they were in a relegation dogfight. As you can imagine, emotions and passions were running high.

A packed Roker roared the two teams onto the park. It was an awesome sight to behold. The Everton players looked a little nervous, perhaps overawed by the occasion, and the noise of 22,000 Mackems screaming "Let's fuck these scouse bastards!"

However, Everton started the more positive side, with free-flowing football and under little pressure from Sunderland. The opening 25 minutes saw no significant challenge on either goal, most of the play being scrappy and untidy. Then a cross from the right by Phelan was met be Ferguson in the box. He knocked it back across goal. It had Perez scrambling across goal to make a fine save. That was the last decent chance we had.

This seemed to inspire Sunderland and they stepped up a gear. They were winning most 50/50 balls and Big Dunc was not as commanding as he normally is in the air. Then the moment came when the game started to go wrong….

A Sunderland attack saw a ball floated in from the left across the box by Chris Waddle. Big Dunc had tracked back to defend, but somehow and for some reason, he punched the ball away! What on earth was he thinking of? The result, a Sunderland pen. Paul Stewart stepped up and slotted home a great penalty into the bottom corner. The place went crazy !

It was a relief to hear the half time whistle.

At half-time we were entertained by a bunch of primary school girls playing a mini tournament. Mmmmm…. good entertainment, Sunderland! Some grounds have a band, others pom-pom girls, not Sunderland. The last ever league game at Roker Park commemorated by a bunch of 10-year-olds. How sad!

I looked forward to the second half. I felt we had the potential to come back, especially after the result at West Ham. However, it was to prove the longest 45 minutes of my life.

Sunderland came out even more determined than before and their defence worked hard, especially Michael Gray on the left. Then Nev somehow managed to step outside his box when kicking the ball from his hands. Either Nev is finally losing it or the linesman is a Mackem. The resulting freekick on the edge of the box saw Chris Waddle step up to shoot a thunderbolt into the top corner. Again the place went crazy. If there is one man who has wrecked our season, its Chris Waddle.

As you can imagine, the place was rocking and the Sunderland players and fans just ripped the piss. So much so that when Paul Stewart and Nick Barmby had a few words, Stewart stuck his finger up Barmby's arse. Very interesting! Also, one guy behind me also shouted at Barmby "what do you want to be went you grow up, you fucking umpalumpa!" I think that epitomised Nick's contribution to the game.

When Allan Johnston stooped to head in another Waddle cross 20 minutes from time, I wanted to die. Standing at the Clock end of Roker Park surrounded by the opposition supporters completely ripping your team to shreds isn't the best way to spend your Saturday afternoon.

The full time whistle went and that was that. Our humiliation was complete. Our fans trudged off while the Sunderland fans saluted their hero's. It was a fitting way for them to leave Roker. I just wish it had not been at our expense.

Player Ratings

Travelling support - 1 Didn't hear you once though there were a few Evertonians there. I couldn't really do any shouting from the Clock Stand. I think I would have been stabbed! We need better from you lads. Note: Everton supporters were in the open Farnworth end, so any sound they made was lost.

Not a good day out

Guy McEvoy:  That Sunderland have arranged a 'farewell to Roker' friendly with our not-so-loveable neighbours next month initially seemed like a Godsend. Having arrived at the ground a good hour before Kick-off I got the distinct feeling that this had detracted from the occasion. There was nowhere near the buzz you would have expected for an event of such magnitude. In part this is perhaps due to the very openness of Roker Park (our end was completely uncovered) not keeping the sound in or giving any echo.

The ground didn't really fill up until around five to three and the singing before hand, despite the best efforts of the bloke with the microphone (or maybe because of them) remained at a minimum. It all had a very mundane and ordinary Saturday afternoon feel to it.

There seemed at first to be no sense of the magnitude of the day for the home team both in terms of the end of a historic tradition and more importantly their divisional status in the immediate future. So I hoped that my theory that Sunderland, 'being spurred on by the expected historic feeling seeping round the ground would turn into Ajax for the afternoon' would prove to be bollocks.

First Half

So a surprisingly ordinary atmosphere preceded a surprisingly ordinary game, at least it did for the first half hour or so. Both sides started off with little sense of purpose, never really more than prodding at the opposition's defence.

Everton's best effort came towards the end of this equally matched spell when Phelan over-hit a cross after one of his determined runs, Ferguson ran backwards and managed to get a shot from a header that he somehow defied the laws of physics to connect with. It sent the ball arching over the Keeper who was, with a stretch, able to punch it out, Speed reacted first but his effort was blocked and this rebound was in turn reached first by Barmby but his Volley wouldn't stay down. With hindsight this wasn't only our best effort, it was also our one and only convincing attack of the entire game.

After that Sunderland began to turn it up. However, they still needed a little help from us to get them off the mark. A deep cross from Waddle, Ferguson jumps up, the whistle blows and a penalty is awarded for a handball. I didn't see the contact myself but the less than charitable reaction of some of those around me towards our much loved Scottish bean-pole suggested that the decision was fair enough.

Stewart stepped up slotted home, the crowd erupted and finally the atmosphere was starting to be deserving of the occasion except, of course, in the away enclosure where we resigned ourselves to expect worse to come and were happy to hear the half time whistle in the naive hope that this would give us the opportunity to reorganise.

Half-time entertainment was provided by a girls under-10 game played across the pitch. The girls, like most under-10s, played the 'headless chicken' game, hopelessly chasing the ball wherever it went, 'hopefully-hoofing' it whenever it got within touch, and with no concept of getting into space or positional play. I can only conclude that Watson got the team to watch this display during the break and told the lads, particularly in midfield, to go out and copy their system. The girls, by the way, did it better.

Second Half

The lack of anything by way of meaningful Everton play after the break led me to mull over the ground. I couldn't help but feel that the fond memories I have at my years of standing up seemed to be something of a false memory. I'd set off in the morning from the North West on a sunny day in Shirt-sleeves and sun-glasses, when I arrived in the North East it was overcast grey skies with a nip in the breeze.

I was cold, miserable, we were one-nil down and a freak set of half-time scores elsewhere just rubbed our noses in it. My knees were aching and the floor was hard under foot. This was not a good day out. I wanted a seat. A warm one. Why had I paid sixteen quid to stand in such discomfort?

Suddenly an incident distracted my train of thought, Southall had given away a free kick on the edge of the box; no one could work out why from where we were standing, too many steps or a hand-ball were the two mooted possibilities. Regardless of the reason, Chris Waddle stepped forward and with a slight curl smashed the ball home. It was the second best goal we've conceded all season (no prizes for guessing who scored the best).

Roker again erupted, I glanced across at the Terraces and watched the Sunderland fans enjoy the moment. It was then I remembered why I'd paid so much to stand up, and it was then I decided that my nostalgia wasn't completely false. I watched as they surged forward in a wave of joy, they jumped up and down, the hugging of strangers, the struggle to remain on their feet against the sway, the complete abandonment that takes over when the ball goes in the net.

That's what I remember about standing up, that was the feeling I wanted to relive, that was what my memory had held about the time in the terraces. That was why I'd willingly paid to stand. The thing is that the nostalgia part of my mind had led me only to remember how good it was when you're in the situation they're in and not what it's like when you're two-nil down with no hope after a long drive to a pit like Sunderland.

I'm not exaggerating when I say we had no hope. The midfield performance was so poor that it was a disgrace to the memory of the some of the combinations who have graced the royal blue jersey. Barmby, Thomsen, and Stuart were simply inept and even the usually reliable Gary Speed struggled to offer Everton anything more than a token tackle here and there.

Sunderland never looked a particularly good side but then they also never looked like being anything other than the winners which served to underline just how disappointing a trip it was. Stuart was put out of his misery by making way for Ball and latter on we got another glimpse of John Hills after Phelan had picked up a knock.

In between the changes Sunderland were able to do justice to the scoreline with another Waddle cross picked out by the head of their substitute. Cue the thousand or so Evertonians all digging out their programs finding the league tables and desperately working out the permutations. The periodic chants of 'going down' we'd treated them too earlier now completely dried up.

The final whistle was a relief and we trickled away (after being reduced to releasing our first genuine cheer of the afternoon for the Coventry result), the Sunderland fans stayed put, and sang their hearts out to the 'Cheer up Peter Reid' tune. I wonder what that one-time Everton general made of our performance in the middle today? Delighted with it I guess.

Individual Performances

A sad and depressing reflection

Neill O'Brien:  Having had time to reflect on yesterday's match and recover from the 3-hr drive back, I thought I would reflect on the main talking points of the game. Sunderland deserved their win, we were never really in the match.

  1. Ferguson when he handled the ball appeared to be pushed, which was the viewpoint of the Sunderland supporters. Saying this, I couldn't understand why his arms were in the air.
  2. Southall was a bag of nerves from start to finish, though we couldn't see the incident . I guess the linesman was right in giving the decision, the moment Southall kicked the ball the linesman flagged. Though I would like to see the evidence just to confirm this. The free-kick from this incident was taken on the wrong side of the box.
  3. The maximum number of steps a keeper can take is three, once he has gathered the ball. In the case of Perez, he would quite happily walk around the box before releasing the ball. Why do Refs NEVER blow for this blatant infringement of the rules?
  4. Ferguson appeared to be wound up all through the game and was fighting hard - its just a pity about Barmby, Thomsen, Stuart and Barrett. This was probably the worst performance that I have seen from Barrett all season.
  5. Watson's head dropped when we went one down, we needed him to motivate but it just was not there to give.
  6. Kristian Allen described the away support as poor. I would totally disagree, we tried to hard to get above the Roker crowd but were out-shouted. The crowd ratio was 22:1 - not exactly a fair criticism.
  7. The ticket allocation of only 1,010 for away fans was mystifying as there were big gaps to be found in the terracing were we were.
  8. The referee gave some strange decisions and missed some obvious fouls. Ball was on the end of a late challenge, which Ord owned up to, hoping not to get booked, but the referee just waved play on.

It was just going to be one of those days… I found the Sunderland fans were excellent before and after the game. It makes a refreshing change and the way it should be.

Reid stays on road to recovery

Derek Potter, Electronic Telegraph: THE curtain came down at Roker Park after 99 years yesterday, with Sunderland claiming the three points which should see them resuming next season in the Premier League at a new £15 million stadium yet to be named.

"I think this is the biggest game in Sunderland's history," said Peter Reid, a survivor of relegation struggles as a player with Manchester City, QPR and Southampton, before a game the Sunderland side he manages had to win to remain in the Premiership. But even the unflappable Reid, who rescued Sunderland from relegation in his first season as manager at Roker Park and took them up last season as First Division champions with Derby County and Leicester City, had a glazed look. It was the kind of game he would have loved to be playing in.

The tension in those who were on the Park showed against an Everton team that themselves needed six points from their previous four games to clamber out of the drop zone under the stewardship of caretaker player-manager Dave Watson. But a pitch like velvet destined to become a building site and the famous Roker roar was an encouragement to both sides.

There was some staunch defending by Sunderland in the first half, especially by Michael Gray, as Everton's menace grew. A spectacular overhead attempt by Duncan Ferguson after Terry Phelan popped up unmarked to cross on the left, was a grim warning of Sunderland's task.

Another cross by Phelan embarrassed the shaky Sunderland defence. Lionel Perez reached a Ferguson header and Nick Barmby really should have done better than drive over the crossbar from within the six-yard zone. A quick cross by Michael Branch then saw Ferguson wildly miscue his shot nearer the corner flag than the target.

Gray was behind Sunderland's first decent glimpse of Everton's goal, Paul Stewart's cross being jabbed wide by Niall Quinn, making his first start after seven months recovering from a knee injury. Sunderland's second glimpse produced a painful penalty for Everton. Quinn and Ferguson, two tall men, jumped together to reach a cross by Gray and the referee awarded a penalty for handling the ball against the Scottish striker, who was also cautioned. Roker Park erupted when Stewart's penalty kick thundered past Neville Southall to score what could be the goal that saved Sunderland.

The home side's second goal was equally contentious. Southall was penalised for handling the ball a yard outside his area, much to his obvious displeasure. Chris Waddle, a Sunderland fan as a boy, stepped up to drive a curving free-kick hard and high into the corner of the net 12 minutes into the second half for his first goal in Sunderland's colours.

Waddle was involved again as Sunderland added to Everton's sorry afternoon. Waddle's centre from the left with his right foot had a teasing accuracy and substitute Allan Johnston dived between two defenders to head a precious third. It was also his first goal for Sunderland.

Report Copyright The Electronic Telegraph

Waddle rouses Roker roar

Peter Cooper, The Sunday Times:  SUPPORTERS young and old yearned for memories of the last competitive match at Roker Park. Sunderland for once produced. And if these three points help keep the team in the Premier League, fans might even forgive manager Peter Reid. It was Reid, as player-manager of Manchester City, who condemned Sunderland to relegation in 1991, and he has felt the heat of Roker's fiercest ever since. This time, said Reid, he felt, "a genuine warmth".

Some of it, certainly, was generated by nostalgia as Roker's years of football came to an end, except for a friendly match with Liverpool ­ the first visiting club to play there 99 years ago. Much of the rest came from Chris Waddle. A win to equal Sunderland's two biggest all season ­- and complete a double over the club with whom Reid triumphed as a player -­ was produced most of all by Waddle, a boyhood Sunderland supporter come home at 36.

Waddle scored the second goal after 57 minutes with a free-kick over a wall of defenders and into the top corner. Then he made the third, substitute Allan Johnston's first Sunderland goal, with a left-wing cross, in the 68th minute. The telling goal, though, was a 35th-minute penalty. It unglued Everton as they threatened their first win at Roker since 1984. They did not like the makings of the penalty or the second goal and they might have a case.

Duncan Ferguson, targeted by long Everton clearances and used to help defend set-pieces, mysteriously handled a Michael Gray cross high up at arm's length. Ferguson insisted he was pushed by Niall Quinn but was booked for protesting before Paul Stewart put away the penalty.

Sunderland were next helped from the most unexpected quarter. Goalkeeper Neville Southall was deemed, by the linesman, to have held the ball outside his area when clearing. He contested the decision, but the referee gave a free-kick and Waddle did the rest.

Dave Watson, Everton's temporary player-manager, admitted the penalty put heads down and the Southall decision did the rest. Everton still need a point to be sure of avoiding relegation, when they might have had three yesterday. While Sunderland were still banking hopefully on Waddle thinking of something, the Merseysiders had begun to control the game.

A Nick Barmby corner demanded a flying catch by Lionel Perez, inches in front of Ferguson's forehead. One cross by Terry Phelan prompted a Ferguson volley. Another inspired an acrobatic header twisted back by Ferguson from beyond the far post. Perez leapt to save one-handed and Barmby hit the rebound inches too high.

Unfortunately Everton were unprepared for Waddle. Too late they recalled his FA Cup goal against them for Bradford City. His free-kick surely settled matters, but, as if to make sure, Waddle supplied the cross for Johnston.

Ten years ago, the late Raich Carter, a Roker Park icon, predicted Sunderland would not play First Division football this century. Sunderland were promoted, relegated and promoted again. The First Division turned into the Premier League. But if Carter meant sustained top quality, whatever the label, he could still be right.

Report Copyright The Sunday Times

Waddle ensures that Roker roars into history

David Maddock, The Times:  AS OLD blokes go, this one was an absolute classic. Flat cap (no, really), creased face, curmudgeon's conversation. "I've seen the lot of them here, like. Len Shackleton, Charlie Hurley . . . and now this lot," he opined. "It's a good job they're closing the bloody place down."  Ninety-nine years of tumultuous history ended at Roker Park on Saturday as Sunderland said goodbye to the famous old stadium with a victory. Even the defeat of Everton, however, could not disguise the supporters' lack of faith.

After much throat-clearing, the Roker roar was eventually given full hair-raising voice, but only after Sunderland scored a rather fortunate opening goal. Before that the old ground was as silent as any of those modern, shiny, sterile constructions that are springing up all over the country these days and calling themselves home. The reason was simple. For all the passion of Sunderland's incredible support, they do not have any belief in this team of journeymen. How can they roar with conviction for a side for whom the leading scorer has managed a feeble four goals?

Peter Reid's team could yet sneak to safety in the FA Carling Premiership. This was a good win and, if they can repeat the trick next Sunday at Wimbledon, they will be safe. But for how much longer?  There is no money at Roker Park, which is why they are leaving. And yet, if they go to their sanitised new stadium, how can they prosper when all that has stood between them and doom this season is the passion generated in their tight little ground?

I have sat halfway back at a sellout Old Trafford, with its executive boxes and executive supporters, and heard every word the players have uttered on the pitch. Is this the future Sunderland want? This is the dilemma that faces all football clubs in the 1990s. The pursuit of money could remove the one thing that makes the support so attractive to the money men of television in the first place ­ atmosphere.

There is no use carping, however. Sunderland have closed their ears to the Roker roar and at least they did so by offering up one more memory, one more ghost to float around the housing estate to be constructed on the site over the summer.  For 36 minutes the celebration was muted as Everton suggested, through chances for Ferguson and Barmby, that the last game at Roker was to be a huge anticlimax. Then Chris Waddle, aided by some eccentric refereering, provided a fitting end to those 99 years.

Waddle watched from the Fulwell End as a boy. On Saturday, he floated a glorious free kick into the top corner of the net at that end after 57 minutes for the second goal, which allowed the party to begin. Later, he crossed from the left for Johnston to head the last competitive goal at Roker Park.

Afterwards, Reid admitted that it was not pretty and that fortune had favoured his side when Keith Burge, the referee, gave a penalty, which Stewart converted, after Ferguson had handled only because of a push by Quinn. He took such fortune as a good omen, though.

"I'm almost convinced we will stay up now, I've just got a feeling," Reid said. "It was an important win, but enjoyable? That wouldn't be the right word." There was a certain elderly gentleman cursing his way from Roker Park on Saturday who would agree with that.

Which way on the money trail?

Michael Walker, The Guardian:  Early May one year ago: Sunderland, leading the first division, are on the verge of the Premiership, and the local evening paper catches the mood of anxious anticipation with an editorial about 'the word that dare not speak its name': promotion. Soon, though, the paper's caution is allayed as Peter Reid's motivational qualities inspire a gang of under-achievers to reach the top flight. Everything is changed, optimism flows, and money is talked.

Twelve months on and pessimism, and all too frequent visitor, is back. Money is still being talked, yes but in the context of relegation, a word that dares speak itself loudly.

What, every Sunderland fan wishes to know, became of the 10 million pounds burning a hole in the chairman's mattress? And why, if the readies have been available, has Reid not spent them? Surely the absence of Niall Quinn from September through April necessitated the purchase of another centre-forward?

As long as Sunderland have had a sniff of survival the questions have remained unasked, but not even the atmosphere of touching nostalgia at Roker Park's last ever league game could mask a growing unease about the club's situation. The mood will not be phlegmatic if if they go down.

Asking supporters to pay a fiver to have their name in the final programme was therefore not perhaps the most tactful ploy. Only 364 mugs fell for it. The 1,820 pounds garnered probably covered Chris Waddle's day-rate but nobody at Roker Park on Saturday would have begrudged that as Waddle, since his 75,000 pounds arrival from Bradford six months ago, has been involved in every goal Sunderland have scored.

He capped that contribution with a stunning free-kick, appropriately in front of the Fulwell End where he once stood with his father, but there was little sentimentality in his tone afterwards. 'I didn't even know it was a free-kick', he said. It was one of those strange decisions by the referee reacting to a linesman's flag after Southall carried the ball inches outside his area, and it was Keith Burge's second such of the afternoon.

The first changed the game when Sunderland were given a 36th-minute penalty after Ferguson handled; the fact that Quinn had blatantly handled the Scotland striker was ignored.  Stewart put the penalty away to become the season's joint-top scorer with four goals, and someone in the main stand threw a wig in the air at that; so what happened after Waddle's belter and Johnson's third -- the last goal at the ground -- is anybody's guess.

Everton who had looked the only winners until the penalty, finished well beaten and are still not quite safe; and, Sunderland fans should note, the Merseysiders have spent freely.

Roker: Relegation Revistted?

Simon Turnbull, The Independent:  When the famous roar was already a fading echo, and Roker Park had passed into history, Peter Reid was reminded that he had been this way before.

In his programme notes, the Sunderland manager recalled playing at Roker 'as a teenager in front of more than 60,000 fans.' Such was the roar in the days before the giant Roker end was cut down to modest size, it must have seemed to the young Bolton Wanderer that more than 51,983 were packed in when Tony Towers and Pop Robson scored the goals which secured promotion for Sunderland on Easter Monday in 1976.

But relegation has become as synonymous with Sunderland as Roker itself, and Reid's recall of the most recent demotion was more accurate. He was manager of Manchester City that day in the 1990-91 season, when two goals by his record Sunderland signing, Niall Quinn, and one by David White consigned the Wearsiders to second-class football with a 3-2 defeat at Maine Road.

'I knew someone would bring that up,' Reid said on Saturday after a victory which earned his side a fighting chance of beating the drop. 'I couldn't believe the number of Sunderland fans at Maine Road that day. Their support was a big influence on me taking the job here. They deserve to see Premiership football.'

Some 15,000 red and whites invaded Moss Side for that tearful denouement, and 12,000 are expected at Selhurst Park next Sunday. In Reid's estimation, they will be celebrating survival when the turnstiles open a week tomorrow for the official Roker Park farewell match against Liverpool. 'I'm almost convinced,' he said.

Rokerites, eternal pessimists, are not so sure. Sunderland could lose to Wimbledon and stay up but could win and still go down. Yet another last-day let-down would not be entirely unexpected.

If the Wearmouth stadium does play host to Bury and Stockport after being christened by Ajax on 30 July, the 7 million pounds Reid has left unspent from his 10 million pounds kitty will have been a false economy. Yet if Manchester United and Newcastle appear on the fixture list, the 275,000 pounds Reid invested in Lionel Perez and Chris Waddle will have paid rich dividends.

Perez was again Sunderland's saviour on Saturday, when Everton threatened to exploit their nervous start, while Waddle was the match-winner with the scoring free-kick and the cross for Allan Johnson's headed goal after Paul Stewart's first-half penalty.

Stewart informed Reid on Saturday night that he will not serve the remaining year on his contract because his wife and children do not want to uproot from their Blackpool home. Waddle's contract terminates when the final whistle blows on Sunday. But in the month he has spent with the club he once supported, the veteran entertainer has shown that, at 36, he still has much to offer the Premiership.

Results and League Table

Thursday, 8 May 1997

BLACKBURN ROVERS        0-0    MIDDLESBROUGH             27,411

MANCHESTER UNITED       0-0    NEWCASTLE UNITED          55,236

Wednesday, 7 May 1997

LEICESTER CITY          1-0    SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY       20,793
Elliott (86)

Tuesday, 6 May 1997

WEST HAM UNITED         0-0    NEWCASTLE UNITED          24,617

WIMBLEDON               2-1    LIVERPOOL                 20,016
Euell(43) Holdsworth(55)       Owen(74)

Monday, 5 May 1997

MANCHESTER UNITED       3-3    MIDDLESBROUGH             54,489 
Keane(34) G Neville(42)        Juninho(15) Emerson(37)
Solskjaer(67)                  Hignett(40)   

Saturday, 3 May 1997

ARSENAL                 0-1    NEWCASTLE UNITED          38,179 
                               Elliott (44)
CHELSEA                 0-0    LEEDS UNITED              28,277  

COVENTRY CITY           1-2    DERBY COUNTY              22,839  
McAllister(pen:59)             Rowett(49) Sturridge(67)
LEICESTER CITY          2-2    MANCHESTER UNITED         21,068  
Walsh(16) Marshall(20)         Solskjaer(45,51)
LIVERPOOL               2-1    TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR         40,003  
Collymore(15) Berger(43)       Anderton(5)
MIDDLESBROUGH           3-2    ASTON VILLA               30,074  
Ravanelli(20,pen:90) Beck(34)  Ehiogu(58) Milosevic(77)
NOTTINGHAM FOREST       1-1    WIMBLEDON                 19,865  
Roy(59)                        Leonhardsen(16)
SOUTHAMPTON             2-0    BLACKBURN ROVERS          15,247  
Slater(22) Le Tissier (74)
SUNDERLAND              3-0    EVERTON                   22,108  
Stewart(pen:36) Waddle(57) Johnston(68)
WEST HAM UNITED         5-1    SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY       24,960  
Kitson(5,13,89) Hartson(30,67) Carbone(82)

Table after 8 May 1997

Team                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD  Pts
MANCHESTER UNITED            37   20   12    5   74   44   30   72
Liverpool                    37   19   10    8   61   36   25   67
Newcastle United             37   18   11    8   68   40   28   65
Arsenal                      37   18   11    8   59   31   28   65
Aston Villa                  37   16   10   11   46   34   12   58
Chelsea                      37   15   11   11   56   54    2   56
Sheffield Wednesday          37   14   14    9   49   50   -1   56
Wimbledon                    37   14   11   12   48   46    2   53
Tottenham Hotspur            37   13    7   17   43   49   -6   46
Derby County                 37   11   13   13   44   55  -11   46
Leeds United                 37   11   12   14   27   37  -10   45
Leicester City               37   11   11   15   42   52  -10   44
Blackburn Rovers             37    9   15   13   40   39    1   42
West Ham United              37   10   12   15   39   46   -7   42
Everton                      37   10   12   15   43   55  -12   42
Southampton                  37   10   11   16   50   55   -5   41
Sunderland                   37   10   10   17   35   52  -17   40
Middlesbrough                37   10   11   16   50   59   -9   38* 
Coventry City                37    8   14   15   36   53  -17   38
Nottingham Forest            37    6   16   15   31   54  -23   34

* Includes 3 pts deducted from Middlesbrough for illegal match postponement  

This League Table Update provided by Lawrence "Leagueman" Breakey

This Match Report Compilation was prepared by Michael Kenrick for Marko Poutiainen. 8 May 1997.