The Worst in Football – The Battle of Bramall Lane

Sheffield United V West Bromwich Albion.  Division One. Bramall Lane. March 2002.

This match will be remembered as the “Battle of Bramall Lane” Sheffield United had three players sent off, two players walked off injured when all the substitutes had been used, so the referee Eddie Wolstenholme was forced to abandon the game as United went down to 6 men and West Brom were three nil up with less than 10 minutes left.

This game was always going to be a difficult one for the referee. The respective managers, Neil Warnock of Sheffield United and Gary Megson of West Bromwich Albion did not like each other. Both Managers were renowned for producing teams that were combative to say the least and neither manager was exactly shy.

The fuse for the battle of Bramall Lane was lit a year earlier when Andy Johnson, then a player for Nottingham Forest, smashed his elbow into George Santos’s face with such a force that George’s nose collapsed in on itself, and his eye was forced back into his fractured socket. A five hour operation followed, and a titanium plate was inserted into his face.

Despite Andy Johnson’s protestations of innocence. George Santos was very keen to sue Andy Johnson for the damage done and was probably up for a dose of his own retribution.

On the day of the game, Johnson lined up in midfield for West Brom and George Santos was one of the United substitutes. Inevitably, Santos came off the bench and within a minute had launched himself into a two footed, highly dangerous, very high tackle on Andy Johnson. Mr Santos was duly sent off and Patrick Suffo, quickly joined him in the dressing room, for a head butt. Simon Tracey, the United goalkeeper, had already been sent off. With all three Sheffield United substitutes on the pitch, Rob Ullathorne and Michael Brown hobbled off the pitch. So, with less than 10 min remaining, and United down to 6 men, the referee was forced to abandon the game.

Gary Megson, the Albion manager accused an unnamed member of the Sheffield United staff of encouraging their players to act injured in the knowledge that they get a game called off.”If we are called back to Sheffield, we will kick off, then walk off the pitch” he said after the game. “There will be no replay”. He was correct. The football league decided that the three nil result to Albion should stand.

To watch the “Battle of Bramall Lane” click on the link below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0BoDt23MeM

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