Dyer and Bowyer fought on pitch in an incredible season 15 years ago
Team-mates trading punches, a player wearing an electronic ANKLE TAG, the Special One… and Andy Johnson: Kieron Dyer vs Lee Bowyer was just one incident in an incredible 2004-05 season – so, can you remember who that very naughty boy was?
- It is 15 years since Newcastle team-mates Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer fought on the pitch against Aston Villa
- Also in 2004-05, one miscreant played with an ankle tag for Birmingham
- Chelsea won the title, breaking a 10-year Manchester United-Arsenal duopoly
- West Brom became the first team to survive having been bottom at Christmas
However, and whenever, the 2019-20 Premier League season ends, it will go down as the most remarkable campaign in the competition’s history, with football suspended for the first time since World War II due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
But prior to this unprecedented season, few Premier League campaigns had been as barmy as 2004-05, when conventions were ripped up and troublemaking footballers hit the front pages as well as the back.
On the first weekend in April, 15 years ago, Newcastle team-mates Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer were involved in an extraordinary fight with each other on the St James’ Park pitch as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat by Aston Villa. Referee Barry Knight sent off both players as punches were thrown and the fracas continued down the tunnel.
Newcastle midfielders Lee Bowyer (left) and Kieron Dyer (right) fight each other
Former Newcastle defender Steven Taylor, who missed the incident as he was already in the dressing room having been the first of three Magpies to be sent off that day, recalled the incident to Sportsmail‘s Craig Hope this week.
‘Suddenly, all I can hear is arguing coming towards the changing room. It was Dyer and Bowyer with two of the masseurs restraining them. Bowyer’s shirt was ripped and Dyer was saying, “Bow, you punch like a p***y”. I’m thinking, “What’s going on here?”
‘I thought Bowyer had had a fight with one of their players and Dyer had jumped in. I didn’t know what had happened until I saw it on TV and thought, ‘God, they’ve just saved me’. After the game, Alan Shearer came into the dressing room and said, “Right, you two, go and explain yourself to the press”.’
That was perhaps not even the most remarkable on-pitch incident of the 2004-05 season. That accolade probably belongs to former Birmingham winger Jermaine Pennant.
Pennant, who was on parole at the time after being released early from a three-month prison sentence for drink-driving, became the first ever Premier League player to wear an electronic ankle tag during a match.
The terms of Pennant’s release meant he had to wear the tag and not leave his home between 7pm and 7am, which allowed the Arsenal loanee to play in the Saturday afternoon kick-off against Tottenham. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Jermaine Pennant plays with an ankle tag on his left leg as Birmingham draw with Tottenham
While the Dyer-Bowyer and Pennant news punctuated the season, the main story was all about Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. Roman Abramovich had bought Chelsea in 2003 and appointed Mourinho as manager a year later as he pumped millions into the club to try and win their first title in 50 years, and only their second overall.
That would be no mean feat with Manchester United and Arsenal dominating English football in the 1990s and early 2000s. No team had broken that duopoly for 10 years since Blackburn’s title triumph in 1994-95, with United winning six titles and Arsenal three – the last of those coming the season before as they went unbeaten.
Chelsea won their first Premier League trophy under Jose Mourinho in 2005
But none of that fazed Mourinho and Chelsea as they ripped up the old order, the manager hailing himself as the ‘Special One’ before beating United on the opening day to set the tone and losing just once all season to finish 12 points clear of second-placed Arsenal on a new Premier League record tally of 95 points.
Things were being shaken up on Merseyside too in the 2004-05 season. Liverpool would famously win the Champions League in Istanbul after the most incredible European Cup final of all time, coming back from 3-0 down at half-time to win on penalties. Thankfully for Rafa Benitez that firmly plasters over an unwanted stat from his first season: Everton finished above Liverpool for the first time since 1987.
The gloss was taken off that achievement though for David Moyes’ fourth-placed side as next season they lost their Champions League play-off to Villarreal and had to sit back and watch the fifth-placed Reds defend their crown.
Everton celebrate Lee Carsley’s winner as they beat Liverpool in December 2004
2004-05 PFA TEAM OF THE YEAR
Petr Cech (Chelsea); Gary Neville (Manchester United), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Arsenal); Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Arjen Robben (Chelsea); Andy Johnson (Crystal Palace), Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
Down at the bottom of the table, there was a fittingly dramatic finish to a crazy season. Incredibly, no team had been relegated going into the final day, with West Brom, Southampton, Crystal Palace and Norwich separated by just two points and only one safety spot up for grabs.
Norwich went into the day safe but were thrashed 6-0 by Fulham and would be relegated along with Southampton, who lost at home to Manchester United. Palace were heading for safety with both them and West Brom leading in their matches, but a late equaliser for south London rivals Charlton sent the Eagles down. In staying up West Brom, under Bryan Robson, became the first Premier League team who had been bottom of the table at Christmas to avoid relegation.
There was a minor consolation for Palace though as their star striker Andy Johnson was named in the PFA team of the season, up front alongside Thierry Henry, having scored 21 goals in a relegation season. Another outlier stat in a season that bucked trends on so many levels.
Andy Johnson celebrates one of his 21 goals and Bryan Robson hails West Brom’s great escape
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