Throwback Thursday: The Final Day Of The Premier League Season (May 7th, 1994)

Soccer Features
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The last day of the Premier League season is almost always frantic and nerve-wracking, with countless fans—particularly of those clubs struggling to avoid relegation—trying to keep track of ten simultaneous matches in an excruciating game of emotional ping-pong. While the stakes on the final day aren’t always exactly the same every year, they can include: the title, the top 4 spots, Europa League qualification, and relegation. For many devoted fans, it ends up being one of the best days of their lives— or one of their worst.

The 1993-94 Premier League looked very different from the one we know today. It featured 22 teams rather than 20 with a 42 game season (not 38), and featured teams who have been largely absent from the top flight since, like Swindon Town, Oldham Athletic, Ipswich Town, and Sheffield United. Blackburn Rovers were not only in the top flight but genuine title contenders, while the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City were lower mid-table clubs (at best).

What did make that season memorable was the drama that unfolded on the final day.

With Manchester United having run away with the title and European qualification more or less settled early, the big story of the day was the race to avoid the drop. Six clubs battled to escape the two remaining relegation spots— Manchester City, Everton, Southampton, Ipswich Town, Sheffield United, and Oldham Athletic. (Swindon Town had already been relegated a few weeks prior after a dismal season.)

The day’s action was frenzied and gut-wrenching, with the bottom of the table shifting after each goal. In the end, Oldham Athletic and Sheffield United were the unlucky ones. The case of the latter was particularly heartbreaking for supporters— they started the day four places above the red line and only needing a draw at Chelsea to guarantee safety, and appeared on course to seal the deal as they held a 2-1 lead late on. But Chelsea’s two goals in the last 15 minutes—including the stoppage time game-winner—sent the Blades out of the Premier League. They’ve only re-emerged for a single season since.

Other stray observations: the Park End Stand at Goodison under construction, Stamford Bridge bookended by parked cars at one end and a massive blue wall at the other, ad boards promoting several companies you’ve probably never heard of (McDonalds and SEGA notwithstanding), ball boys at Stamford Bridge visibly celebrating goals from the home side (one of them almost invading the pitch!), and an ad for something called a “Blues Cruise” (apparently for the fan who always wanted to have cocktails on the bridge of a ship with Mark Stein).

The final day of this Premier League season kicks off Sunday with two matters to settle— Europa League qualification (Liverpool, Tottenham, Southampton) and relegation (Newcastle, Hull). All ten matches will be aired across NBC-owned networks (check your listings!) with every match kicking off at 10am EST.