In one of the most explosive and defining incidents of the Premier League era, it was 21 years ago today (doesn’t that make you feel old all of a sudden?) that Manchester United forward Eric Cantona launched himself over the advertising hoardings at a Palace fan who had heckling him from the terraces.
Cantona had just been sent off for a petulant kick on Palace’s Richard Shaw and, as he approached the tunnel, suddenly went for Palace fan Matthew Simmons with a two-footed kung fu kick like a big bloody maniac.
Here’s the magical Jonathan Pearce radio commentary just one more time…
United suspended their man for the rest of the season and fined him two weeks wages. Cantona was hauled up in court on a charge of common assault and sentenced to two weeks in prison, later reduced to 120 hours community service. The FA imposed a worldwide playing ban and fined him £10,000.
Without the influential Frenchman, United ended up losing the title by a single point to Blackburn Rovers.
At a press conference to announce the prison sentence had been reduced to community service, Cantona came out with his most famous quote: “When seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.” Nope, me neither.
However, the finest quote of the whole affair came from Palace fan Simmons, who claimed in court that he’d simply shouted: “Off you go, Cantona, it’s an early shower for you.”
…yes, and don’t dilly-dally on the way, pip pip.