Just a little bit of history repeating

Don’t worry, I’m not Shirley Bassey. It is, however, the final few months of the 2003/04 season and things have generally never been better for Darlington. European Qualification is on the cards, there’s a European Championships to look forward to and an English team is guaranteed to be in the Champions League final.  Let’s get on with it.

You know where we always stop first…

League Cup

LC Final 04These two sides are in the top half of the Premier League so it’s quite an even final, but as is so often the case Stefffen Iversen proves the difference. Yep.

FA Cup

We’ve already established Southport can’t retain their trophy but Chelsea, as the team top of the Premier League, must fancy their chances?

FA Cup SF resultsYou imbeciles. So it’s a Sheffield Wednesday/Blackburn final.

fa cup final 04David Johnson with the winner there, putting Sheff Wed into the Cup Winners Cup and next season’s curtain raiser. But who against?

Premier League

In a break from tradition I’m leaving the Champions League until last to bring you a thrilling finale to the Premier League. When I left you last time, Everton & Chelsea led the way with Man Utd clinging on. Coventry dish out a hammer blow for Everton

coventry 7 - 2 evertonWe’re still chipping away and get creditable draws at Everton and Chelsea. Man Utd though just keep on winning, and beat Chelsea to take the lead with one game remaining.

prem top last dayWith us guaranteed at least 4th, this represents a major stride forward for us and the UEFA Cup will be our playground next season. The final day fixtures mean I have an outside chance of that coveted 2nd Champions League spot if Chelsea and Everton fail to win

last day fixturesSo Manchester United just need to beat Peter Beardsley’s Middlesbrough to get the job done. Arsenal have been relegated under Matt Le Tissier, which is hilarious, which makes Chelsea’s job a bit easier.

prem last day resultsManchester United are held by Middlesbrough but Chelsea’s win means it comes down to goal difference. Third for Darlington is superb news.

prem top finalMeanwhile, as I mentioned, Arsenal are gone

prem bottom finalHuddesfield’s front two is Patrice Loko and Ole Solskjaer, which ultimately saved them. Somehow, Le Tissier is still employed.

Somebody who is not employed is Peter Smith, who resigns as Newcastle manager after they finish 20th in Division 2, just 3 points clear of the bottom 4.

smith resignsJimmy Nicholl gets the gig, but that club is wrecked.

newcastle appoint nichollChampions League

So in the all English/all Spanish Semi Finals, the stakes are high

CL SF resultsBarcelona don’t look likely to finish in the top 2 in Spain so really need this.Liverpool finished a lowly 15th so it goes without saying the final is winner take all.

CL Final 04Drama! Liverpool’s keeper is sent off with 3 minutes to go, but they bring on good old David James who saves the pen and Liverpool win the trophy. Scenes.

Real Madrid win La Liga from Deportivo, whilst Cagliari win Serie A. This is not a misprint. Bologna win the Cup Winners Cup too, setting us up nicely for Italy 2004.

Euro 2004

England have a typically lavish squad on the plane to Italy.

england squad 04Not sure why Phil Neville is deemed a star player yet on the bench. Barcelona’s Robbie Fowler leads the line.

It’s a strong start

spain 0 - 1 englandNeil Finn, of Real Madrid, proving his worth. It gets better…

england 3 - 1 czechsThat secures England’s place in the last 8 with a game to spare. Such is tradition, they lose to Sweden

sweden 2 - 1 englandNobody cares though. Northern Ireland stun Denmark thanks to an 89th minute winner from Neil Lennon and they join England in the last 8

Euro 04 groupsHolders France and hosts Italy looking very strong indeed

Euro 04 QF DrawOh my.

sweden 0 - 1 n irelandThat man Lennon at it again! They’re in the semis but will they face Italy or England?

england italy QFEngland knock out the hosts on penalties! So little between the teams they even scored in the same minute. Why Finn, the keeper, was taking England’s second pen I have no idea, but he made up for it by stopping/at least being in goal for 3 missed Italian penalties. Get in

Euro QF resultsIt’s a lot more routine for Holland, whilst France will take them on in the semis.

SF resultsNorthern Ireland have done themselves proud but the Semi finals are a step too far

NI 0 - 2 englandPhil Neville playing a blinder there. It’s France in the final – a repeat of 4 years ago

Euro 04 finalAntoine Sibierski scores the winning penalty and France win Euro 2004. Beckham and Campbell write their names into history, but then they were already quite famous anyway.

So with that, all that’s left is the awards

04 AwardsGraham Taylor retires…

graham taylor retiresFinally, my most loyal player retires. He’s been with me every step of the way from the Division 3 days and leaves us in the UEFA Cup. Steve Gaughan, I’ll miss you.

gaughan retires

With that, I will bid you farewell for another season. Join us next season though – Darlington are going on a European tour!

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