On this day in 2002: Sheffield United punished for ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’

PA Sport Staff
·2-min read

West Brom were awarded three points and a 3-0 win over Sheffield United on this day in 2002 as the fallout continued after ‘the Battle of Bramall Lane’.

Five days after Sheffield United’s Division One clash with West Brom had been abandoned by referee Eddie Wolstenholme, the Blades were left to deal with the repercussions of a shameful afternoon.

The match had started badly for Neil Warnock’s side after keeper Simon Tracey was sent off for handling outside his area with just nine minutes played, but events were to turn significantly more toxic.

Sheffield United v West Brom
Sheffield Utd captain Keith Curle argues while West Brom skipper Derek McInnes (right) receives treatment (Paul Barker/PA)

Scott Dobie’s diving header handed the visitors a first-half lead which was doubled by Derek McInnes’ 63rd-minute piledriver. Three minutes later, an already simmering encounter exploded.

Seconds after his arrival as 64th-minute substitute, defender Georges Santos launched himself into a two-footed tackle on Baggies midfielder Andy Johnson – Santos had suffered a fractured eye socket courtesy of the then Nottingham Forest player’s elbow during the previous season – and was dismissed, reducing the home side to nine men.

The incident sparked a mass brawl in which striker Patrick Suffo, who had joined the fray along with Santos, head-butted McInnes and also received his marching orders.

Sheffield United’s Patrick Suffo (left) becomes the third player to be sent off
Sheffield United’s Patrick Suffo (left) becomes the third player to be sent off (Paul Barker/PA)

Dobie’s second goal left the eight men 3-0 down with 13 minutes remaining, and their number was further reduced when Michel Brown limped off, soon to be followed by Rob Ullathorne.

Under the rules of football, Mr Wolstenholme little option but to, for the first time in a professional fixture in England, abandon the game with eight minutes remaining as the Blades had fewer than seven players on the pitch, in the process prompting a war of words between West Brom boss Gary Megson and Warnock.

Megson said: “I’ve been in professional football since 16 and I’m 42 now. I’ve never ever witnessed anything as disgraceful as that. There is no place for that in any game of football, let alone professional football.”

Football League disciplinary chiefs met on March 21 to review the so-called ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’ and ruled that the result should stand.

Sheffield United were later fined £10,000 for failing to control their players and Warnock and captain Keith Curle £300 and £500 respectively for improper conduct.

Suffo, who was fined £3,000 for violent conduct, and Santos were both banned for six games in total. Neither played for the Blades again.