Chris Sutton has said that he had to hide in the toilets at Highbury to avoid the wrath of Arsenal players after his unsportsmanlike behaviour in 1997.
Blackburn had turned up at Highbury towards the end of the 96/97 campaign and the Gunners were winning 1-0, thanks to a goal by David Platt in the 18th minute, as the match drew to a close.
But controversy would strike before the full 90 were up as Garry Flitcroft sealed a dramatic equaliser for Rovers.
Speaking to Four Four Two, Sutton was asked why he locked himself in a toilet at Highbury after the game that took place almost exactly 21 years ago (19 April) . “Well that was Martin Keown,” Sutton answered.
“Blackburn were struggling in the league that season and were losing 1-0 going into the 90th minute. Back in those days, if an opponent kicked the ball out for an injury, you would give it them back. But Patrick Vieira was just sitting down on the pitch and when they kicked the ball out, we thought: ‘They’re time-wasting here’. I don’t know if I’m trying to make a case for myself?
“When we gave them the ball back we said: ‘Send it over Nigel Winterburn’s head and then we’ll chase it’, which wasn’t quite the done thing. I closed Nigel down, he put it out for a corner and then it all kicked off. In came the corner, Garry Flitcroft scored a cracking goal and all hell broke loose.
“All sorts of threats were being made so I played the last minute-and-a-half out on the left wing near the tunnel! When the final whistle went, I pegged it down the tunnel and they’re all coming after me, so I went back in the dressing room, thought: ‘Sod this’ and got in the toilet. That was the safest place for me!
“I got the blame for Arsenal not qualifying for the Champions League that season, but they still had another three games after us and dropped points against Coventry and Newcastle too. Maybe they should all have taken a little bit more personal responsibility – or defended the corner better – rather than just blaming me…”
Arsenal finished the 96/97 season in third place on goal difference, some seven points behind Manchester United (but 22 ahead of Tottenham who finished 10th).