How the first Premier League title was won

Tuesday 02 May 2023 13:00

After all the endeavour, hope and expectation, frustration, nerves and tension, Alex Ferguson was on the golf course when his Manchester United team ended the club's 26-year wait to win a league title.

While the Reds had moved a huge step closer to our Holy Grail with a midweek 2-0 win at Crystal Palace, nobody expected second-placed Aston Villa to slip up at home to Oldham Athletic on Sunday 2 May 1993.

It was the day before United's final home match of the 1992/93 season, on Bank Holiday Monday night against Blackburn Rovers, and there had still been talk that Ferguson's side could collapse under the weight of pressure, just as we had in the previous campaign amid a ridiculous fixture pile-up.

Dwight Yorke, the future United forward, holds off Craig Fleming during Villa's decisive defeat to Oldham.

Certainly many United fans were not yet taking anything for granted as Villa began the game that could have taken them to just one point behind the Reds.

Thankfully, Oldham midfielder Nick Henry scored the only goal of the afternoon at Villa Park as the visitors defied the 20 places between the teams to win 1-0.

Joe Royle's Latics side, who needed three wins from their last three games to have any hope of survival, somehow ended up escaping the drop, with Crystal Palace instead being relegated with Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest.

As Sir Alex later recalled, a stranger broke the news to him as he finished off his round on the golf course.

"A man came over the hill and said: 'Excuse me, Mr Ferguson, Aston Villa have been beaten. You are the champions.'"

The legendary manager added at the time: "It's the greatest achievement, the greatest moment of my football career.

"I'm proud of the players and really pleased for the chairman, the supporters and everyone connected with the club. Some of the people concerned have been connected with the club for all those [26] years and it's fantastic for them."

It meant that Monday's meeting with up-and-coming Blackburn Rovers, who would emerge as key rivals for silverware, would no longer be a tense affair at Old Trafford and instead become a party like no other.

"It will be a carnival atmosphere," predicted Ferguson, speaking the day before. "The place will be a cauldron. It will be a wonderful night."

And indeed it was. Despite falling behind to a Kevin Gallacher goal, efforts from Ryan Giggs, Paul Ince and Gary Pallister ensured a 3-1 victory and the most joyous of scenes unfolded at a delirious Theatre of Dreams. 

As Queen's We are the Champions belted out around the ground, Sir Matt Busby - the previous United manager to win a league title, back in 1967 - was in attendance to soak it all up on a truly memorable occasion.

Premier League 1992/93 videos:

  • United 3 Blackburn Rovers 1 Video

    United 3 Blackburn Rovers 1

    3 May 1993: With the league title in the bag, United finished the home campaign in style against Blackburn...

  • Crystal Palace 0 United 2 Video

    Crystal Palace 0 United 2

    21 April 1993: See how United took a huge step towards securing the title with victory over struggling Palace...

  • Coventry City 0 United 1 Video

    Coventry City 0 United 1

    12 April 1993: Denis Irwin gets the only goal to keep United on track for the title...

  • United 3 Chelsea 0 Video

    United 3 Chelsea 0

    17 April 1993: A commanding win over the Blues as the Reds marched ever closer to the Premier League crown...