EVEN as the sun enters its ruinous red giant period and engulfs our planet, people will be debating whether the Community Shield should a) count as a proper game and b) as a proper trophy. Whether you like your curtain raised traditionally or not, the latest episode of The Shield will take place on Sunday at Wembley. Here then, are five relatively recent Charity/Community Shield moments that matter.
Eric Cantona’s hat-trick in 1992
Just a week before pub quiz’s Brian Deane triggered the start of the FA Premier League in August 1992, First Division champions Leeds defeated FA Cup holders Liverpool 4-3 in one of the most entertaining editions of the Charity Shield on record. Gordon Strachan’s late own goal remains a thing of farcical beauty, but it was Eric Cantona’s hat-trick (the Frenchman remains the last player to score a Shield treble) that was the true seismic event.
Later in August Cantona would score the first hat-trick in Premier League history, and was still scoring goals for Leeds as they crashed out of the Champions League against Rangers in November, but a week after that he was a Manchester United player and the fortunes of his new club were due to take a turn for the better.
As for Leeds, that Charity Shield victory was one of only three times they’d win away from Elland Road all season, including an entirely victory-less league campaign on the road. Cantona was enjoying pastures new, Leeds were slumping to 17th place, no Shield participant has fallen so low since.
David Seaman’s Missed Penalty in 1993
The Charity Shield had been shared three times in six editions between 1986 and 1991 but by the time that league winners Manchester United and double domestic cup victors Arsenal drew 1-1 in 1993, penalty shootouts had been reintroduced, not that Arsenal manager George Graham was aware of the change until the game ended and he had to choose five takers. Perhaps Graham’s unpreparedness was the reason that his goalkeeper David Seaman took Arsenal’s sixth and decisive penalty as the process reached sudden death.
The reason many goalkeepers are good at taking penalties is that they treat them like a goal kick and launch them into the back of the net at a raucous pace. Not Seaman in this instance, though. A weak effort from the furiously gum-chewing ‘keeper was easily parried by Peter Schmeichel and United became the first penalty shootout winners in the competition since Liverpool in 1974.
From Defeat Comes Glory in 1998
Arsenal had won a league and cup double in 1997-98, Arsene Wenger’s first full season in charge, so faced league runners-up Manchester United at Wembley in August. A comfortable 3-0 win for Wenger’s team would prove to be the falsest of dawns for both clubs, though. The Gunners had lined up Wembley to be their home for Champions League games, so this win augured well but Arsenal would win just once there in the group stage and crash out of the tournament behind Dynamo Kiev and Lens. Meanwhile, United sealed qualification for the Champions League a few days after their Charity Shield thumping and would go on to win Europe’s premier competition without losing a single game, lose their final league game in December on the way to regaining the title from Arsenal and add the FA Cup in what is arguably the greatest ever campaign from an English club.
Andrei Shevchenko’s Misleading Start in 2006
In the long hot summer of 2006 people wondered whether any team other than Chelsea would ever win the Premiership again. A pair of league titles under Jose Mourinho was concerning enough, but then the club added Andrei Shevchenko for £30m, the top scoring player in the Champions League in 2005-06 and the most feared striker in Europe. Game over.
Then on his debut Shevchenko equalised against Liverpool in the first half of the Community Shield, chesting down a raking pass from Frank Lampard and slotting home with worrying ease. Game definitely over for the rest of the league. Or not: Shevchenko would record just four league goals in his first season with Chelsea and score more than once only against League Two Wycombe in the League Cup.
Chelsea’s hopes of winning three successive league titles would be ended by a resurgent Cristiano Ronaldo-led Manchester United, while the impregnable Mourinho would be sacked just 13 months after Shevchenko’s misleading debut strike. Football.
Manchester City Break The Curse in 2018
In the 1960s and 1970s the idea that the Charity Shield acted as some sort of title-curse grew among certain circles of thinkers. Between 1966 and 1975, none of the 20 teams who appeared in the conventional curtain-lifter went on to win the league later that season. The 2010s have been largely similar with none of the Community Shield participants between 2012 and 2017 winning the Premier League nine months on. Manchester City ended that run last season and can become the first team to win both the Shield and the league in consecutive seasons since Manchester United in 2007-08 and 2008-09. Before that, the last time it happened was with Arsenal in the 1930s, so maybe the curse is real after all.