Sports Retro: Di Canio furore as ref Alcock is left on the floor

Referee Paul Alcock falls to the floor as Paolo Di Canio walks off after being sent off
Referee Paul Alcock falls to the floor as Paolo Di Canio walks off after being sent off
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When Paul Alcock was appointed to take charge of Sheffield Wednesday’s home match against Arsenal on 26 September 1998, little did he know what would transpire.

There were 27,949 present at Hillsborough that day and there was a little over a minute of a goalless first half left.

It had been fiery at times and when Wednesday’s Wim Jonk tugged on Patrick Vieira’s shirt outside the Arsenal area, the Frenchman reacted angrily, pushing the Dutchman over.

That was the sign for players from all over the pitch to descend on the scene with Paolo Di Canio and Martin Keown grappling between themselves.

Alcock had no hesitation in showing Di Canio the red card but rather than just leave the field the Italian chose to react by giving the official a two-handed push which saw him hit the ground.

Keown was next to be sent off, any protestation of acting as peacemaker undone by his use of a raised forearm while holding on to the neck of his Di Canio’s shirt.

Paolo Di Canio pushes out at Referee Paul Alcock as he is shown the Red Card

Paolo Di Canio pushes out at Referee Paul Alcock as he is shown the Red Card

Manager Danny Wilson had only just had a public falling out with Di Canio and he said: “He totally lost it for a split second and I don’t know what was going through his head.

“We immediately suspended him so that people understand that we recognise the severity of the incident, and we will back the FA in whatever they choose to do.”

There were rumours too emanating from Hillsborough that the Wednesday dressing room door had come off its hinges and a glass mirror smashed into smithereens.

Di Canio attended a disciplinary meeting at Bramall Lane the following month where he was found guilty of misconduct.

Referee Paul Alcock lays on the' floor after being pushed by Paolo Di Canio (left)

Referee Paul Alcock lays on the' floor after being pushed by Paolo Di Canio (left)

He was given an 11-match ban in total - an automatic three-game suspension for his red card plus eight for the push - as well as being fined £10,000.

Paolo Di Canio clashes with Arsenal pair of Keown & Vieira

Paolo Di Canio clashes with Arsenal pair of Keown & Vieira

Paolo Di Canio waves to supporters after his FA disciplinary hearing at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane ground where he was given an eight-game ban on top of his automatic three-match suspension for his push on referee Paul Alcock.

Paolo Di Canio waves to supporters after his FA disciplinary hearing at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane ground where he was given an eight-game ban on top of his automatic three-match suspension for his push on referee Paul Alcock.

Paolo Di Canio arrives back at Sheffield Wednesday for training after his ban

Paolo Di Canio arrives back at Sheffield Wednesday for training after his ban