On this day in 2005 Newcastle team-mates Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer were sent off after fighting with each other during a 3-0 loss to Aston Villa at St James’ Park. Here, we look back at the brawl, the consequences and the players’ take on it further down the line.
Graeme Souness’ Magpies, already reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Steven Taylor for handball, had just gone 3-0 down via an 80th-minute Gareth Barry penalty when the remarkable skirmish broke out. An argument between Bowyer and fellow midfielder Dyer rapidly escalated as the former approached the latter and they began to scrap, with punches being thrown. Players from both sides intervened and the pair were dragged apart – Bowyer’s shirt was seen to have been ripped down the front – before referee Barry Knight showed each the red card.
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The post-match press conference saw Bowyer and Dyer sit either side of Souness and each issue an apology. After the players departed, the manager then said he felt Bowyer was “indefensible”, adding: “I think he is guilty, as the pictures show, of throwing more than one punch and he has to accept whatever punishment comes his way.” Regarding Dyer, Souness said he had been assured by the former Ipswich man he “did not throw any punches today, that he was on the receiving end”. He also stressed there would be “internal discipline”.
Bans and fines
Bowyer initially faced a four-match ban for what was his second sending-off of the league campaign, and, after he admitted using violent conduct, it was subsequently extended to seven games by the Football Association. He was also given a £30,000 fine – that was on top of Newcastle fining him six weeks’ wages, estimated to be around £200,000. Dyer served a three-match suspension after the FA rejected the club’s appeal against his red card. The following year Bowyer, who had just moved on to West Ham, was fined £600 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs after pleading guilty at Newcastle Magistrates Court to using threatening behaviour.
In 2014 the two men – who ended up as team-mates at West Ham as well – were quoted by The Chronicle giving their take on the incident. Bowyer described it as “a moment of madness”, while Dyer said of the point at which things boiled over: “He (Bowyer) said ‘you never pass to me’, I said ‘the reason I don’t pass to you is because you’re **** basically’. There were a lot of swear words. And that was it, then you just saw him lose his head.” Dyer also claimed Souness told them in the dressing room: “If you want to fight I’ll beat both of you.” Bowyer and Dyer both emphasised they were now on good terms, with the latter saying: “We are friends. That’s just the way Lee was. But I still want to beat him up.”
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