'The next day I was slaughtered in the press' - ex-Portsmouth player Jason Crowe on being sent off 33 seconds into Arsenal debut
Jason Crowe’s Arsenal outings were fleeting – yet his unwanted presence in their history books is unlikely to ever be expunged.
Some 23 years on, the right-back’s record for the club’s quickest sending off remains unchallenged.
Crowe lasted just 33 seconds of that League Cup encounter with Birmingham in October 1997.
To make matters worse, it was also his first-team debut.
With the Highbury encounter tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the lifelong Arsenal supporter was introduced for Lee Dixon at the start of extra-time.
Arsenal would run out 4-1 winners with further goals from David Platt, Luis Boa Morte and Alberto Mendez.
But the unfortunate Crowe had long left the pitch.
He told The News: ‘I was sent off after 33 seconds of my Arsenal debut, which is still a record to this day.
‘All I remember is running on for Lee Dixon – then running straight back off!
‘I chested the ball on the edge of the box and was going to hook it, only to catch the boot of Martin O’Connor. He was rolling around on the floor like a baby.
‘Uriah Rennie was the referee and immediately pulled me over to one side. I thought he was going to give me a ticking off – instead it was a straight red card.
‘I had never been sent off before, I didn’t know what to do. So I ran off back to the changing room.
‘Ian Wright was in the tunnel and gave me a big hug. I didn’t know what to think, to be honest.
‘The next day I was slaughtered in the press, on the back pages of the papers. Everything was about 33 seconds.
‘It wasn’t even a yellow card, it’s frightening, and Rennie later tried to apologise.
‘I was sub quite a few times for Arsenal after that and for a match at Blackburn in April 1998 he attempted to say sorry to me. I responded with “Go away, mate”.
‘That probably didn’t help my Arsenal career. Playing in extra-time would have given me a nice little 30-minute run out, especially when Birmingham had 10-men.
‘You just don’t know what would have happened.’
Crowe would feature just twice more for Arsene Wenger’s side.
There was an eight game loan spell at First Division Crystal Palace before he was transfer-listed along with Stephen Hughes, Christopher Wreh and Alberto Mendez in the summer of 1999.
Having been with Arsenal since the age of 11, the former England under-20 international had to bid farewell to Highbury.
He added: ‘I was on holiday with friends in Cyprus when I found out about my transfer listing by Arsenal.
‘I saw it on television. Honestly, that’s how I found out!
‘At that time I was competing with Lee Dixon and Remi Garde at right-back. Arsene really liked his French players too, he looked after them.
‘Trying to break into any first-team for a young lad is difficult, but being in the top-four teams was even harder.’
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