21 years ago today: Eric Cantona kung-fu kicked a fan – Jonathan Pearce’s commentary remains epic

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If you are a certain vintage, the video and commentary below will make you feel quite old.

Today, January 25, 2016, marks 21 years since Eric Cantona kung-fu kicked a Crystal Palace fan in one of the most famous incidents ever in English football.

With the Premier League still riding on the crest of a wave and emerging as the NBA of professional football this incident will go down as being key to the rise of football as soap opera in England.

Quite simply, if a Manchester United talisman was to attack a fan after being sent off in a top flight game today, the internet would melt.

In 1995, it was a very different story.

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For many, including this writer, the only way to follow the majority of football matches was via the medium of radio.


Manchester United’s visit to Crystal Palace when Cantona went nuts was not shown on live TV and if you weren’t at the game, you had to tune in to the wireless.

There were no illegal streams to navigate or VPNs to activate to pull in a feed from Timbuktu, hell, there was no internet widely available to the public.

It was a ticket to the game or radio. That was it.

If you lived in London and surrounding areas, this meant Capital Gold and Jonathan Pearce.

Now many of you might wonder why nowadays Pearce is such a venerated commentator these days. He shouts too much for TV and does not know when to shut up.

On Capital Gold though, and generally on radio, Pearce was awesome. He painted pictures and his high pitched screaming brought an intensity and passion that the English game deserved.

That night, 21 years ago, at a boisterous Selhurst Park, Pearce was already going off on one when Cantona was sent off.

Then came Cantona’s kung-fu kick on Matthew Simmons and the commentary went up a notch.

Pearce: “I have never seen as disgraceful an incident as that, in all my years in football! Eric Cantona should be thrown out of the game for that sort of incident! I care not one jot about his supreme talent. He launched himself six feet into the crowd and kung fu kicked a supporter!”

Now imagine hearing that without seeing the pictures below.

For many of us it turned into a seminal moment of our childhood.

And, to sum up the differences between 21 years ago and today, there was no Sky Sports, BT Sport, Twitter, Vine, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat to go see Cantona attack a fan.

On this particular night, you were fortunate that it was the lead story on the 10 O’clock BBC News so you could see footage of Cantona going crazy.

Different times!

Listen to Jonathan Pearce’s epic commentary of Eric Cantona’s Kung-Fu kick below.

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