The other goal
by Dan Mobbs
Lauded on TV, in magazines, down the pub and in extensive YouTube compilations, goals are the porn of football.
Long-range screamers, individual runs, team efforts and the occasional inspired cheeky finish are often the sort of instant gratification most fans clammer for, but the often overlooked ugly ducklings are the equally revered and feared own-goal.
Like their more common cousins, own-goals come in many forms and can be quite uniform and standard to witness, but unlike a regular goal the joy and delight of seeing a well-executed whoopsy transcends the comparative base emotion associated with seeing the ball intentionally fly into the net.
The usual joy is topped with a level of unexpected delight and an injection of hilarity. The best wronguns appear out of nowhere and have been known to disguise themselves as a clinical forward’s finish, prompting joyous surprise upon realisation.
Obviously the joy is tempered if it’s your team sticking one in the wrong net, but Jamie Pollock’s glorious solo effort for Manchester City under the pressure of relegation in 1998 stands out as one of the pinnacles of instant gratification alongside the best in the history of the game and merits recognition for jubilantly confounding expectation, as he expertly recreates Gazza’s goal from two years previous against Scotland.
In the penultimate game of the season with both teams needing points to avoid dropping into the third tier, Pollock skilfully held his nerve to help QPR to a 2-2 draw and survival. City were relegated despite winning 5-2 at Stoke on the final day.
Pollock’s composure is matched by the precision of Iain Dowie’s back-post header at Edgeley Park in December 1996 in a League Cup fourth round replay against Stockport County, as he deftly evades the attention of the man he’s supposed to be marking to bullet in an unstoppable effort from six yards.
Despite no one putting him under pressure Dowie showed a clinical streak that often evaded him at the other end to level the score a minute after Julian Dicks had given West Ham the lead. Stockport won 2-1.
Equally, captain of club and country, Vincent Kompany, shows that even being held in high regard by pundits and players provides no immunity from a calamitous moment in front of goal.
After scoring one at the right end to give City a 2-0 lead at Craven Cottage in December 2013, Kompany crumbled when Sascha Riether’s innocuous ball across the box was artfully and majestically looped over the despairing Joe Hart in goal with the outside of his left boot from an angle that appeared impossible to do so.
Aside from slapping a big grin across the neutral viewer’s face, this only goes to prove that even the great and good of the modern game aren’t infallible to hilarious ineptitude, and so is Iain Dowie.
Like finding a tenner in an old pair of jeans, the joy is greater than merely having that amount of money in your possession. Instead, it’s a joyous and unexpected victory over expectation.
Rather than being downtrodden though and undermined for their clumsiness, these players should be celebrated and held aloft alongside Wayne Hatswell and his top corner drive, the Greek Chuckle brothers of Vassilis Torosidis and Alexandros Tziolis combining in a World Cup play-off against Romania, Kolo Toure and the baffling bobble, Lee Dixon’s delicate chip, this long-range belter from Milan Gajic against St Gallen in July, the deadly reactions of Pavol Durica and many more besides.
Instead of being derided these goals deserve to be celebrated for their difference and maybe one day, own-goal won’t be seen as such a dirty word.
Image: Flickr / Moazzam BrohiTags: Crystal Palace, Manchester City, Premier League
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