Greatest ever Liverpool-related own goals
LET'S face it, everyone loves an own goal.
Be it a lumbering centre-half wildly slashing a loose ball past his team’s immobile keeper, an over-compensating beanpole striker forcefully nodding a last-minute corner into his own net or Gary Neville aiming a lazy punt at a particularly uncooperative divot in the England six-yard box, there’s something inherently and unashamedly comical about the whole shabby business.
If I were to analyse it on a psychological level, I’m sure I’d blow out some old guff about ‘schadenfreude’, the extraction of pleasure from the misfortune of others or, in the sage words of Lisa Simpson, ‘shameful joy’.
But in reality it’s even more basic than that. It’s pure slapstick. If lab-coated boffins were to magically teleport Laurel and Hardy into the 21st century they wouldn’t waste their time pointedly trying to avoid discarded banana skins. No, they’d be lining up alongside Titus Bramble in Sunderland’s back four, firing a steady stream of over-hit back-passes at Craig Gordon’s helpless nut.
Take Jonathan Woodgate’s Real Madrid debut, back in September 2005, for example. After being ruled out for the best part of a decade with a succession of ruptured hair-slides, how did the mop-topped student stomper mark his inaugural appearance at the Bernabeu?
By carefully boncing a friendly long-range effort past a frankly miffed-looking Iker Casillas, of course. That he followed this up by getting himself sent off only confirmed Woody’s status as the clown prince of continental defending.
Rumours persist that a desire to swap his gleaming Mercedes for a collapsing tricycle, and the urge to wear an oversized, suspicious-looking flower in his lapel, only served to hasten his Madrid exit. And who could ever forget Bury’s Chris Brass? (Alright, put your hands down, I was being rhetorical. Pedants!).
He’s the poor sap who attempted an intricate overhead back-post clearance but succeeded only in volleying the ball squarely into his own mush, for it to rebound like a bunny in a catapult into the goal he was theoretically defending.
And, to add injury to insult, name-calling and a fair bit of pointing and laughing, he managed to break his nose in the process. Genius. Pure genius.
Of course, the mirth is tempered somewhat when the hapless protagonist plays for your team. In fact, it’s usually tempered to the point where sweary abuse and darkly-muttered threats seem the only logical response.
Although even then you have to admit that, just occasionally, all you can do is scratch your head, shrug your shoulders and offer up your grudging thanks to the comedy heavens.
Come on, who amongst us can honestly say they didn’t suppress a wry chuckle when the incomparable Jamie Carragher managed to find his own net twice before half-time in that game against Man United a while back? Okay, bad example.
But passage of time certainly helps to numb the pain and allows us to place the mighty Carra’s valiant efforts high in the pantheon of outstanding own goal accomplishment. And Liverpool games have involved more than their share of notable own goals over the years.
From the heartbreaking to the hilarious to the downright bizarre, our matches have thrown up some of the classics of the genre. So, without further ado, and after much deliberation, I present to you my rundown of the 10 Greatest Liverpool-Related Own Goals. Think of them kindly.
10 – Steven Gerrard, v Chelsea, Carling Cup Final, 2005.
The Liverpool captain does his bit to assure anxious fans that rumours of an imminent move to Chelsea are unfounded by heading a late equaliser for Jose Mourinho’s unlovely gang of mercenaries, cheats and wideboys. Thankfully, he resists the urge to leap into the arms of an adoring John Terry whilst Big-Boned Frank tosses him a pork scratching. Grim rather than funny this one. Oh well.
9 – Delfi Geli, Alaves, UEFA Cup Final, 2001.
Clearly aware of Liverpool’s record in penalty shoot-outs, the Alaves defender takes the honourable way out and opts to fall on his sword, ostentatiously deflecting Gary McAllister’s last minute free-kick past a stranded keeper, handing the Reds their third UEFA Cup in the process. Hurray for him!
8 – Brian Laws, Nottingham Forest, FA Cup Semi Final (2nd match), 1989
Whilst this semi final was rightly overshadowed by the horrific events of the original fixture, it is hard to forget the Forest full-back’s contribution to an ultimately comfortable Liverpool victory. After planting a perfect header firmly into his own net, Laws’ dejection was compounded as a delighted John Aldridge playfully patted him on the head, in the same manner that an indulgent dog owner would reward an obedient pooch for fetching a stick (see 8mins 25secs).
7 – Avi Cohen, v Aston Villa, Division 1, 1980
The “Beckenbauer of the Middle East” made his name in this game, which ensured that yet another title would be winging its way back to Anfield. In the first half he sliced a clearance which looped over Ray Clemence’s head in a perfect arc before nestling snugly in the bottom corner. He later made amends by firing home in the right end to seal the victory. Cue wild celebrations. Cheers, Avi. You’re sadly missed.
6 – Jamie Carragher, v West Ham, FA Cup Final, 2006
Another of those ‘funny in hindsight, though at the time I could have punched a kitten’ incidents. If you watch Carra’s feet closely, he is clearly trying to back-heel the ball out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, he misses, connects instead with his standing foot, topples face first into the Cardiff turf and sets West Ham on the way to a 2-0 lead. Walks away with a face redder than Mick Hucknall’s wig. But of course, we forgive him. After all, it’s Carra, for God’s sake!
5 – Phil Neville, Everton, Premiership, 2006
Now this is more like it. Face it, what could be funnier than seeing an Everton player, an ex-Man. United player, a Neville, leave his own keeper clutching at thin air in the Anfield derby. It’s like winning the National Lottery, only as an added reward they’re going to throw in a lifetime’s supply of Scampi Fries, a pair of x-ray goggles and a helmet made out of giant magnets. Outstanding.
4 – Sandy Brown, Everton, Division 1, 1969
This effort will always hold a special place in the hearts of Reds of a certain age. Some wing trickery from Peter Thompson down the left, a curling cross delivered to the edge of the 6 yard box, a perfectly-executed diving header from the Everton clogger performed with all the grace of a hippo on a skateboard, the sound of 10,000 jaws simultaneously dropping in the Gwladys Street end. Priceless.
3 – Ronnie Whelan, v Man. United, Division 1, 1990
By this stage in his career the Irish schemer and latter-day sense void had developed a reputation for spectacular, long range curlers which left goalkeepers rooted to the spot. Usually the goalkeepers in question belonged to the opposition. Usually. Happily, this was nought but an amusing distraction in what was an otherwise routine stroll to a 2-1 Old Trafford victory. But in terms of quality, style and execution it should have walked away with the Turner Prize.
2 – Djimi Traore, v Burnley, FA Cup, 2005
Like the shooting of JFK, the downfall of Thatcher or Bez winning Celebrity Big Brother, no-one who witnessed it will ever be able to forget where they were the night Djimi Traore’s mind was possessed by the spirit of Johann Cruyff. Unfortunately nobody bothered to pass the message on to Djimi’s feet. Just to clarify, fancy drag-backs a yard in front of your own goal-line are inadvisable even with the footballing ability of an Alan Hansen, let alone an Alan Titchmarsh
1 – Gary Sprake, Leeds United, Division 1, 1967
Quite simply the greatest thing a Leeds player has ever done on a football pitch. For the uninitiated, this is what happened. Wales goalie Sprake, no stranger to the blooper reel as it was, collected the ball in the Kop goalmouth and looked to quickly bowl it out to hatchet-faced left-back, Terry Cooper. Whilst in the act of throwing he hesitated, attempted to clutch the ball to his chest and, to levels of bemusement that could only be rivalled should Paul Merson ever try to tie his own shoe-laces, somehow managed to fling it purposefully over his shoulder and into his own net. Cue the Kop erupting as one into a chorus of popular anarchist singer Des O’Connor’s latest chart-topper, ‘Careless Hands’. And so a legend was born, a career was in tatters and the power and mystery of the humble own goal was firmly established as an intrinsic part of football’s ragged tapestry. Just ask Chris Brass.
|Last Updated ( Saturday, 26 November 2011 14:36 )|