Imagine this. It’s January 1961 and you’re in a hazy Craven Cottage home changing room. Game day, minutes from kick-off. Sheffield Wednesday have rolled into West London for this First Division match-up. Cobwebs are slowly being swept away. It’s the post-Christmas spell, you see.
The sweet smell of Brycreem loiters in the air. It mixes palpably with the weighty feeling of anticipation before battle. The captain leads you into the tunnel. The boots clack on the cold floor. You know your place in midfield. The gaffer’s already out. The final words of encouragement seep about the place from the skipper, and from the fans clamouring outside.
Out onto the turf you go. In come the final bits of housekeeping. The last stretches are deployed. Laces checked. The ref is readying his watch as the atmosphere builds. The whistle goes and we’re off. Hold on, has he blown that twice? He has you know. A distant roar from the away fans washes over the pitch like a miserable tidal wave. Mullery’s the culprit with an own goal. Oh Alan, mate. How? Just thirty seconds in. Wednesday haven’t even touched the ball! Think we can get a sub ready ref?
With this bizarre opener, Alan Mullery’s own goal meant the afternoon for Fulham was effectively over before it had really even begun. It was a desperate falling domino, kickstarting a pile-up of dross as the Whites went on to lose 1-6. As it was a nasty start in that game, it is here – as in this week’s article I’m taking a look at some of the worst OGs. From the historic to the downright deadly, there are some real stinkers included. Don’t worry Alan, you’re in good company here.
The (disputed) first own goal
Now, first off I can tell you this article is somewhat linear. However, despite starting with the first recorded own goal – the sub sections I’ve gone for jumble the chronology.
The own goal and its subsequent toxic shot of embarrassment loitered in the background of football’s very inception. It had always been a possibility as the forefathers planned our game back in the 1800s, and it actually didn’t take too long to rear its ugly head. Not long at all.
In association football’s commencement, the black sheep bleated to ruin the inaugural weekend of games. Yes, the outcast forgotten rogue child broke out of the attic (a la Bart’s evil twin from The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror style) to disrupt the party.
20 minutes after the first kick of a ball in early September 1888 was all it took for the first ever recorded league own goal to take place. One Gershom Cox of Aston Villa was believed to have committed the blunder against Wolves. It was his claim to fame up until 2013, when records disputed that the historic conversion belonged to another player – Kenny Davenport of Bolton Wanderers. He had allegedly found his own net just the day before. Both obviously no longer with us, I guess they can talk that one out on the great football pitch in the sky.
Ready. Set. Go!
If 1888’s collective effort seemed quick with the league in its infancy, these next strikes lap them in a different sense. These. These are the fastest own goals in the English divisions.
Clocking in at a trailblazing six seconds is Pat Kruse. In 1977’s Fourth Division January clash between Torquay and Cambridge United, the defender latched onto a long ball from Ian Seddon. As the keeper emerged, likely yelling his intent to claim, Kruse ignored him. He rose like a squirming salmon and headed past his presumably fuming number one.
Just under 13 years later in the Premier League, Steve Bould invertedly tried his best to beat this record time. However, the Arsenal man could only manage a measly 15 seconds away at Sheffield Wednesday. As found on the brilliant footballsite.co.uk, the defender later acknowledged his prowess for the art of self inflicted misery.
“I was a scorer of great goals. Great own goals.”
A truly moving statement of reflection, Steve.
Sharing is caring and a victim of the Kop
Often with this topic, come some seriously odd finishes. Finishes, that up the other end would more likely spark intrigue than shame. A case in point is Leicester’s superb own goal from the 1954/55 season. Playing against Chelsea, a side marching toward their first ever Football League crown, City defenders Jack Froggatt and Stan Milburn took a swipe at the ball at the same time. It careered away from them, beating their own goalie to record a shared own goal. Chelsea prevailed 3-1 that day.
From a strange turn of events, we now go to a moment where this scorer must’ve wanted the ground to swallow him up. Well, it’s fair to suggest a lot of finishers at the wrong end feel like that – but imagine scoring a ludicrous attempt in front of Anfield’s Kop end AND having a song linked to the tragedy.
Well, Saturday the 9th of December 1967 saw that very thing happen. Visiting Leeds goalkeeper Gary Sprake collected the ball. Looking out across a frosty pitch, he saw his defender Willie Bell calling for the pass. With the Kop on his back, Sprake moved forward. Yet, like one of those timid deer in the headlights, he froze in a moment of mystery. He must’ve seen a new marker for Bell and thusly u-turned the throw. Unfortunately, Sprake’s arms didn’t correspond to the movements his brain was shooting out and he somehow botched it so badly, he chucked the ball into his goal behind him.
Ignore the jeers, get to half time, do the apologies, try and get a result, right? This would prove easier said than done, as one cheeky PA operator played Des O’Connor’s Careless Hands at the break. And just like that, the tune stuck and Sprake had to tolerate that one every time he stepped into that penalty area in front of the red masses.
Filling the scoresheet, *smack!*, and a long distance stunner
Some footballers in history are just too good at scoring. So much so, there’s been plenty of examples of players scoring at both ends in the same game. However, it’s oddly impressive to score two for both sides. In 1923, Oldham Athletic’s defeat to Manchester United was dominated by one man. Becoming the first player to do so, Sam Wynne bagged a brace for both teams.
Despite scoring a penalty and a free kick, his day was dampened with a dastardly double in the 2-3 loss. Just three years down the line, his on pitch fortunes somehow worsened, as in a game between his new team Bury and Sheffield United – he tragically died of pneumonia while playing.
Continuing a Bury link, own goals are a pain aren’t they? This next one’s ‘pain’ is localised to the face of Chris Brass. In 2006, the Shakers defender went full flair mode. Alas, Brass was no Maldini and instead of this being an agile, graceful clearance – he bicycled it into his own face. Smack! Perhaps more embarrassing than the near-bloody nose, was that this was the only goal he’d register for Bury.
That one might be hard to top but in 2012, Ante Kulusic gave it a good go. In a top tier Turkish tie between two tongue twisting teams, Kulusic’s Genclerbirligi and Gaziantepsor, the Croatian defender tried to pick out his goalie. On the halfway line, Kulusic was pressed and if you watch the video, you’ll likely never see a defender look so akin to a fish out of water. He turns quickly. ‘Have this. Please!’ He’s almost thinking with the hot potato at his feet. He pelts it back to his keeper, but oh no – he’s out of his goal and the ball curls past him. Sod.
End of part one. Join up again next week with own goals that decided some huge fixtures and even resulted in death…