Tuesday, 13 November 2007


I learned at the weekend that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

One of my favourite moments last season was in a game between Darlington and Bury. A Darlo player crosses the ball into the goalmouth and, in trying to hook the ball over his shoulder to safety, a defender slams it into his own face so hard it bounces into the net. It was an instant blooper DVD classic, but we set the bar a notch higher on Saturday!

The moment Richard Hope and Anthony Williams ran into each other I knew we'd get onto “Match of the Day” that night! Seven intervening hours having anaesthetised the impact of the incident somewhat, I could only smile as Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer mocked us.

However, the next night the BBC did some research and dug out Silvio Spann's howler too! Spann's slip as he took a corner, spooning the ball into the away end, surely set a new standard; we'd provided two classic foul-ups in one match! Danny Baker must rue leaving the gaffe compilation DVD market too soon! Didn't he know we were about to give the genre a much needed shot in the arm?

Nothing's new in football though. My favourite howler was a Darren Wright own goal at Crewe, where he bent the ball past a stranded Mike Salmon into the top corner. That is until we signed the true master of disaster: goalkeeper Vince O'Keefe.

His greatest moment came at Mansfield. We had a free kick on the edge of our own area, a situation which you'd think even O'Keefe could negotiate safely. However, as Phil Hardy tapped the ball to him, O'Keefe decided to look away, the ball went through his legs and a striker walked the ball into the empty net!

That one made it onto the comedy DVDs. A less celebrated but more bizarre incident occurred in a home game against Hereford. A Wrexham attack broke down and the ball was booted up the pitch. There were no outfield players in Wrexham's half as the ball trickled towards O'Keefe, who waited for it on the edge of the area. Again, an innocuous situation, but with O'Keefe danger was always just around the corner! Presumably bored of waiting for the ball to arrive, or misguidedly thinking he was helping the game to flow, he stepped out of the box, picked the ball up, and stepped back into the area! Fantastically, he was filled with indignation when the referee had the temerity to blow for handball!

There were many other classics in his repertoire. I recall him punching a cross into his own net with terrific gusto at Wigan, and scoring a superb own goal against Cambridge: United packed the near post for a corner but overhit the flag-kick. However, O'Keefe caught the ball to his chest, staggered and slowly fell backwards into his own net, all the time clutching it ball tightly as if it were a baby!

At least we haven't hit those depths. Yet.

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