In the wake of the recent controversy surrounding the big four clubs’ mandatory extended injury time, I’ll take a look at five moments when stoppage time has had the greatest effect on English football.
1) 1/3/2009 – Our spirits soared and we all roared when in the last minute…Whelan scored!
I’m probably biased in including this in the list, but I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t include at least one Stoke goal, and this one was a very big one. 2-0 down at Aston Villa with three minutes to play, Ryan Shawcross pulled us a goal back. It looked to be nothing but a consolation though, as the meagre two minutes of added time trickled by, when, in a sudden flash of inspiration that is emblematic of what it has been like to be a Stoke fan over the past few years, Glenn Whelan pulled a stunner out of the bag, firing low past Villa ‘keeper Brad Friedel to level the scores. Many people see this as the key moment in our debut Premier League season, as it kick started our late-season run of good form that helped us move comfortably to safety. It was also seemingly the moment that killed Villa’s season, as, with their confidence apparently shaken, they went on a dreadful run, slipping from a likely Champions League finish to a final sixth place.
2) 30/7/1966 – They think it’s all over
Perhaps the enduring image in the history of football in England is Geoff Hurst’s thunderbolt to put England’s 1966 World Cup victory on home soil beyond all doubt. With fans running on the pitch, and Ken Wolstenholme’s famous commentary, this goal captured the pride of the nation. In terms of winning the game, it was really of little importance, but on sheer iconic value alone it deserves its place in this list.
3) 6/10/2001 – Beck-hammer blow
Move forward 35 years and you come to another memorable World Cup goal, but far from securing it, this free-kick from David Beckham merely confirmed England’s place in the 2002 edition of the tournament. In the 93rd minute of the match, Greece led England by two goals to one at Old Trafford, with a draw at least necessary for the home side in order to guarantee qualification for the competition in Japan and South Korea, and it was clear that with Beckham lining up for a strike 25 yards out it was do or die time. He didn’t disappoint, sending the perfect powerful, yet precise strike past Greece ‘keeper Antonios Nikopolidis. He’s had his ups and downs in an England shirt, but this late goal will certainly go down favourably in footballing history.
4) 26/5/1999 – The masters of the late goal time it just right
It’s not surprising, given the fact that their manager is one of the best referees in the world, that a Manchester United goal features on this list. The scene, the 1999 Champions League final, the English side trailing Bayern Munich by a goal to nil at the ninety minutes elapse. Cue Teddy Sheringham to equalise in the first of three minutes of added time. With the Germans, and all self respecting fans of other English clubs still reeling, up popped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to snatch the first European Cup title for an English side for seventeen years.
5) 8/5/1999 – A touch of class from Jimmy GlassFrom the glamour of the Champions League final in Barcelona, to the final day of the 1998/99 Football League Division Three (now League Two) season at Carlisle. With United struggling on and off the pitch, only a win against Plymouth would mean they avoided relegation to non-league football that could well have meant the club went out of business. With less than sixty second left on the clock, Carlisle won a corner, and, in time-honoured fashion, up came ‘keeper Jimmy Glass to add some weight to his side’s attack. The ball fell kindly for the on loan Swindon man, and he smashed it home, sparking jubilant scenes and a pitch invasion, and condemning Scarborough, who now have gone out of business, to relegation. The moment was voted as the 72nd greatest ever in sport, but for football’s true romantics, it has to top the list. Incidentally, Glass now runs a taxi firm.