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Top 10: The goals that weren’t

Darren Bent’s beachball assisted goal against Liverpool has provoked great consternation and debate amongst football fans, purists and officials alike. However you would think that this is the first time an official has got a mistake like this wrong. Oh no! There have been many examples of rank officialdom in action and here is our top ten of major goal incidents that were either given, or not given by some appalling referee or his assistant…

10. South Korea v Spain/Italy  (2002 World Cup Finals)

The home country reached the semi finals thanks to victories over two of European football’s superpowers. Ably assisted by some utterly atrocious refereeing which disallowed several goals, ruled players offside when they weren’t, penalised the European teams but ignored Korean infractions. As an England fan it was funny at the time, but one wonders how we’d have felt had we been suffering at the hands of officials as the Italians and Spanish did.


9. Michael Ball  (Man City v Sheffield United)

Manchester City defender Michael Ball pre-empted the Bent furore a few years ago when playing against Sheffield United. A counter attack by the blades saw them slide the ball across the box, unfortunately it hit a balloon, deflecting it and making Ball miss his kick, presenting Shelton with a simple tap in. This goal stood too Reds fans.


8. Clive Allen  (Crystal Palace V Coventry City, 1980)

The young whippersnapper was making a name for himself at Terry Venables young Palace team and against Coventry he smacked a free kick past the wall and right into the top corner, the ball smacking against the stanchion and coming out. Everyone knew it was a goal, bar the officials. However we did get to see Jimmy Hill whine on about the “staunchion” afterwards, which was highly amusing.


7. Lionel Messi  (Barcelona v Espanol)

Ah! So you thought cheating half-pint Argentinians were the sole preserve of Mr Maradona did you? Oh, that is not the case. As brilliant as he is, Barcelona’s star man Lionel Messi isn’t averse to punching the ball into the net in a sneak way if needs be as proved by this sneaky little effort against Espanol.


6. Luis Garcia  (Liverpool v Chelsea)

Did it cross the line? Does anyone know? Well the referee said he did and gave it which is pretty brave considering that four years down the line nobody is really sure. Still a sore point for Jose Mourinho, which does make it all the more entertaining.


5. Geoff Hurst (England V West Germany 1966)

Did it cross the line? Does anyone know? Well the Belarussian linesman did and gave it, apparently after Tory minister Kenneth Clark (sat handily behind him) said “By jove old bean! That goal looked good to me! By the way that’s a pretty fine moustache you have there…” All we know is, for English fans it was miles over, for Scottish fans it was four yards in front of the line, catapulted there by the sheer gravity of the chip on their shoulder.


4. Pedro Mendes  (Tottenham V Manchester United)

An enthralling game in the last few moments. Suddenly Pedro Mendes launches the ball into the stratosphere towards goal. United keeper Roy Carroll runs back to catch it and fumbles it! Did it cross the line? Does anyone know? Well yes, they do. It was over the line by a country mile. But it wasn’t given, presumably because of Mendes shaggy mullet and nothing at all to do with the game being at Old Trafford.


3. Freddy Sears (Crystal Palace v Bristol City)

Seeing a fully blown Neil Warnock strop is one of the joys for fans of the beautiful game. The world is often against Neil and by jove, does he like to let us know about it. To be fair, he had a point here. On loan Freddie Sears slots the ball into the bottom corner of the net where it hits the base of the goal. Everyone knows it is a goal. Apart from the officials. Strange isn’t it how the two goals like this, Clive Allen’s earlier, came involving Crystal Palace?


2. Diego Maradona (Argentina v England 1986)

The Argentinians still laugh, the Scots still bristle when England fans moan about it, but the fact is that the best player in the world cheated and laughed about it. Thank goodness nowadays we have paragons of virtue such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who would never stoop this low…


1. The Reading “Goal”  (Reading v Watford)

Reading are on the attack, the ball gets kicked around a bit, a cross comes in by the byeline, Watford clear, a scramble, the Hornets clear again… Wait a moment, why is the linesman flagging? In a case of selective myopia that even Arsene Wenger would be hard pushed to match, the linesman has spotted the ball crossing the line and instructs the referee it is a goal. How? How inept do you have to be to get this wrong? Judge for yourself.


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