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Jul 21, 2011

Own goals

After Arsenal new boy Carl Jenkinson scored one of the more memorable own goals in recent times during a pre-season friendly at the weekend, First XI takes a look at some of the most significant to have graced the game.

Lord Arthur Kinnaird (1877)

One of the great early characters in football's founding years, Lord Kinnaird, with his giant red beard and white knickerbockers, was part of the first generation of public schoolboy players. He participated in nine FA Cup finals, winning five, and was president of the Football Association from 1890 until his death in 1923. He also scored the most significant own goal of the era, though he managed to have it scratched from the history books for the best part of a century.

Kinnaird was capable of playing in many positions, and scored in the second ever cup final in 1873 while playing as a forward, but for his fourth cup final appearance, in 1877, he was named Wanderers' 'keeper. Within 15 minutes of the kick-off, he had cost his side a goal. Oxford University half-back Evelyn Waddington, "by a long good shot", had forced the opener as Kinnaird caught the ball but apparently stepped back over his line. After consultation between the officials, the goal was awarded. Wanderers then scored an equaliser and, after the teams agreed to play 30 minutes of extra-time, added a second to seal a 2-1 win. However, Kinnaird was not satisfied. He told the FA, in his position as a committeeman, that he believed he had not carried the ball over the line, and the score was officially amended to a 2-0 win. Over half a century after Kinnaird's death, though, historians uncovered enough evidence from contemporary match reports to convince the FA to reinstate Kinnaird's own goal, and the original result now stands: Wanderers 2-1 Oxford University.

Gershom Cox (1888)

The first ever goal in the English Football League was an own goal. Cox, a full-back with Aston Villa, kicked the ball past goalkeeper Jimmy Warner in a 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers on the opening day of the first ever league season.

Preston's 'Invincibles' side were actually the quickest off the mark that day - it took them just three minutes to break the deadlock in their 5-2 win against Burnley - but Cox's goal, after half an hour, arrived first as Villa's game kicked off 50 minutes earlier.

Samuel Wynne (1923)

In Oldham's 3-2 win at home to Manchester United, Wynne scored four of the five goals in what The Guardian described at the time as "surely the most amazing 90 minutes ever experienced by a league full-back".

Wynne got off to a bad start when he headed a corner into his own net on seven minutes, but he levelled the scores with a penalty on the half hour before a team-mate, Billy Howson, made it 2-1 early in the second half. Wynne then doubled Oldham's advantage through a free-kick, but he set up a tense finish by kneeing a corner into his own net.

Gary Sprake (1967)

It was a snowy day at Anfield in December 1967 as second-placed Liverpool led fourth-placed Leeds United 1-0. Just before half-time, Leeds goalkeeper Sprake gathered the ball and attempted to throw it to Terry Cooper but, when the full-back was closed down by Ian Callaghan, instead threw it directly into his own net.

Referee Jim Finney said Leeds defender Jack Charlton, further up the field and unaware of the incident, asked him what had happened. When Finney explained, Charlton replied: "You're not going to give a goal for that?"

At half-time, the speakers at Anfield blared out the Des O'Connor song Careless Hands and The Scaffold's Thank U Very Much and, though Sprake was inspirational in the second half, Leeds went down to a 2-0 defeat and 'Careless Hands' stuck as his nickname.

"That day at Liverpool I actually had a good game," Sprake later said. "At half-time the lads told me: 'Come on, get yourself together. We can do better'. I never got much stick off the supporters, then or now. It has mainly been the ex-players' books."

Gary Mabbutt (1987)

Coventry secured the only major trophy in their history when they beat Tottenham 3-2 courtesy of a deflection from Gary Mabbutt's knee in extra time.

Spurs had led twice in the first half, with Mabbutt having made it 2-1 five minutes before the break, but Coventry striker Keith Houchen ensured the game went to extra-time with a memorable diving header in the 63rd minute. In the 96th minute, when Lloyd McGrath put the ball into the centre, Mabbutt was on hand to divert the ball over goalkeeper Ray Clemence.

Tottenham fans welcomed the team back afterwards with a 'We don't blame Mabbutt' placard, but the defender has felt the greatest warmth over the years from the Sky Blues fans. A famous Coventry fanzine was published entitled Gary Mabbutt's Knee, and the player later told Sport.co.uk: "It was obviously very disappointing, being the first cup final Tottenham had ever lost, but I'm an absolute legend in the Midlands. I've got free food and drink for life. Everywhere I go, I've got Coventry fans coming up wanting pictures with me of them kissing my left knee."

Tony Sealy (1994)

The qualifying round of the 1994 Caribbean Cup served up one of the most extraordinary sights ever seen in football. In Group 1, Grenada were preparing to play their final game in Barbados knowing they would go through to the finals unless they lost by two or more goals.

Their hopes of qualification looked to be hanging by a thread as they trailed 2-0 to Barbados going into the last few minutes, but they made it 2-1 in the 83rd minute and were on course to progress on goal difference.

However, Barbados had a lifeline. Under the bizarre rules of the tournament, a drawn game would go into sudden death extra-time, and the winning team would be credited with a two-goal win. That meant that, rather than spend the final minutes desperately trying to score, Barbados would be able to give themselves extra time - literally - by conceding another goal.

Barbados defender Sealy subsequently exchanged passes with his goalkeeper, Horace Stout, before tapping into his own net for 2-2. Grenada, though, could then score in either goal as both a one-goal victory or one-goal defeat were sufficient to secure qualification. Barbados were therefore forced to desperately defend both goals to prevent Grenada scoring.

Barbados held on and, four minutes into extra-time, they scored through a left-footed blast from Trevor Thorne to seal what went down as a 4-2 win. Grenada coach James Clarkson was understandably unhappy in the aftermath. "I feel cheated," he said. "The person who came up with these rules must be a candidate for the madhouse. Our players didn't know which direction to go. I've never seen a team trying to score [against] themselves to win a game."

Andres Escobar (1994)

Colombia had been tipped for big things at the 1994 World Cup, but their dream ended almost as soon as it had begun. They lost their opener 3-1 to Romania and, in their second game, Escobar scored an own goal after 34 minutes that set his team on course for a 2-1 defeat to USA.

That result, ludicrously hyperbolised in the Los Angeles Times as the greatest World Cup shock of all time, left Colombia with no prospect of reaching the second round.

The spotlight turned to Colombia's performance, which had been so abject as to arouse suspicions of match-fixing. Colombia boss Francisco Maturana said twice in his post-match press conference that his players couldn't have done so badly had they tried so as to defend his players against any such allegations without actually referencing them. "We just basically stunk out the field," he said.

As more information emerged, it appeared the Colombian team had not been paid off but scared off. Defender Gabriel Gomez had withdrawn from the USA game and announced his retirement because the team had received a warning via fax that, if he played, his family back in Medellin would be blown up. Other players had also reportedly been threatened and Maturana was said to have resigned in tears ahead of the match before being persuaded to battle on.

In the end, Escobar - who had told newspapers that the team's exit was "not the end of the world" - was the one to pay the price. When he returned to Medellin, he was repeatedly shot in a car park, with one of his assailants said to have grabbed him by the shoulder before shouting: "Thanks for the own goal".

Humberto de la Calle, Colombia's newly elected vice-president, said afterwards: "Colombia's problem is that football is no longer a sport, it seems, but a matter of life and death."

Nicola Caricola (1996)

A strong New York franchise had been considered vital for the Major League Soccer in its inaugural season, and it was expected that the MetroStars would be one of the early heavyweights with Italian duo Roberto Donadoni and Nicola Caricola among their ranks.

Donadoni was still playing for AC Milan when the MetroStars' season kicked off in April 1996, but 33-year-old Caricola, a European Cup winner with Juventus in 1985, was on hand to lend experience.

His debut did not go as planned - Caricola deflected the decisive goal into his own net in a 2-1 defeat to LA Galaxy - but, when the MetroStars made their first home appearance in front of over 46,000 fans at Giants Stadium against New England Revolution, he had been quietly making amends during an impressive first 89 minutes and 49 seconds with the game poised at 0-0.

Then disaster struck: Caricola again put the ball into his own net, and this time in quite extraordinary fashion. "I tried to kick it to the side, but somebody touched my heel on my left leg and I missed it," he explained. "It's very sad that it happened because I played well for 90 minutes. In all my years in Italy I have two own goals and now I have two in two weeks."

Having waited over a decade for the sport to return since the end of the New York Cosmos in 1985, the New York Times was unforgiving. "It took 11 years for the great Melting Pot to finally cook up another team," its match report began, "and then it took 89 minutes to botch the taste".

Caricola's contribution was not easily forgotten by the fans, either, as the team suffered endless disappointments over the years to come: whenever the team conceded late on or scored an own goal, the 'Curse of Caricola' would be evoked.

Mursyid Effendi (1998)

Both Thailand and Indonesia were assured of progress from Group A in the 1998 Tiger Cup when they met at the Thong Nhat Stadium, and they also knew that the winners would have to face hosts and favourites Vietnam.

As such, neither Thailand nor Indonesia appeared to making any effort during their final group game meeting. With 90 minutes on the clock, the score was 2-2, but Indonesia grasped the nettle in injury time as defender Effendi curled the ball past his own goalkeeper. Indonesia had secured a hard-earned 3-2 defeat and a semi-final tie with Singapore.

However, although Thailand subsequently lost 3-0 to Vietnam, Indonesia were then beaten 2-1 by Singapore, who went on to win the tournament.

In the aftermath, both Indonesia and Thailand were fined $40,000 by the ASEAN Football Federation - the regional South East Asian body - while the entire Thailand management team resigned and Effendi was given a life ban.

The AFF then dropped the fines and simply withheld the teams' prize money, but the Asian Football Confederation decided that serious action needed to be taken against the "farcical match" and promptly suspended both teams from international football. "This match brought gross disrepute to the game of football and also to the image of Asian football," AFC general secretary Peter Velappan said.

Jamie Pollock (1998)

Pollock's was not only one of the more spectacular own goals of all time but also effectively condemned Manchester City to their first ever season in the third tier.

It had been an odd day. City were taking on QPR in a relegation dogfight at Maine Road and needed to win to keep their destiny in their own hands. Georgi Kinkladze, their inspirational Georgian midfielder, had been met in the car park before the game by an elderly City fan performing a war dance to lift the curse on the team.

Kinkladze duly opened the scoring within 40 seconds of the kick-off, but his team-mates remained bedevilled: seven minutes later, goalkeeper Martyn Margetson picked up a backpass, which enabled Mike Sheron to equalise and, on 21 minutes, Pollock handed QPR the lead when he broke up an attack before looping a header spectacularly over Margetson.

Lee Bradbury levelled just after half-time, but City could not find a winner; QPR were out of reach, and Portsmouth's win over Bradford on the final day sent them down.

Later in 1998, QPR fans thanked Pollock by voting him the most influential man of the previous 2,000 years on a website poll. "Jesus came second, apparently," Pollock said. "It was cruel of QPR fans to vote for me because that own goal was the lowest point of my career, but I certainly had a laugh when I heard about the poll."

Chris Brass (2006)

With three games of the season remaining, Bury had been just three points clear of relegation from the Football League when they travelled to play-off hopefuls Darlington in April 2006.

"We are playing for more than our futures," defender Chris Brass told the Bury Times ahead of the game. "We are playing for the future of Bury Football Club and the people that work in the offices. You want someone to step forward now and start putting the ball in the back of the net."

Brass did indeed put the ball into the net just eight minutes into the game at Darlington when, attempting to hook the ball clear over his shoulder, the ball slammed into his own face and then into his own goal. When replayed on the big screen at the stadium, it was greeted by laughter rather than cheers from the Darlington fans, and Bury boss Chris Casper nearly joined in. "I didn't know whether to laugh or cry," he said afterwards. "I think I was closer to crying."

Bury eventually battled back to clinch a dramatic 3-2 victory that went a long way towards securing the club's eventual survival.

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