Sam Allardyce: Chelsea v Bolton 1978
My Favourite Goal by Ivor Baddiel.
Aaaarrrrggggh! One goal? I have to narrow it down to just one goal? It’s almost impossible, there are so many to choose from. And on what basis do I make that decision? If I went for a personal goal there’s the one I scored aged 7 with a tennis ball in the school playground. It was my first after a month off with appendicitis and I remember thinking, ‘yes, I’m back!’ Or the one from a game I played in once where a very large woman shot from about 40 yards out and the ball flew in past a hapless celebrity who was in goal. Literally everyone on the pitch pissed themselves laughing. Then there are the great iconic goals. Drogba’s in the Chelsea v Bayern Munich Champions League final, Zola’s in the Chelsea v Stuttgart Cup Winners Cup final, Lampard’s to win the title in 2005, Brazil’s fourth in the 1970 World Cup final, scored by Carlos Alberto and in my opinion the greatest goal of all time, I get shivers down my spine every time I watch it.
In the end I got it down to two. Wayne Bridge’s winner for Chelsea against Arsenal in the Champions league quarter final in 2004 and Sam Allardyce’s own goal that saw Chelsea complete an incredible comeback against Bolton in 1978. The Arsenal game took place 5 days after my son had been born and I’m ashamed to say I cried more when Bridge’s goal went in than when he popped out. Truth be told, it was probably latent emotion from his birth, but there’s no doubt that it also signalled the end of years of hurt and torment that Chelsea had suffered at the hands of Arsenal. However, that goal is going to have to be content with second place because I’m going to go for the goal against Bolton. Chelsea had been three nil down at half time and were frankly awful. They were three nil down with twenty minutes to go and were still awful. Then, Clive Walker came on and things went ballistic. I have never experienced a more breathless, unbelievable twenty minutes at a football match. It was an astonishing turnaround and as each goal went in the adrenalin increased such that by the time the fourth hit the back of the net, I was ecstatic. Shocked, amazed, overjoyed, sweaty, bonkers…basically, it was orgasmic, a twenty-minute build up to the most incredible explosion of unrestrained joy I have ever experienced at a football match. I don’t even think at the time I realized it was an own goal or that Sam Allardyce had scored it, but finding that out in hindsight, and certainly now, only makes it better. I’d love to say that that turnaround gave Chelsea the boost they needed to go on and have a great season, but they didn’t win again for 14 games and finished bottom of the league and were relegated. Perhaps it exhausted the players as much as it had exhausted me.
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