Thursday, 15 September 2016

1980s: Goalkeeping gaffs

Claudio Bravo made a much publicised error on his recent Man City debut, but I'm not sure if his cock up matched any of the following goalkeeping bloopers from the 1980s.

1980: John Lukic

Two for the price of one to kick us off. Come the end of this harrowing afternoon, a 19-year-old John Lukic received a commiserative arm around the shoulder from Arsenal coach Don Howe, as Arsenal crushed Leeds 5-0 at Elland Road. Despite the shaky performance of the England U21 international, within three years Lukic would be plying his trade under Terry Neill and Howe. Luckily for Lukic, this type of display was fairly unusual.

In just the second minute of Leeds' home clash with Arsenal, John Hollins got to the byline and drove in a hopeful cross - "All I wanted to do was keep the ball in play" - only for Lukic to push the ball into his own net. But his nightmare wasn't over. Arsenal's third would involve the same combo, as Hollins' shot somehow crossed the line via a pinball move off of Lukic's arm, hands, leg and heel. Poor John ended up scrambling about for the ball like a drunk man trying to find his keys that he's dropped outside his house. It was uncomfortable viewing.

Lukic would eventually replace the next man on our list, and win the title with both of the clubs involved in his 90 minutes of pain on that November day in 1980. But this must have felt a million miles away as he trudged off the pitch with Howe for company.

1982: Pat Jennings

I'm not really sure I want to do this. Big Pat simply didn't do mistakes, so his error in the FA Cup third round, at White Hart Lane of all places, was a terrible moment for any Arsenal supporter. Garth Crooks' strike from outside the box was pretty weak, Jennings later comparing it to a back pass, yet when it squeezed under the hands of Arsenal's keeper there was a genuine feeling of amazement. When a groin injury forced Jennings to limp off with 15 minutes to go - Peter Nicholas taking his place in goal - his hideous day in N17 was complete.

Reading his autobiography gives you an indication of the incident that he stated "will haunt me for the rest of my days". "To this day I couldn't tell you how or why the ball got past me," Jennings comments. "At the moment it happened I just wished the ground would open up and swallow me. I lay awake for hours that night trying to work out how I could have been so stupid."

"The thing which hurt the most of all was that my Cup error cost Arsenal the match". Indeed it did. For Arsenal fans, Jennings couldn't have picked a worse time to make his blunder. It didn't help that Tottenham would go on to defend the FA Cup successfully either.

1982: Waldir Peres

Ah, the Brazil 1982 World Cup team. Junior, Eder, Socrates, Falcao, Zico. And Serginho. And Waldir Peres. The Brazilian keeper may have enjoyed playing behind such a thrilling attacking unit in Spain, but defensively the team was prone to throwing in the odd error. Starting with Peres in opening group match against the USSR.

"Oh, that's not a bad try, and it's in," Barry Davies declared as Andriy Bal let fly from 20 yards out, although in truth the effort was far from impressive. Bal's effort did dip awkwardly and landed just in front of Peres, but the keeper hardly did himself any favours in tossing the goalkeepers text book aside by failing to get his body anywhere near the ball. A half-hearted attempt at keeping out Bal's shot, Peres got down to the ball with all the agility of a 41-year-old with a bad back. And I should know a thing or two about that.

1983: Ray Clemence

Sky may have recently tried to convince us that they invented live Friday night top flight football, but some of us with a memory prior to 1992 fondly recall the era in which the BBC screened the first ever live League match on this night of the week. And what a cracker it turned out to be; Manchester United 4-2 Tottenham was a memorable occasion, but one that Ray Clemence may want to forget.

Clemence had already been involved in an "After you, Claude" moment with Gary Stevens, before his rare mistake in the 80th minute. Failing to hold a simple Frank Stapleton header, Clemence was helpless as Kevin Moran fired in the final goal of the match.

"And Clemence is mortified," cried John Motson, as the Tottenham keeper laid face-down in the muddy goal mouth in front of the Stretford End. Clem's nightmare and Clem's clanger dominated the back pages, but as we will find out later, this was far from the worst Tottenham goalkeeping blunder of the 1980s.

1984: Luis Arconada

To many in Northern Ireland, Luis Arconada will be forever linked with Gerry Armstrong's goal in the 1982 World Cup, but the Spanish keeper would also have an unfortunate moment of fame linked with the European Championships. Throughout the tournament, Arconada had been superb, his saves against West Germany playing a huge part in Spain reaching the semi-final. Yet such is the lot of the goalkeeper, that Arconada's Euro 84 would be remembered for the wrong reason.

Michel Platini's free kick in the final should not have beaten Arconada, indeed the Spanish keeper seemed to have saved the effort. But then disaster. The ball squirmed under the keeper, Arconada trying desperately to recover, as slowly it dawned upon everyone what had happened. Just like Oliver Kahn in 2002, Arconada had chosen an inopportune moment to blot his copybook.

1985: Gary Bailey

Not the ideal international debut for Manchester United's Gary Bailey. England were beating the Republic of Ireland comfortably, goals from Trevor Steven and Gary Lineker separating the teams, when Bailey was called upon to deal with his first shot on target of the evening. As Liam Brady moved towards the England goal, there seemed very little danger. But then calamity for England's debutant.

The shot across goal was hardly a piledriver, yet Bailey allowed Brady's effort to squeeze under his body and dribble apologetically over the line, somehow being beaten at his near post when the original attempt had been heading towards the far post.

Picking the ball out of the net, Bailey thought it best to hide his embarrassment by clapping enthusiastically and geeing up the rest of the England team. Not the greatest way to impress on a rare opportunity at international level for Bailey, and the United keeper would only ever play for England one more time.

1986: Eddie Niedzwiecki

I'm not 100% sure that Pep Guardiola would have been a big fan of Chelsea's Eddie Niedzwiecki, judging by his work during the second half of extra time in the League Cup quarter final replay against QPR. Chelsea were trailing 1-0 with minutes to go, as Niedzwiecki moved purposefully from his goal, looking to launch one more attack to get his team back into the tie. And then it all went wrong.

It was the third touch that really did for Niedzwiecki; certainly not a slightest touch, as Five Starr might have desired, but a cumbersome effort that saw the ball move dangerously away from the keeper. Stretching desperately to reach the ball, Niedzwiecki only succeeded in finding QPR's Michael Robinson, and as the forward launched a shot from the halfway line, Niedzwiecki could only look on as the ball bounced towards and into the empty net.

Danny Baker's commentary on this goal in his excellent Own Goals and Gaffes video (Part I) is spot on. Pretending to be the voice inside Niedzwiecki's head, Baker takes up the story: "Tell you what, I'm as good as those blokes up the front". Yet the voice of reason replies: "Er, no you're not. And look what you've done". Quite.

1986: Bruce Grobbelaar

A goalkeeping error that appeared to be fatal to Liverpool's title hopes at the time. Bruce Grobbelaar's aberration in the Merseyside derby of February 1986 saw Everton take the lead in a fiercely contested match, as Kevin Ratcliffe's speculative effort squeezed through the grasp of Liverpool's keeper, and when Gary Lineker clinched the match late on, Everton crossed back over Stanley Park holding an eight point lead over their neighbours with just twelve matches remaining.

It looked like the beginning of the end for Liverpool, yet it proved to be the kick up the arse they needed. Claiming 34 out of the 36 points left to play for, Liverpool marched to the title, and clinched an unbelievable double when they defeated Everton in the FA Cup final. With the score at 1-1 at Wembley, Grobbelaar flew through the air to pull off a dramatic and crucial save from Graeme Sharp's header, and a little over a minute later Liverpool took the lead and never looked back.

Liverpool supporters had to learn to take the bad with the good when it came to Bruce Grobbelaar, and these two incidents against Everton were a prime example of this. From clown to match winner, things were very rarely dull where Brucie was involved.

1988: Simon Tracey

File this under how not to make a good impression on your League debut. After the transfer of FA Cup final hero Dave Beasant to Newcastle, Wimbledon reserve keeper Simon Tracey was given a chance to establish himself in the team. A solid performance in the Charity Shield was encouraging, but just one week later, Tracey dropped a clanger that would spell the end of his time at the club.

Wimbledon were leading 1-0 when Tracey gifted Arsenal a goal that opened the floodgates. Back pedalling to deal with a Brian Marwood cross, Tracey fell back into his goal, carrying the ball over the line in the process. Getting to his feet and drop kicking the ball away, Tracey then dipped his head in shame as he contemplated his mistake.

The incident would have a damaging effect on the day for Wimbledon, and for Tracey's future. Arsenal sensed blood, their 5-1 victory an ideal way to kick off a League campaign where literally every goal would be vital. Tracey on the other hand was dropped, never played for Wimbledon again, and by October had moved to Sheffield United. For Tracey, it definitely wasn't such a wonderful world during his time at Wimbledon.

1988: Bobby Mimms

A moment of such staggering ineptitude, Bobby Mimms' entry into the hall of shame was guaranteed after this ricket at Loftus Road. Quite how he managed it is still unknown, but as David Kerslake's plastic daisy cutter rolled towards Mimms, maybe his mind was elsewhere?

Mimms' early displays since his £375,000 move from Everton had been strewn with errors, but this blunder was simply on another level. As the ball squirted through Mimms' body, and a young Massimo Taibi looked on admiringly, Tottenham's keeper remained curled up in a ball, attempting to ignore Peter Schmeichel's advice and making himself as small as possible. If Chris Fairclough had not picked up a distraught Mimms, he may well have still been in that position when the Loftus Road Omniturf was rolled up shortly afterwards.

The press were naturally sympathetic; the Daily Mirror renamed the keeper Booby Mimms, and kindly described each of his goalkeeping gaffes during his short time at the club. But the final word, or guffaw, has to come from Ian St. John. As Danny Baker so rightly states in his Own Goals and Gaffes video (Part II), the former Liverpool forward summed up Mimms' efforts so ably with a few well-chosen words.

1988: Bjarte Flem

The Bobby Mimms Conundrum might sound like an Indie band, but for Tottenham boss Terry Venables the signing of Mimms from Everton turned out to be a complete nightmare. By the end of 1988, El Tel's search for a replacement would eventually be solved by a Norwegian plying his trade in Sweden. If Venables had actually scouted in the land of Erik Thorstvedt's birth, then the chances are that he might have avoided Bjarte Flem, after the Tromsø keeper made the kind of mistake that became the benchmark in Norway for cock-ups (a goalkeeping equivalent of Ronny Rosenthal, if you like).

If we're being generous, then the incident involving Flem was unfortunate. Even more unfortunate was the fact that the clanger was shown live on Norwegian television, and even before the days of YouTube, this meant that the clip would be repeated ad nauseam to the amusement of the viewer throughout the world. Attempting to throw the ball out to a team mate, Flem obviously thought better of it, yet in changing his mind he signed his own death warrant.

Yes, yes, the own goal is hilarious, but there are also a couple of side dishes that make the meal complete. The defender on the edge of the box turning around to realise the full horror of the mistake is marvellous, yet it is the resignation of Flem that makes it for me. As he releases the ball that split second too late, Flem watches helplessly as it bounces towards the net, trotting towards his goal wearing the body language of a man who can just see the bus pulling away from his stop. An absolute classic.

1989: Erik Thorstvedt

The worrying slump in form of Mimms forced Venables to make a move in the market, and in December 1988 Norwegian international Erik Thorstvedt was signed. Strangely, Mimms immediately put in a few decent displays, and a bout of influenza also delayed Thorstvedt's introduction to the English game. But come Sunday January 15, Thorstvedt would finally make his debut in a live match against Nottingham Forest on ITV.

Oh dear. Tottenham were already 1-0 down and struggling to cope with Forest when the debutant announced himself to the watching nation. Letting a Nigel Clough drive slip through his fingers, Thorstvedt immediately slumped to his knees in horror at what he had just done. "Thor blimey!" blared the Daily Express back page the following day. "New boy Erik's big day turns into a Viking funeral".

"It is the worst mistake I have ever made," Thorstvedt admitted. "I have never done anything like it before." In time, though, Thorstvedt would brush off the Erik the Unready tag, and win the 1991 FA Cup in a seven year Tottenham career, and also helped Norway qualify for the 1994 World Cup at the expense of England. So, he might have provided us with a few laughs on his Tottenham debut, but maybe he had the last chuckle after all.

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