Richard Dunne increased his splendid tally of Premier League own goals to nine this weekend, stretching further ahead of Jamie Carragher in the all-time list for putting one past your own keeper in comical fashion.
To celebrate this fine achievement the Cutter pays tribute to the hackers, slashers and all-round unfortunates who crumble in shame and dejection to a chorus of derision whilst an opposition striker sympathetically pats them on the head beaming in evil glee.
Football just wouldn’t be the same without these perennial gaffe-merchants and we heartily salute them.
The Dunney-Monster illustrates perfectly here just how difficult the lot of a centre-back can be. With just five minutes remaining to a game City had dominated throughout the ball is punted forward for the ever-prowling Robert Earnshaw. With David James stuck in no-mans land the ball lands at the feet of the stocky Irishman. His options are limited and all of them doomed to failure. In retrospect the best course of action is to simply stand on the ball and fall over but that goes against all of his life’s programming. His defensive instincts kick in and he briefly deliberates his two choices – either knock it back to his keeper…but how can he when James is so close? Or hoof it into row z….but how can he when the blasted thing plops down in exactly the one place where it denies him the chance to adjust his footing? Instead Dunney settles on nonexistent option C and opts to take it in his stride, with the inevitable disastrous consequences.
2/ The downright comical
It’s a routine clearance this defender has probably done thousands of times with the minimum of fuss. He watches the ball drop from the sky and, with no attackers near, it’s simply a case of hooking it away. Standard.
Except on this occasion there’s a pesky obstacle that appears from nowhere and instantly makes the Bury man a YouTube star….his own face.
3/ The rush of blood to the head
Sometimes calamities occur that just defy all logic and explanation and this mystifying moment of madness certainly falls into that bracket. Though we like to think there was more to it than a temporary outbreak of insanity. Perhaps for a split-second as the ball trickled back out towards him this Russian defender had a flashback to the hurtful words of his junior coach informing him that he’d never make it as a striker.
‘No composure hey? Finishing woeful is it? I’ll show you….oh shit’.
4/ The slice
Alan Smith artfully demonstrates here that it’s not always possible to get your laces through the ball and hoof it downfield. If you take your eye off it just for an instant your co-ordination struggles to catch up and you end up looking like a debutant on Hackney marshes. Couldn’t happen to a nicer fella.
5/ The cruel hand of fate
‘It has to go down in the record books as a Gary Neville own-goal’.
Just as Mr Spock was incapable of feeling human emotion it is physically impossible for a sentient being to emit sympathy for Ratboy. Though on this occasion it is hard not to feel something akin to it. In a tight spot Neville plays a perfectly weighted back-pass to his keeper – even making sure it reaches him on his favoured foot – only for the cruel hand of fate to intervene and manifest a small clump of turf which the ball bobbles over.
For this particular Welsh City fan it prompted a few enjoyable reruns of My Name Is Earl after a renewed belief in karma.
6/ The brilliant mistake
Like the weirdo in American Beauty attested – the lad with the eyebrows and unnerving stare – you can find beauty in the strangest places. In his case it was a plastic bag dancing in the breeze. Here it’s a rubbish Aussie defender discovering a talent he never knew he possessed at the worst possible time. With one glorious Zola-esque flick Tony Popovic proves you can make even the stupidest gaffe an aesthetic work of art.
7/ The fatal error
Commentators often delight in using overly dramatic terminology especially where own goals are concerned. A slice into the roof of your own net is ‘costly’. A slight knick becomes a ‘fateful touch’. An interception gone wrong is ‘fatal’.
In the 1994 World Cup Columbia took on the USA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. With half an hour gone and the game scoreless Andre Escobar attempted to block a low drive into the box by sticking out his right leg. The direction in which it took ultimately cost him his life.
A month later, back home in Medellin four men approached the player who was nicknamed “El Caballero del Futbol” (‘the gentleman of football’) and fired twelve bullets into him as he sat in his car after a night out with friends. For each one they shouted in Spanish ‘thanks for the own goal’.
It is generally believed that powerful Columbian drug lords lost a considerable amount of money by betting on their country to triumph. The blame fell on Escobar and a 27-year old who was due to marry his long-term sweetheart was brutally murdered.