Thursday, 4 September 2014

1980s: Match of the Day Goal of the Season

Whilst watching the recent 50 years celebration programme about Match of the Day it struck me how big a deal the Goal of the Season award was during my formative years. So this week I am taking a look back on the ten winning goals during the 1980s, a collection of volleys, headers and screamers that I could watch again and again and again.

1979/80: Justin Fashanu - NORWICH v Liverpool

"Oh what a goal. That's a magnificent goal"

A goal that "conned me out of a million quid" according to Brian Clough in his first autobiography, Justin Fashanu's fantastic strike against saw him win the Match of the Day Goal of the Season award in 1979/80 (scored on February 7 1980, so I'm including it in my list). With his back to goal, Fashanu received a pass from John Ryan, flicked the ball up with his right foot - which wrong-footed Alan Kennedy - before crashing an unstoppable left foot volley past England keeper Ray Clemence.

Surprisingly perhaps, Fashanu's celebrations were a little muted, especially given the fact that he had just brought Norwich level against the champions with a goal of such quality. Norwich may have gone on to lose the match, but Fashanu had truly announced himself to the nation. After scouting the player throughout the 1980/81 season, Clough and Peter Taylor took the plunge to make Fashanu the first black £1 million player.

Fashanu's time at Forest was troubled to say the least, a flop on the pitch, his relationship with Clough completing broke down, as the manager constantly questioned Fashanu's off the field activities. From this point on, Fashanu's career was a tale of injuries and appearances for numerous clubs across the globe, and of course he will always be remembered for coming out in The Sun in 1990. When it was announced in May 1998 that Fashanu had committed suicide, the footballing world was shocked.

A fine talent, Fashanu will be forever remembered for his battles against racism and homophobia, and the tragic end to his life. In a time of less television coverage, the goal against Liverpool will be the moment that he will mostly be remembered for on the pitch. And what a moment it was.

1980/81: Tony Morley - Everton v ASTON VILLA

"Here's Tony Morley. Good running by him. Oh, what a great goal"

Aston Villa were three games into a seven match winning run that would go a long way to helping them to win the league title when they visited Goodison Park in February 1981. Winger Tony Morley, like many of his team mates, was in the middle of a purple patch himself, with his Goal of the Season winner giving Villa the lead in the first half.

Gary Shaw's turn and pass on the halfway line was impressive enough, but then Morley got to work. Running at the retreating Everton defence, Morley cut inside and lashed a rasping shot past Martin Hodge. Such was the form of winger Morley during Villa's title season that he worked his way into the England setup by the end of 1981, and although he would not make the World Cup squad - despite singing on the World Cup single - he had the consolation of being a European Cup winner, his part in Peter Withe's winner legendary.  

In truth, although a Villa man won the award, there is a good chance that Ricky Villa might have beaten Morley to the prize, had the voting taken place after the 1981 FA Cup final replay. Yet this was not Morley's fault, and there can be no doubting that at the time of the vote, his goal was a deserving winner.

1981/82: Cyrille Regis - WEST BROM v Norwich

"Oh and what a great shot. Oh, one of the goals of the season"

If ever a goal highlighted the strengths of a particular player, then Cyrille Regis' FA Cup fifth round winner at The Hawthorns was one such example. Taking the ball neatly on his chest, Regis slipped the first defender, brushed off another flailing effort to slow him down, before unleashing a pile driver beyond Chris Woods. Unstoppable in many ways.

Ten days later Regis would make his England debut, but would be the second in this list to make the cut for the team single yet miss out on Ron Greenwood's World Cup squad. Given his ability, it is a little surprising that Regis did not earn more than his five caps for his country. As this goal demonstrated, Regis certainly had all the attributes to succeed at the highest level, as West Brom and Coventry fans would no doubt back up.

1982/83: Kenny Dalglish - Belgium v SCOTLAND

"And that is a goal to remember. Marvellous play by Kenny Dalglish..."

The first winner in the 1980s to appear on the international stage, Kenny Dalglish's "brilliant piece of trickery" as The Times described it, may have come in a losing cause, but still rightfully earned praise and plaudits. A majestic turn on the corner of the penalty area completely flummoxed a Belgian defender, with more nimble footwork bringing him past another, and the finish wasn't bad either.

Looking up, Dalglish curled a left-footed effort past Jean-Marie Pfaff, and wheeled away in delight at what he had just accomplished, partly due to the fact that he had received heavy criticism for being unable to reproduce his superb club form at international level. Scotland may have lost, yet Dalglish's two goals, and the nature of his second, was the best possible response to any doubters.

1983/84: Danny Wallace - SOUTHAMPTON v Liverpool 

"Wallace. Oh I say, what a magnificent goal"

To prove it wasn't a fluke, Dalglish would pull off two similar finishes shortlisted in the 1983/84 Goal of the Season competition, but he would be pipped by a goal that he probably had a good view of at the time.  

Danny Wallace's acrobatic overhead kick was an extraordinary piece of skill, one that left me open-mouthed in wonder as I sat and watched the live Friday night coverage on BBC1. As someone sick and tired of seeing Liverpool dominate, the goal was even more enjoyable, although trying to replicate it in my front room with a sponge ball nearly broke my back.

I wasn't used to seeing such stunning quality on an English football pitch, so to witness this moment was genuinely exciting. Naturally Liverpool brushed themselves down after this defeat and won three trophies, but on this Friday night Danny Wallace proved that occasionally style can triumph over substance.

1984/85: Graeme Sharp - Liverpool v EVERTON

"What a fantastic goal. An unbelievable finish from Graeme Sharp"

Liverpool were again on the receiving end of a Goal of the Season winner, but this strike carried much more significance. Graeme Sharp's wonder goal not only gave Everton their first league win at Anfield since 1970, it also gave the players the belief that they could build on their 1984 FA Cup final success and challenge for the title.

Everything about Sharp's goal was thrilling from an Everton perspective. His control from Gary Stevens' pass was perfect, allowing him to get in behind Mark Lawrenson and unleash fury with his right boot. After the ball dipped and flew beyond Bruce Grobbelaar, Sharp leapt through the air in celebration, joined by both players and fans, all ecstatic at the glory and magnitude of the goal.

Everton's superb 1984/85 season consisted of many magical moments; superb Neville Southall displays; that match against Bayern Munich at Goodison Park; a memorable night in Rotterdam; their first league title since 1970. Sharp's goal sits easily amongst these key incidents, a vital stepping stone in their glorious season.

1985/86: Bryan Robson - Israel v ENGLAND


Anyone unlucky enough to score a blinder in the first few months of the 1985/86 season must have been gutted. Due to a television blackout - the club chairmen and the television companies could not come to an agreement over the rights - the Goal of the Season contenders were limited to efforts registered from January 1986 onwards.

The winner was Manchester United's and England's very own Captain Marvel. Bryan Robson's fine volley after a typical run from midfield brought England level in their friendly in Tel Aviv, and was a fitting way to mark his 50th appearance for his country. When Robson netted England's late winner, his importance to England were underlined.

Robson was also crucial to his club Manchester United. At the time of Robson's brace in Israel, United were just three points off the top of the table (with a game in hand), but soon afterwards his dislocated shoulder suffered at West Ham derailed United's championship bid, and cast a huge cloud over England's World Cup preparations. That the absence of one man could cause such concern indicated just how important Robson was to club and country.

1986/87: Keith Houchen - COVENTRY v Tottenham

"The man with the Midas touch in the FA Cup, strikes gold for Coventry"

Keith Houchen had a thing for the FA Cup. From his penalty for York against Arsenal to his exploits during Coventry's run to the final in 1987, Houchen's love of the competition was clear for all to see. And on May 16 1987, he chose the biggest occasion of all to seal his love-love relationship with the famous trophy.  

Houchen's full-length diving header from Dave Bennett's gorgeous cross brought Coventry level for the second time in the match, Tottenham seemingly unable to shake off their supposedly inferior opponents, as City fans (and Jimmy Hill on national television) joyously celebrated. One of the greatest goals in the FA Cup final allowed Coventry to take the game into extra-time and subsequently win their first major trophy in their 104-year history.

Like the Wallace goal, I tried my best to replicate the moment straight after the match, but all I got for my troubles was a mouthful of mud, and sore ribs. 

1987/88: John Aldridge - LIVERPOOL v Nottingham Forest

"Liverpool come out of defence, and snatch a vital goal"

What a team Liverpool were in the 1987/88 season. Their first league defeat came in their 30th match, and for the most part of the campaign Liverpool's second double in two years seemed an inevitability. The Crazy Gang put an end to that dream, but on the way to Wembley John Aldridge managed to score a goal that won him the Match of the Day award.

Aldridge's volley from John Barnes' measured cross was a top, top goal as Harry Redknapp might say, yet in my humble opinion Barnes himself was unlucky not to win the award for this effort against QPR. Mind you, there were a few to choose from, as the contenders for the Goal of the Season prize were solely made up of Liverpool players. That was how dominant Liverpool were that season, and how revered they were (by the BBC at least).

1988/89: John Aldridge - LIVERPOOL v Everton

"The man who missed a penalty here last season in the Cup final didn't take long to make up for it"

Liverpool's loss to Wimbledon in the 1988 Cup final was a personal nightmare for Aldridge. With his last kick of the match he became the first player to miss a penalty in a Wembley FA Cup final, as Dave Beasant's heroics ensured that the Crazy Gang defeated the Culture Club. But Liverpool being Liverpool, they made it back to Wembley a year later, to take part in an emotional Merseyside final after the tragic events at Hillsborough, giving Aldridge the chance to right his wrong of 1988.

Indeed Aldridge would make amends with his first touch at Wembley, finishing off a sweeping move involving Steve Nicol and Steve McMahon, to give Liverpool the lead after just four minutes. Aldridge's calm shot was only a few yards from the very spot that caused him so much anguish the year before; talk about closure. He may have ended up being substituted again, but Liverpool's 3-2 win, as well as his Goal of the Season, made it a much happier visit to the Twin Towers for Aldridge in 1989.

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