The Time I Scored The Goal Of The Millennium


It seems appropriate to be blogging about (Association) football with the final stages of the World Cup looming. I’ve shared the following story elsewhere before, and it’s likely to have been told by thousands of people that will have heard about it from a friend that claimed to have been present to witness it. It’s undoubtedly one of the most incredible events ever to have happened on a football field in this country but unfortunately the reality is that there were very few witnesses. You could say this is the football equivalent of the Sex Pistols playing at Manchester’s free trade hall, when there was an audience of about a dozen but every musician to come from Manchester since then claims to have been there that night. I know one thing about this tale, though – I was absolutely there. In fact, I had the starring role!

We had started playing five-a-side after work. Whoever fancied a game on a Wednesday went from our workplace, Global Travel, to Deeside Leisure Centre and kicked a ball around in an uncoordinated manner. We were keen but unfit and none of us had played football for years. The idea was that we’d soon get fit and healthy, which was a bit strange as for most of us the most important thing was the opportunity for post-game refreshments in the pub. Bonding, you could call it. In a matter of weeks there were ill-advised calls to put our ever-improving skills to a proper test by grabbing some of our more athletic mates and enter a proper Sunday League. We were fair though – even our non-athletic mates were considered as long as they were willing to come for a beer afterwards. Unsurprisingly, we soon had enough names. And so it was that we embarked on a beautiful journey into the Beautiful Game. Global Travel FC took their place in Division 10 of the Chester & District Sunday League.

We were so proud of the team we had formed that when Chester City were drawn away at the mighty Aston Villa in the League Cup we decided to attend the game whilst wearing our team shirts with the Global Travel logo emblazoned on the front. Lee, the club treasurer and secretary, was an avid Villa fan and there were around 10 team members that joined him in the away end. When we took our seats in the North Stand on 21st September 1999 we were greeted with applause by the travelling supporters. Well, applause and giggles. I say giggles, maybe ‘uproarious laughter’ is a more appropriate description. You see, it was plain to see from the early season results that Global Travel FC were bloody hopeless! In the blink of an eye our endeavours had filtered into Chester footballing folklore.


See, this was in the days before everyone you knew went to the gym. Our match preparation involved going to Scruffy Murphy’s and getting wellied on Saturday night, then meeting at Popeye’s house for bacon butties on Sunday morning where the previous night’s exploits were discussed with much more enthusiasm than any team tactics. When we got to the pitch we took it as seriously as any team but just didn’t have the ability to compete, even at that lowly standard. We had players that ‘warmed up’ prior to taking to the field by eating a packet of Flamin’ Hot Monster Munch. We had Gavin, who once came on as substitute, ran around for 10 minutes without touching the ball and then needed to be substituted himself with exhaustion. We knew he was exhausted because he crawled to the touchline on his hands and knees and then, somehow, fell off the pitch.

During one of our first games our ‘talismanic’ striker, the 6ft 5″ Steve Hoy, was lumbering around in trademark fashion that was 10% Emile Heskey, 90% Weeping Willow tree. The ball had eluded him and he strived desperately to get to it before his opponent. Unfortunately he got there late. Very late. In fact, once the opponent landed on the ground again the look on his face was one of pure bewilderment. Once you’d passed the ball to a teammate you just didn’t get kicked 5ft into the air three seconds later, even at this level of the game. He didn’t know if he’d been tackled or run over. The referee looked stunned, our opponents looked like they were dead set on retribution and our team looked at each other and shrugged, thinking, ‘well, that’s Steve’. The referee could hardly get his whistle to his mouth to signal a free kick quickly enough and, as he fumbled around for a (likely red) card, Steve approached him and uttered the immortal words, “Ref, don’t book me. It wasn’t malicious, it’s just that I really am shit!” The ref didn’t even book him because he was too busy laughing!

Still, what we lacked in ability we made up for in enthusiasm. Whenever someone couldn’t play there was always a volunteer to take their place, such as when our goalkeeper Popeye couldn’t play and we called on Fred to go in goal instead. Popeye, our captain and chief bacon-butty provider, was once on the books of an actual proper football team and was an exceptional goalie. A sign of how good he was (and how poor the team were) came at the end of the season when he was unanimously voted the League Goalie Of The Year. That in spite of having an average goals against of over 10. Fred, comfortably filling a XXXXL size jersey, wasn’t quite in the same class as a goalkeeper yet would always turn up when we needed him, notably on this occasion when he received the call 10 minutes before kick-off. When he answered the phone he was half way through a roast chicken dinner. He got a lift to the pitch and, as he trotted onto the pitch informing both teams of his pre-match meal, he pulled his hamstring. He was immobile, in agony and probably suffering chronic indigestion for the duration of the match, which we lost by around 15 goals.


After the games we went to Scruffy Murphy’s and drank until the night came. Lee and myself would regularly visit an All-You-Can-Eat Indian Buffet halfway through the day. This was a team that took it’s Latin motto seriously: Vincere Ac Vinci Semper Ebrietatem (‘Win Or Lose, Always Booze’). OK, so the original idea we had when starting the 5-a-side was to get a bit healthier, which wasnt happening, but we didn’t really care. Nobody in the league had a better craic than us and it was something most teams envied, which is perhaps what prompted the reaction as we took our seats to witness Chester being thrashed 5 – 0 at Villa Park.


As we headed home after the game we tuned in to a local phone-in to see what the natives made of Chester’s efforts. One angry lady had the temerity to criticise the team, labelling them as ‘the blind school’ as she made clear her dissatisfaction with then Villa manager John Gregory. I wasn’t about to stand for that so called in. I gave my name as ‘Rubber Duck’, something of a nom-de-plume of mine at the time and was put on the air. I made an impassioned response to ‘that drippy woman’ that had previously been on, telling the host that proper football fans would appreciate the efforts of the Chester players and fans in actually fulfilling the fixture. Serious financial difficulties were being experienced by Chester City and insulting the club just to highlight the shortcomings of the Villa manager lacked class. The host apologised on her behalf, said nice things about Chester and then moved on to the next caller.

Fast forward to the day of the next Global Travel FC fixture, an away cup fixture against a team three divisions higher than us at Hoole Playing Fields. I disgraced myself by going to a party the previous night and drinking copious amounts of Cornish scrumpy. I reckon it was the cider that gave me the idea to stay up until dawn and go straight to the match. I was in no fit state to compute information properly, let alone play. Removing my shades was not an option! Which is why I was a bit confused when the opposition players started shaking my hand and slapping me on the back when I arrived. Had they been at the party? What had I done?


It turns out that those responsible for Chester City’s fanzine, The Onion Bag, had tuned in to the same local Birmingham radio station as we had after that week’s cup game. Word had spread to them that the mysterious Rubber Duck was, in fact, me and they were congratulating me and thanking me for sticking up for Chester City. They handed me the latest issue of The Onion Bag and I thanked them very much, not wanting to reveal that when it comes to football (I’m more of a rugby league fan) I actually root for Wrexham. I then stood around on the sidelines trying my best not to vomit until the inevitable happened – I was brought on as a substitute with us already trailing 5 – 0.

Within moments of me coming on their goalkeeper made a quick clearance from the edge of his box following a corner kick. He scuffed his clearance and it was heading my way. I was just inside the opposition half and knew that the keeper was off his line. If I could get to the ball and kick it straight back then it stood a chance of going in. And with that in my mind I set off on the 10ft dash to meet the ball on the half-volley. I was pleasantly surprised that I made it in time to do just that and to my astonishment (I may have had my eyes closed, I can’t actually remember) my foot connected perfectly with the ball. From a distance of around 40 yards the ball rose steadily, never getting more than about 6ft in the air. I swear I heard a sonic boom as the ball travelled through the air at such a speed. The goalie had been completely caught out and the ball hit the back of the net as I raised my arms aloft and ran around, not having a clue what to do. I hadn’t had a goal like this to celebrate  before. I doubt many people ever have! The adrenaline had got rid of the hangover immediately, I covered most of the Parish of Hoole in celebration, hotly pursued by my entire team, who eventually caught me and mobbed me. Their players, that had treated me as a hero before the match, were left open-mouthed! Not only had I dominated a Birmingham radio station but I’d also turned up stinking of fermented apples, unable to see properly and scored the Goal Of The Millennium. I could feel like I was some kind of deity to them!


Apart from one of their players, who was on the receiving end of one of the greatest put-downs I’ve ever heard. Their centre-forward evidently didn’t like being upstaged and must have got annoyed as our entire team celebrated my goal with me. “I don’t know what you’re so happy about,” he told Mike Dodd, our centre half, “because you are without doubt the worst team I’ve ever seen”.
“Well you lot can’t be that handy,” replied Mike, “‘we’re normally 9 down by now!”