A selection of players who enjoyed a fleeting moment of fame
The title of an autobiography has rarely been more appropriate. Jimmy Glass’s book was called One-Hit Wonder. But what a hit it was, and how wondrous. With a swing of his right boot, the goal-scoring goalkeeper saved Carlisle United’s Football League status and catapulted himself into Cumbrian folklore.
The situation was bleak. In the final minute of added time, in the last game of the 1998-99 season, Carlisle were drawing 1-1 with Plymouth Argyle. Their 71-year stay in the Football League was at an end. “Everyone in the ground thought Carlisle were going to be relegated, myself included,” said Glass.
Then Carlisle won a corner. They had hope, however slender. With nothing to lose, the manager Nigel Pearson waved Glass forward. And when Scott Dobie met Graham Anthony’s corner with a header and Plymouth keeper James Dungey blocked, there was Glass, 100 yards from his own goal, to score the rebound. “It fell to me, wallop, goal, thank you very much,” he recalled.
He barely had time to celebrate before he was buried beneath a mass of bodies. Jubilant Carlisle fans staged a pitch invasion, jumping on their new hero.
Few knew much about him. Glass was not even a Carlisle player. He had been borrowed from Swindon Town for the final three games of the season and, when no deal could be agreed, he went back there. He slipped from favour at the County Ground and fell out with the manager Jimmy Quinn. He played twice for Brentford and twice for Oxford United. Sixteen months after keeping Carlisle in the league, Glass played his final game.
He was never to return. He played non-league football, became an IT salesman and then a taxi driver, a normal life that was interrupted by reminders of an abnormal deed. In 2009, a Dubai radio station had a Jimmy Glass Day. Perhaps a brief career was damaged by his heroics. “Whereas I just wanted to be a goalkeeper, an anonymous goalkeeper that razzle-dazzled ‘em with my skills, everywhere I went I carried the tag of Jimmy Glass, you know, ‘That’s the one that scored the goal’,” he told the Independent.
Perhaps it hampered his chances of finding another club after left Swindon. Indeed, while he understudied Nigel Martyn at Crystal Palace and played behind an on-loan Rio Ferdinand for Bournemouth, he only had three seasons of regular first-team football in his career. If he was known for anything, it was for the 1998 Football League Trophy final when, playing for Bournemouth, he scored an own goal at Wembley. Then, incredibly, he achieved fleeting fame for putting the ball in the right net.
Some sportsmen have their 15 minutes of fame. Roy Dwight had 23 minutes in the sun before his career was plunged into the dark.
Briefly thrust into the spotlight, he was later eclipsed by a relative who never played professional football but nonetheless became a character in the sporting soap opera. When the 1959 FA Cup final began, Dwight was a promising winger for Nottingham Forest. It was a meeting of two underdogs at Wembley, Forest and Luton Town having both finished in the lower half of Division 1. Neither had won the FA Cup before, so there was a chance for someone to put his stamp on his club’s history.
Dwight took his opportunity. After 10 minutes, Stewart Imlach – father of television presenter Gary – crossed and Dwight put Forest ahead. Four minutes later, Tommy Wilson added a second. Then disaster struck. Dwight broke his leg in a challenge with Luton’s Brendan McNally. It ended his game. His career never recovered.
He was out for 10 months and, although he played on for Gravesend & Northfleet, Coventry and Millwall, he never scaled such heights again. But though the 1950s was a decade of injuries in FA Cup finals – the Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann had broken his neck in 1956 and his Manchester United counterpart Ray Wood fractured a cheekbone the following year – and a time before substitutions, Dwight’s Forest held on.
Ten men were in effect reduced to nine for the final few minutes as Bill Whare struggled with cramp, but the depleted side did something Brian Clough never could in his golden reign and made Forest FA Cup winners.
It was a one-off for them and for Dwight, but his family were not finished in football. Roy’s cousin Reg lacked his sporting talent but went on to become the owner and chairman of a club, in Watford, who provided one of the surprise success stories of the 1980s. But the younger Dwight was better known by the stage name he adopted in his musical career: Elton John.
The nickname denoted a certain time in technology. Perhaps today he would have been ‘the Twitter scorer’ or ‘the Instagram attacker’. In the days before social media, Roy Essandoh was ‘the Teletext striker’, the man who went down in football folklore for being signed because of an article that appeared in blockish type on television screens and who scored an injury-time winner for the lower-league underdogs in an FA Cup quarter-final.
Essandoh’s rapid rise was remarkable. Too remarkable, Essandoh subsequently said, admitting that the legend had overtaken the facts. “The version everyone knows makes for a better story,” the forward told Footy Matters wryly in 2011.
But however it is told, his tale is unique – certainly in the modern game, perhaps ever.
While Wycombe Wanderers, a mid-table third-flight club, embarked on an FA Cup run in 2001, their forwards acquired injury after injury. High-profile attempts to get Ian Wright or Gianluca Vialli out of retirement failed and an article on the club’s website referred to manager Lawrie Sanchez’s search for a striker. On Teletext, that was interpreted as an appeal for attackers to present themselves.
Actually, Essandoh said, he had already been signed until the end of the season after his agent had alerted Sanchez to his availability. “It seemed people put two and two together and made five,” Essandoh added.
However he reached Wycombe, he was an unlikely candidate for stardom: born in Belfast and brought up in Ghana, he had played in Scotland and Finland. He had appeared twice for Wanderers when they visited high-flying Leicester City in the FA Cup.
With a quarter of an hour remaining, Sanchez sent for Essandoh. Then the manager himself departed, sent from the dugout to watch the drama unfold on a Filbert Street monitor, a drenched figure in a raincoat seeing a surreal ending. In the 92nd minute, Jamie Bates headed the ball across the box and, rising above the defence, Essandoh nodded in. Then, in a pointless piece of pedantry by referee Steve Bennett, the midfielder Steve Brown was sent off for his celebrations. Despite that, Wycombe held on.
But lightning did not strike twice. Essandoh got 34 minutes as a semi-final substitute against Liverpool, without making the same impact. Indeed, he never scored again for Wycombe. He never scored in the Football League either, instead taking a tour of the semi-professional game with Barnet, Cambridge City, Bishop’s Stortford, Billericay, Grays Athletic, Gravesend & Northfleet, Kettering, St Neots, Braintree and Bury Town. Wycombe proved the seventh of eighteen clubs he represented in a peripatetic career. But even if Essandoh was not found on Teletext, he went on to make headlines, in newspapers, on radio and even, when it still existed, on Ceefax.
Steve Morrow looked like his manager George Graham, played like Arsenal’s many other defensive midfielders of the early 1990s and became the answer to a pub quiz question.
His moment of glory led to a piece of trivia:he is the only Cup winner to collect his medal before a final, the result of a celebration gone horribly wrong.
The 1993 League Cup final against Sheffield Wednesday was level at 1-1 when Paul Merson, with a little inadvertent assistance from Carlton Palmer, set up Morrow for the winner. It was his first Arsenal goal – there were only two more in the rest of his Gunners career – and after the final whistle went, he ran to Tony Adams. The Arsenal captain attempted to lift up the goalscorer. Instead, Morrow tumbled over his shoulder, landing awkwardly and breaking his arm. Rather than climbing Wembley’s 39 steps, he was taken to hospital.
“The whole thing has devalued the day for us,” Graham said after the game. “Steve had an excellent game, nullifying John Sheridan, and what has happened to him spoiled everything for me, and all the players.”
So Morrow’s journey to the Royal Box was postponed. But 1993 was a year of two finals between Arsenal and Wednesday and while the injured Northern Irishman missed the FA Cup meeting, he was at least able to pick up his League Cup medal before kick-off.
Arsenal won in a replay to complete a Cup double but while Morrow recovered physically, his career did not. He broke through at a particular point in Arsenal’s history: the title-winning sides of 1989 and 1991 were famously sound defensively but possessed attacking options.
The latter-period Graham teams became disproportionately reliant on Ian Wright for goals – he delivered thirty in 1992-93, while Kevin Campbell, with nine, was Arsenal’s second highest scorer – and featured fewer flair players, with Anders Limpar figuring less in the starting XI. Instead the midfield was staffed by seemingly interchangeable defensive-minded players: Ian Selley, David Hillier and Morrow, who could also operate as a right-back or central defender.
Indeed, Morrow lined up alongside Selley in the centre of the pitch in the 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup final victory over Parma, but it was one of just 13 appearances that season. After Graham was succeeded by Bruce Rioch and then Arsène Wenger, he dropped out of the reckoning altogether. Morrow left Arsenal in the summer Emmanuel Petit arrived, completing a partnership with Patrick Vieira and a midfield upgrade.
The Northern Irishman eventually joined QPR but, after being loaned to Peterborough, was released on a free transfer. Unable to find a club in England, the former minor character in the Arsenal drama joined Dallas Burn. He later managed the Major League Soccer club before becoming Arsenal’s international partnerships performance supervisor.
Wembley winner was a rather simpler title in a day when Arsenal’s team was packed with graduates of their youth system, like Morrow, and an international partnership involved passing to the Swedish winger Limpar. Morrow was one of the Brits swept aside by Arsenal’s foreign invasion but only after he had a unique role in two Cup finals in the same season.
Perhaps it was just as well that Roger Osborne only scored one FA Cup-winning goal given what a shock to the system it was for the Ipswich Town midfielder.
Because it is not merely his 1978 strike – a left-footed shot after the Arsenal defender Willie Young failed to clear David Geddis’s cross – that is memorable. It was the celebration. An overcome Osborne fainted. Smelling salts were required to bring him around and the manager Bobby Robson promptly substituted him.
Twelve minutes later, the referee Derek Nippard blew the final whistle and Ipswich, for the only time in their history, were FA Cup winners. In many ways Osborne was a fitting hero for both the club – born in the Suffolk village of Otley, he was a local – and the times. The 1970s was a decade where some of the least likely lads proved to be the match-winners.
And there was nothing obvious about Osborne deciding the destination of the trophy. Missed by Ipswich’s scouts as a boy, he did not make his debut for them until he was 23, having been signed from Grundisburgh. After a slow start, he went on to establish himself in Robson’s midfield as Ipswich twice finished third in Division 1. But the 1978 campaign progressed rather less smoothly and he was dropped for Colin Viljoen the week before the FA Cup final. Ipswich’s 6-1 defeat to Aston Villa, with Viljoen in the side and without Osborne, prompted a rethink by Robson.
Yet Osborne’s finest moment was the beginning of the end for him. After winning his first major trophy, Robson grew more ambitious. His horizons broadened and his style of play became more expansive as he signed the Dutch duo of Arnold Mühren and Frans Thijssen to add flair to his midfield. Osborne was one of those to make way and by the time Ipswich won the Uefa Cup in 1981, their Wembley winner had faded from the reckoning.
He went on loan to Detroit Express, but his career wound down in East Anglia, at Colchester United, Sudbury, Braintree and Felixstowe. It is not a fate that is likely to await more recent FA Cup final heroes. Nor is driving a lorry or managing a sports centre, two of the jobs Osborne has done after his retirement from football. Still, such a taste of everyday life should not have been exciting enough to make him faint again.
Depending upon your perspective, being the reserve goalkeeper is either the easiest or the hardest job in football. When the first choice is a player of the quality of Ray Clemence, who played more than 1,000 games in his career, being his understudy seemed a guarantee of a watching brief. But his deputy emerged from the shadows and was propelled into the limelight the last time Tottenham won a European trophy. An unknown 21 year old from Hackney was the hero.
Clemence had suffered a rare injury in 1984, a finger problem that meant Parks got his chance. After excelling against Hajduk Split in the Uefa Cup semi-final, the manager Keith Burkinshaw kept faith with Parks in the final. For once, a fit-again Clemence was on the bench. So was a semi-fit Ossie Ardiles. The injured Glenn Hoddle was absent altogether. Stripped of their stars, Spurs had a more workman-like look. They were underdogs.
And after the first leg against Anderlecht was drawn 1-1, Graham Roberts’s second-leg equaliser took the tie to penalty kicks. It was time for Parks. “He was always a great penalty saver, even in training,” Roberts recalled. Parks flung himself to his left to save the first, taken by the future Denmark manager Morten Olsen. He dived the same way for each of Anderlecht’s next three penalties. All went in.
Then, after Danny Thomas had missed the chance to win it for Spurs, Parks made the decisive save in the shootout. The Belgians’ fifth spot-kick was taken by Arnór Guðjohnsen, father of the future Chelsea and Barcelona forward Eiður. It was a well-struck penalty but Parks dived to his right to make a superb save before sprinting off in celebration.
“If the gates had been open 10 minutes before [the end] as they were in a league game, I’d have been at Seven Sisters in about 35 seconds,” Parks said later. “Luckily enough, I just remember Ray Clemence clothes-lining me as I ran past him.”
His reward was to be demoted to third-choice goalkeeper when Bobby Mimms joined as back-up to Clemence. Parks never did become the regular at White Hart Lane and became the definition of a journeyman, appearing for Oxford, Gillingham, Brentford, QPR, Fulham, West Ham, Stoke, Falkirk, Blackpool, Burnley, Doncaster, Barrow, Scarborough and Halifax, without staying anywhere for long before eventually returning to Tottenham as goalkeeping coach in 2008 and, more recently, moving on to Aston Villa.
“I reached my Everest at the age of 21,” he said many years later. But what a peak it was. And while Tottenham have had plenty of world-class talents since, the reality is that the last man to win them a European trophy was a second-string shot-stopper who would never have played if Clemence had stayed fit.
1966 was a great year for English attackers. Two months before Geoff Hurst’s unforgettable treble at Wembley, another forward struck twice beneath the Twin Towers to win a trophy. But while Hurst earned fame everlasting, Mike Trebilcock was quickly forgotten – or he was outside Merseyside, anyway. A brief Everton career featured a great high for a young man catapulted into the limelight.
Five months earlier, Trebilcock had been a Plymouth player. But he had appeared in Everton’s FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester United and when the manager Harry Catterick decided Fred Pickering was not fully for the final, he resisted the temptation to move Jimmy Gabriel further forward and instead picked the untried Trebilcock.
It did not seem Catterick’s finest decision. “You can imagine how I felt,” Trebilcock told Backpass in 2010. “The boss drops the England centre-forward, puts me in the team, we’re 2-0 down, and I’ve not had a kick for an hour. But in the blink of an eye, everything changed.” Trebilcock sprung to life with two goals in five minutes. Derek Temple completed the comeback to make Everton FA Cup winners for the first time since the days of Dixie Dean. “That was my greatest moment,” said Catterick, ranking his FA Cup win above his two league titles. It was Trebilcock’s, too. Conforming to cup cliché, he had a boyhood obsession with Roy of the Rovers. This was almost a script suitable for his fictional idol.
“It all went according to my dreams,” he added. “I always knew I’d play for a top club, then play in an FA Cup final, then score the winning goal. I didn’t get the winning goal, but I got the next best thing: I scored twice, then I helped another young player score the winner.”
Watched by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, two Liverpudlian day-trippers with a ticket to Wembley, Everton had ensured Merseyside was England’s football and musical capital. Liverpool had already won Division 1.
But Trebilcock’s stint at the top of the charts was brief. Pickering returned, a young Joe Royle emerged and Temple, Jimmy Husband and Alex Young remained key components of Catterick’s side. The Wembley hero spent more time on the sidelines. He only scored three league goals in an Everton career that spanned a mere 13 games before moving on to Portsmouth and then back to his native south-west at Torquay. The Cornishman, the youngest of 14 children, had begun at non-league Tavistock before joining Plymouth. There, he had to borrow £5 to get the train to Crewe so he could sign for Everton.
And, at an age when others are at the peak of his footballing powers, he made a rather longer journey. At just 29, he emigrated to Australia, where he still lives. He could scarcely be further away from the scene of his greatest day but in May 1966 Trebilcock and Wembley were, like Lennon and McCartney, in perfect harmony.
The winners of the Premier League Player of the Month award tend to be distinguished. There are World Cup and Champions League winners, record signings and prolific scorers and players who meet even the strictest test of greatness.
Then, every now and then, comes an anomaly, a player who stands out precisely because he is so different from the other exalted individuals on an illustrious list. Alex Manninger, Anton Ferdinand, Johan Elmander and Adam Le Fondre are such occasional oddities. But none, surely, is as unlikely as the man honoured for his exploits in April 1997.
Mickey Evans was a striker who only ever scored four Premier League goals. They all came within a 15-day period. They made a huge impact. Southampton were engaged in their annual struggle to stay up when Graeme Souness signed Evans from Plymouth. He failed to score in his first five games and was on the bench when they visited their relegation rivals Nottingham Forest on April 5.
With a quarter of an hour remaining, he came on for Matt Le Tissier. Two goals in three minutes, sandwiching a Stuart Pearce penalty, clinched a 3-1 win. The following week Southampton hosted West Ham, another team in danger of the drop. Evans opened the scoring in a 2-0 victory. Seven days later, they faced Coventry who, needless to say, were not safe themselves. Evans netted again, in a 2-2 draw. Southampton, who had propped up the table before the Forest game, clambered out of the bottom three.
They remained a Premier League club, but Evans did not remain a top-flight player. Souness left Saints that summer. His replacement, Dave Jones, preferred to use Kevin Davies, whose arrival from Chesterfield was set up by Souness, and his own buy David Hirst and sold the award-winner to West Brom. Evans only scored six Division 1 goals before returning to his native Plymouth, where he made his name and for whom, spread over two spells, 73 of his 88 league goals came, the vast majority in the bottom two divisions of the Football League. Evans was capped once by the Republic of Ireland, but he was a Devonian, down to a rustic look that made him a cult hero at Southampton. Certainly there was no sheen of class to his game.
Perhaps only a manager of such strong belief in his opinions and with such a disdain for conventional wisdom as Souness could have signed Evans. His recruitment throughout his career was eclectic, ranging from the inspired to the disastrous. During his sole season at Southampton, he signed Richard Dryden from Exeter who, like Evans, discovered Souness was the only manager to give him regular top-flight football, at times in a back three featuring the attacking midfielder Neil Maddison. The Scot introduced Egil Østenstad, an underrated goalscorer, and Eyal Berkovic, a magical talent. Together with Le Tissier, they had orchestrated the famous 6-3 defeat of Manchester United.
Each possessed far more ability than Evans but he added another ingredient to the attack. Bustling around with more enthusiasm than finesse, the target man’s rough-and-ready approach proved what Southampton needed. If he was an incongruous sight alongside Le Tissier and Berkovic, he was still more so in the list of the division’s men of the month. He was preceded by Juninho and succeeded by Dennis Bergkamp, two of the first great wave of inventive imports. In contrast, Evans represented a throwback to the days when clubs were likelier to gamble on unassuming workhorses from the lower leagues.
This article appeared on Episode Thirty Six of the Blizzard Podcast. You can see which other articles we have featured by searching the Podcast tag, but we'd really like you to subscribe which you can do through iTunes, Soundcloud, our RSS feed or wherever you usually get your podcasts of choice.