Phillip Crossland looks back at a match where strong winds embarrass a goalkeeper, but luckily it’s not the late Ian McKecknie who has a red face…
Sometimes it is a relatively minor incident that makes a football match memorable. One which has lingered in my own memory actually had two related incidents.
We go back to the “golden era” of Waggy, Chilton, Houghton, Butler for this one, but none of them scored in the game in question. Ken Houghton wasn’t actually playing that day, presumably out injured, with Billy Wilkinson performing his familiar substitute role.
Memory is not to be completely relied on of course, and I consulted old notes and programmes before attempting to put this in writing. Thus I find it was 21st January, 1967, and Hull City were playing old rivals Millwall in Division Two (as it then was) at Boothferry Park. Given the date, it is probably not surprising that the weather played a part in proceedings. It wasn’t snow however, but a gale force wind which was the dominant feature.
I had been thinking that the recipient of the first stroke of luck was right-winger Ray Henderson, but I find it was actually midfielder Alan Jarvis. So it was he who put in a cross from the right wing. It was nearer the goalkeeper than our forwards though, and it looked like a comfortable catch for the ‘keeper. In the same instant that he rose to collect however, a sudden gust of wind diverted the ball sideways into the net, leaving him clutching at thin air!
The second goal in the 2-0 win was remarkably similar. Chris Simpkin, our No. 6, met a Millwall clearance down the middle by putting the ball straight back. I’m not sure if the intention was a spectacular long-range shot, or just a hopeful punt forward, but it turned out to be the former! The goalkeeper again jumped for a fairly routine catch, but once more the wind took a hand, suddenly diverting the ball beyond his outstretched hands and into the vacant net behind.
Simpkin didn’t score many goals and he was delighted! After accepting team-mates’ congratulations, he demonstrated to supporters by hand signals, just how it had swerved around the goalie! Whatever his misdemeanours in later life, as a player he was the Paul McShane-type, always fully committed, and therefore a crowd favourite.
I’m sure there was some sympathy for the Millwall goalkeeper (by name of Lawrie Leslie), and our own Ian McKechnie must have viewed events from the other end of the pitch with a little alarm. Thankfully, he seems not to have suffered such indignities.