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Bowler's Over: And then it happened

10 April 2015

Coronation Day

AS it turned out, it was all leading up to that one moment at Wembley Stadium, the proper one with the towers and everything. 

Two minutes into extra-time, the sun finally breaking through the cloud. A loose Everton clearance, Doug Fraser scampering to collect it first on the halfway line, the Scot slotting in alongside John Talbut in central defence after John Kaye succumbed to injury at the end of 90 minutes, to be replaced by Dennis Clarke. 

Fraser prods the ball eight or nine yards forwards where Jeff Astle, already on the half turn is waiting for it. He advances three or four paces, nips the ball away from a lunging tackle and the pitch suddenly opens up. Eight or nine more stuttering steps, carrying the ball with him, and there he is, approaching the penalty area. 

Maybe 23, 24 yards to go, inside-left, he pulls back his right foot and unleashes a stinging shot at goal. The ball squirts off an opponent, away across the face of goal, thudding into his own man, Graham Lovett.

As it bounces off him, destiny grabs hold of it and tosses it back into the path of the number nine who has continued his run, after colliding with a defender and being all but knocked off balance. 

Destiny, however, hasn’t been paying much attention and chucks it to the wrong foot. Never mind, it doesn’t matter, not on this day. From a yard inside the box, Astle’s left foot swings through like a sledgehammer and makes the perfect connection.

The football sears through the air, leaving Gordon West, the Everton goalkeeper, simply standing there, like a fella waiting for a bus. 

Only his bus had been cancelled and we’d got an open top one ready. 


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