To fill the days until football returns from the international break, Albion News editor Dave Bowler has been charged with selecting a top ten of Albion goals.
Picking a top ten of Albion goals over a lifetime of watching isn’t easy. For starters, at this advanced age, I’ve forgotten most of them. And do you pick great goals, funny goals, important goals? It’s a good question and I’ll only know the answer by next week when I’ve finished with it, but all I can say is it’s going to be a very personal collection and you’ll almost certainly disagree with it. Argue away…
Games against Manchester United often offer up something a bit special, but the festive fixtures against the Red Devils seem to provide even more than normal. Great goals are always on the agenda given that both teams embrace the best attacking traditions of the game.
The 5-3 game at Old Trafford in 1978 will always be top of the tree when it comes to looking back on games of Christmas past but there have both other moments to savour, not least the New Year’s Day meeting in 2011 when James Morrison smashed in what many – not least the man himself – believed to be the Albion’s goal of the season, though in the end he was beaten to that title by a couple of votes by Simon Cox’s effort at Spurs. James still reckons that Cox’s family spent days voting from multiple email addresses…
No matter. It was still a goal from the absolute top drawer, one that His Holiness Tony Brown admitted he would have been thrilled to score, and if there’s a compliment higher than that around these parts, I’m not sure what it is.
United had grabbed an early lead in the game through Wayne Rooney and the Throstles were struggling to settle until the left foot of Chris Brunt turned the game in Albion’s favour.
Collecting the ball just inside his own half, Brunt spotted the menacing run of Peter Odemwingie towards the United goal. Spearing a raking pass into Odemwingie’s path, defence was instantly turned into attack.
The pace of the Nigerian and the accuracy of the pass had Nemanja Vidic desperately back pedalling, but still able to climb high enough to get a header away from goal.
But not far enough as it turned out.
James Morrison read the situation perfectly. Realising that Vidic was going to win the ball, he stopped his dash into the area, his marker Patrice Evra carrying on his run, giving Morrison those vital few feet of space.
Watching the ball off Vidic’s head as it bounced into the turf, Morrison set himself and as the ball bounced up, simply creamed it off the outside of his right boot, the ball describing the most perfect of parabolas, neatly bisecting Evra and Vidic, curving viciously around the full stretch dive of Tomas Kuszczak and just inside the post.
Little wonder that Morrison wheeled away in delight, to be surrounded by delighted team mates ready to wish him a happy new year.
It was the kind of goal, the kind of strike that persuades people to turn up in our football stadia, paying fortunes to get cold, often wet, generally disappointed, just because every now and then, a footballer like Morrison will produce a moment of supreme artistry that even Spielberg couldn’t reproduce with a battery of CGI gear.
Stick yer blockbuster 3D movies over Christmas. If you want a slice of real life and some proper excitement, a football game is the place to be, preferably one that involves another James Morrison goal.
(The same applies to Easter or any other week just as well…)