This is me powering the ball past Peter Bonetti in the England goal.
This was the second of two consecutive corners.
From the first one, I had again met the corner ahead of anyone else. My header, though firm and on target, was saved by Bonetti. I can’t quite remember how close it was to beating him, but he wasn’t able to catch it or punch it clear and had only managed to push it over the bar.
At that moment, I remember John Hollins came up to me and said something like. “Nice one, son! Listen, if you get another chance, head it downward.” I remember nodding dutifully, unable to believe I had come so close to scoring, and probably determined to try again if I possibly could.
The second corner was again taken by Graham Rix, but this time instead of swinging it straight in, he passed it short to someone, then got it straight back, and crossed it in. In getting the ball back he was judged to be offside, and so as the ball came in, and I met the ball, the whistle sounded.
It wasn’t going to count. Still, I did get the satisfaction of seeing the ball fly past Bonetti and nestle into the back of the net.
I can’t actually remember the final score in our match – but I have a feeling we lost. Maybe it was 2-0, or 3-1. I remember one great save that Pat Jennings made from Emlyn Hughes from very close range. Hughes was flabbergasted and with that great cheery grin of his, called Jennings a **** for saving the ball, except it wasn’t a grin this time, it was a face totally distraught and frustrated. It just shows that the game was being taken seriously all round.
Bobby Charlton and the old England players were all very organised and knew how to make the ball do the work. At one point I was haring around trying to get the ball, and I just couldn’t get near it, or them. Charlton even worked the ball onto his right foot and let rip with one long-range shot which rolled back the years, and it could have easily flew in – just like one of his classic goals, like the one against Mexico in the 1966 World Cup.
I do remember that I played pretty well – certainly better than either of my fellow midfielders that day, Rix and Best. Mind you I was pretty keen, and they didn’t really have too much to prove to anyone!
I got this photograph of me almost scoring from the offices of one of the tabloids, I think it was the Sunday People, at the south side of Blackfriars Bridge, right by the Thames. At some point, not too long after I had seen what had appeared in the newspapers, I got in touch with both the News of the World and the Sunday People, and I think I was directed to the one office where the photos where stored.
Whoever agreed to let me in, took me through to where they had a row of shelves and box files and then however they had organised what was stored where, they had a bunch of photos all printed off and ready, I think, for the section editors to choose which would be used in the newspaper. There were some others that had, for example, black marker pen marks on them indicating where the photo should be cropped for use. This one was untouched by pen-marks and the best one of a selection of two or three similar frames. I am pretty sure there was one which showed the ball right in the corner of the net. Would love to have that one too…now but at the time, at £4 each to buy a copy, I decided not to bother. I can’t remember but assume I wasn’t in shot for that picture, and was just delighted to have this one. Who wouldn’t be!
Also featured in this picture are, from left to right, Bobby Moore, George Cohen (I think?), Murdo McLeod and Alan Mullery.
Murdo McLeod was – as I may have noted elsewhere – George Best’s agent, and in the team because he had apparently told the match organisers that if they wanted George, then they would have to take him too. I think they had both met whilst at Hibernian and become (I assume) close pals. I did once skim read a George Best autobiography which briefly mentions this match and Murdo McLeod, and I believe their relationship didn’t end in a good way, with one online reference I saw noting that Best lost his flat to McLeod at some future point.