my own goal

The Wigan and Great Britain winger looks back to the national tour of New Zealand in 1990 for the moment when he made an inexplicable slip that left him looking extremely silly, and his team on their way to defeat in the final Test of the series.
Click to follow
The Independent Online
EVERYTHING had been going quite well for me until the Third Test. Because of injury I had missed the start of the tour, when the team visited Papua New Guinea, where they played a couple of Tests, winning one and losing one. I made it to New Zeal and forthe Test series there, however.

This was the team led by Garry Schofield, with people such as Phil Clarke, Mike Gregory, Joe Lydon and Kelvin Skerrett in it. It was also Jonathan Davies's first tour with Great Britain.

The First Test was in Palmerston North. It was all very tight, but we won it in the end 11-10. Davies and Carl Gibson got the tries.

The Second Test was a similar story. That was in Auckland and we won 16-14. Schofield and Denis Betts each scored a try, and then I touched down to decide the match only a few minutes from the end. So that was very satisfying. But the New Zealanders weregood, with people like captain Hugh McGahan, Matthew Ridge at full-back and Gary Freeman at scrum-half.

In one way there wasn't very much to play for when the Third Test, in Christchurch as I remember it, came along. But this was in the days when the World Cup was decided on points, and it was always the Third Test in a series that counted towards it. So it was still very important that we won the match.

The game had not been going very long when I had my big chance. The score was still 0-0, and Bobby Goulding, the Great Britain scrum- half, made a break from about halfway. He got through the New Zealand cover and I suppose I was about 30 yards out when he passed to me.

It looked like the easiest try in the world. All I had to do was to run to the line. There was absolutely nobody anywhere near me. They had all given up the chase. That's what struck me when I looked at the television replays afterwards. I was the only player in the picture.

In spite of that, I somehow managed to drop the ball over the line. Some players always dive over the line, whether there is an opponent near them or not. Or some do what I did and put the ball down on the run. But as I went to do so, it just slipped outof my hand. It wasn't wet, there was no reason for it at all. It just happened.

The next five minutes I was absolutely nowhere. I can remember the rage I felt. A couple of the players tried to say: "Come on, forget about it." The crowd, of course, thought it was quite funny. Looking back, I suppose I was lucky we weren't playing in Britain. Then it would all have got a lot more exposure in the media. As it was, I began to think I might be remembered like Don Fox, the Wakefield player who missed the conversion that would have won the Challenge Cup final against Leeds in 1968. I don'

t think he's ever been able to live that down.

Not long after my miss, the New Zealanders went into the lead and we never really got near them. I did score a try, though, which was ironic. Quite a nice one too, in the corner, after Andy Gregory had got away on the blindside. But my expression afterwards wasn't what it would have been.

Some players still remind me of what happened - Garry Schofield, for example. But what can you say? I had seen the ball knocked out of people's hands before, but never anything like this. It had never happened to me before, and it has never happened to me since. And I hope it never happens to me again.

Comments