RAWK Advent Calendar #11 Michael Owen (2nd) v Arsenal FA Cup 2001

Posted by Hinesy on December 7, 2014, 09:47:39 PM

I've sat here at my keyboard and written and scrubbed and written and deleted and written and binned so many times now. My 'favourite' goal? They're all my favourite. The most innocuous of deflections in, the biggest of moments. I've seen Riise blast the net, I've seen Tommy Smith head where he shouldn't have been, I've seen Fowler chip, Pongolle volley and Souness obliterate and they all are my favourites.
One of the lovely things about this series is the fact that most goals are not trophy winning moments of glory, rather, personal memories of days past when for one fleeting moment, all was well.

Well, mine after much much deliberation, is almost as old ago as the whisky I'm drinking. Because after much deliberation, when I sit back and think about all the goals I've seen, what gives me still a shiver, a smile, a lift, even to this day is Owen's 2nd v Arsenal in the FA Cup. Its not because with that we won the cup, its because by all rights we should have never won it in the first place and that sheer drive, momentum that we had that season, kind of said "Hello, we're back".

As you know, I'm not so interested in facts as much as feelings, but watching back the replay of the game, Arsenal had about 576 shots on goal, with 532 of them cleared off the line by a)Sami's foot, b) Sami's head, c) Henchoz's hands.

And they swarmed over us. A team that had Fowler on the bench, Gary Mac in attack midfield and Paddy Berger in a mustard yellow and black shirt that reminds me of Sander Westerveld for some reason.

No matter. I love this goal purely because it was the sheer, utter, clean and wonderful expression of joy that is footy played in your head as a kid. You nick the ball off the overwhelmingly more likely opponents and weave your way down the pitch in a matter of seconds, and I mean seconds, and boot it past the goalie, letting your momentum take you to the adoring fans going berserk.

You ask anyone and most fans will say the joy of a 92nd minute last gasp winner is far higher than winning 8-0. Well we were down and out, Ljungberg was playing, Henry was playing, our central defence were playing (netball) and we, in the Cardiff sun, were playing against a team who pinged the ball around for a laugh.

But to the goal, as I said, its not that we won the cup with it, its that I remember watching the match and being, as usual, horrifically nervous. There is a mathematical theory that states, the higher the stakes, the bigger the churn and I was churning like a milkmaid on incentive bonus on butter week.

Owen's first goal involved Marcus Babbel, and was a rush and kick in the penalty area, but boy whilst we still liked Michael, could he play. He booted it in the net like Fowler in his pomp. Fair do's, one all. But again and again came Arsenal, scurrying majestically down the pitch towards us.

Then this happened:
At 87'42, Arsenal have a free kick. Just inside our half, booting the ball toward our penalty area. Ten seconds later, and it is ten mere seconds later, the ball is in the Arsenal net.

Kanu fucks up his 'tentative' kick at the ball. Paddy Berger takes the ball and passes it upfield. Way up field. Where two of England's finest defenders, Lee Dixon and Tony Adams, old school defenders who thrive on killing small strikers, are placed.

And quite simply on that hot afternoon, in Wales, Michael Owen runs between them, out paces the pair and puts it in the net. Past Seaman and into history. Out. of. nowhere.

My god. I went bananas. It happened so fast that you rose from your seat as Owen headed to the ball and by the time your hopes and heart had soared in the hope of something happening, it had happened. He'd scored and the ground went nuts. I get goosebumps watching it now. With his left foot. In the only place he could score.
For someone who went to a lot of games at the time, listen to the names jumping around Owen, celebrating with him:
Babbel,, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Berger who'd come on as a sub, Fowler, a 12 yr old Gerrard, Emile bless him, you name it. Those players. And there is a lovely cutaway to Gerard Houllier who looks just happy and sunny and well. With Danny Murphy and Smicer behind him.

It makes me happy. It makes me smile. It lifts me. That moment. No great build up. No great tactical organisation. A real kids boot it, chase it, place it goal. Just wonderful.

In that moment, never mind Owen's buggering off to lesser teams like Real Madrid, never mind what was to come or had been; in that moment we all shared in a common moment of delight. Of happiness and shoutingoutfuckyouArsenewithyourgentlemanlyfootballwefuckingloveCardiffMichaelOwenwonthecuphappydaysladsfuckthesouth gut feeling. All is well.

I love that goal.

Obligatory you tube:

View Comments | Post Comment