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Were you one of the 13,262? The best goal you never saw

A trip to Huddersfield always reminds David Marples of a legendary goal. Here's a chance to revisit a piece he wrote last year.

Laurence Griffiths

Huddersfield Town.  McAlpine Stadium. Galpharm Stadium.  John Smiths Stadium.

Unfortunately, these incarnations of the home of Huddersfield Town are not the home to a legendary goal that has entered into Nottingham Forest folklore, myth and legend.

The venue: Leeds Road. October 3rd 1989. League Cup.  Step forward Mr Tommy Gaynor.

This young man joined Forest from Doncaster Rovers in 1988 after hitting seven goals in 33 appearances. I say ‘young man’ as he was, in many ways, a classic 80s Clough player in the sense of him being a skillful player with an eye for goal but with some limitations: step forward Garry Parker, Colin Walsh and Gary Crosby. That is not meant to be derogatory as Parker was one of my favourite players as a kid. However, Walsh, Parker and Gaynor were similar in the sense that they weren’t the most mobile of players - tall and rangy. However, they compensated for this in numerous ways: Parker and Walsh with a cultured left foot and a knack of scoring vital goals, Crosby with his ability to glide with the ball past defenders and a winning smile, and Gaynor with outrageous skill.

A rather stuttering start to the season brought us to Leeds Road, the home of Huddersfield Town, themselves enjoying a rather unspectacular start in the Third Division but featuring a squad containing some interesting names such as Aidy Boothroyd, Chris Hutchings and Peter Withe.

Stories are numerous but facts are few. We know that the score ended up 3-3 with Forest progressing thanks to the away goals rule after a 1-1 draw at the City Ground. We know that Gary Crosby and Nigel Clough also scored for Forest. We know that Craig Maskell netted twice for the Terriers and Mike Cecere bagged the other. We also know that Tommy Gaynor scored a cracker of a goal.

Accounts vary: "Ooh Tommy Gaynor was a great player. I remember him scoring a superb goal in the League Cup away at Huddersfield, dribbling from his own penalty area, beating several players before crashing a 20 yard shot in the Terrier’s net." (Posted by Norwayred, May 17, 2009)

But footage is scarce. If there once was footage on YouTube, it is there no longer.  I can only imagine in my mind’s eye, reconstructing it into a slalomesque run as defenders slide hither and thither but Gaynor’s tricky shoulder drops and Cruyff turns ensure he evades the desperate lunges.

I don’t know though. I wasn’t there.

Of course, there are countless other goals that I didn’t see. But it’s the ones that you missed out on even though you were at the match that really nag at you and eat you up from inside out.

At Easter 2012,  I traveled all the way to Burnley on a cold day to see Forest turn in an insipid performance. We went one down in the first half. It was cold. We didn’t look like getting anything out of the game. The 90th minute came. I was cold. I had a long drive home to South Lincolnshire. I was very cold. The 92nd minute rolled around so I got my proverbial coat and trundled miserably to my car. Did I mention I was cold? The radio informed me that we had earned a draw thanks to a 94th minute penalty converted by Lewis McGugan. Great. All that way and the one bright spot of the game in our favour, I had missed. Awesome. Yeah, I know; serves me right for leaving early.

Going back into the mists of time, I have a slightly bigger confession to make.

The first day of 1992. Home to Luton Town. (Some of you older and anoraked fans are probably way ahead of me and have already got to the punch line). Not an especially special game; a 1-1 draw in a season in which we finished 8th. However, in many ways, this was a never to be forgotten game for which special t-shirts have been made.

A young Mark Pembridge had put the Hatters in the lead. The game was petering out into a disappointing start to a new year as I entered my 16th one on this earth. From the front of the Trent End (left of the goal about eight steps back just behind the kids section: I was a bit older now and stood just outside that section now I was a proper grown up), mum and dad probably beckoned me to make a move in order to get over Trent Bridge ahead of the traffic and get back on the M1 up to Rotherham. In my absence, for some reason, Des Walker decided to wander upfield and found himself one on one after being slipped through by Nigel Clough. Not only was the angle acute but also he was facing Steve Sutton, on loan from Forest. No matter. Without hesitation, Walker rammed the ball into the top corner for his only goal in Forest colours in 409 appearances over two stints.

Thanks, Des.

This is all rather cathartic and it helps to face up to such demanding situations. I feel sad though that the very place where Tommy Gaynor scored this legendary goal in an otherwise forgettable game is no longer: it is now the site of a retail park a few hundred yards away from the current Huddersfield Stadium. A plaque marking the centre circle was there but disappeared in June 2103; sadly not the first time as it had gone missing in 2000 too. I hope it has been returned. It is the only tangible evidence that a game was played there that lives on in legend and stories.