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Gary Mabutt own goal - The W1nners' Club


Have you ever made a mistake at work that was so big, it’s likely your colleagues will remember it for the rest of their lives?

If you have, you’re not the only one.

Former England and Tottenham Hotspur defender Gary Mabbutt was responsible for scoring an infamous own goal in the 1987 FA cup final that handed victory to their opponents.

Tottenham were the overwhelming favourites to defeat Coventry City, a club appearing in its first major final in their 104-year history.

Of the 13-man Spurs squad, only Mitchell Thomas had hitherto not gained an England cap and they possessed in Clive Allen, a striker who had enjoyed a stunning season scoring a whopping 48 goals.  On top of that, their squad contained a vast wealth of experience who were used to playing on the big stage. Spurs goalkeeper Ray Clemence for example, was appearing in his 42nd match at Wembley, whereas only four of Coventry’s team – namely: David Phillips, Nick Pickering, Dave Bennett and Cyrille Regis had ever played at the famous old stadium, and it was only Phillips that was an international player at the time.

The build up to the final was littered with references to the perceived differences between the two teams: “a pit pony v the Derby favourite”; “artisans v artists”; “rank outsiders v red-hot favourites”; “journeymen v pedigree”. The FA Cup being the FA Cup however – it meant the match would be played on the lush Wembley turf rather than on paper, as most pundits already had the Coventry City players down for a runner-up medal before the game had even begun.

Clive Allen scored his 49th goal of the season after 2 minutes, heading past keeper Steve Ogrizovic after a Chris Waddle cross from the right. Within seven minutes however, Coventry were level through Dave Bennett.

The London club were back in front just before the break when Mabbutt deflected the ball past the goalkeeper after a cross from the right. Midway through the second half Coventry brought the score level again as Bennett’s pinpoint cross from the right was met with a diving header from six yards out by Striker keith Houchen who was later awarded 1987’s Goal of the Season accolade.

The scores remained level until full-time and the game went into extra-time.

Six Minutes into the extra period, an unfortunate Mabbutt scored an own goal after Lloyd McGrath crossed the ball from the right and it took a cruel deflection off the Spurs defender’s left knee from six yards out, over keeper Ray Clemence and into the back of the net.

One of Coventry City’s fanzines to this day remains mischievously titled ‘Gary Mabbutt’s Knee,’ and the unlucky defender’s body part is almost as much of a celebrity in the Midlands as the FA Cup itself is.

Have look at the video clip below and think back to a colossal mistake you’ve made in the workplace, then be thankful that you probably won’t be remembered for it by all your colleagues and most of the rest of the nation in thirty years’ time.




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