This weekend saw the greatest game of football I have ever witnessed being played out right in front of my eyes at Burton’s Pirelli stadium. In a scene which would seem unbelievable even amongst the pages of a Roy of the Rovers comic strip, Cheltenham Town beat Burton Albion 6-5 after being 5-3 down as late as the 85th minute.
There’s nothing quite like the unthinkable happening in football, so, with that in mind, here we go…
Burton Albion 5 – 6 Cheltenham Town, 13th March, 2010
If at 5 o clock on saturday I had been struck down by a rogue bolt of lightning, passers by would gather round my charred remains and see a massive smile on my face – the game of football I had just seen, happened to be one of the best moments of my life.
It all began with a hasty walk to the Pirelli stadium after one too many pints in the watering holes of Burton. As I entered the stadium I just managed to get onto the terrace in time to see Shaun Harrad drill in the Brewer’s opener after 2 minutes, it seemed like it was going to be ‘one of those days’.
A disgusting dive from Harrad and a man who appeared to be the only man in Burton who owned a flag and therefore given the job of linesman conspired against us soon after and we were soon 2-0 down.
As the referee blew for half time I was starting to question why I bothered and convinced myself that this very blog post would be about diving and the steady increase of flag and whistle-bearing idiots – what a difference a half makes.
Whatever Cheltenham manager Mark Yates said at half time, it seemed to do the trick as Justin Richards and then Medy Elito scored within 2 minutes of each other to make it 2-2. Burton replied with two of their own as Townsend put the ball in his own net and on loan Steve Kabba scored making it 4-2. A glint of hope appeared as Michael Pook scored a free kick in the 84th minute making it 4-3 but less that a minute later Kabba put the result beyond doubt making it 5-3 with 5 minutes of normal time to play.
Then something strange happened.
The football god’s smiled and Pook’s shot from 20 yards took a wicked deflection looping over the open-mouthed keeper – 5-4. But surely that’s it right?
That wasn’t it.
In the 90th minute a long ball was flicked on by Julian Alsop (a man that bares more resemblance to a grizzly bear than a footballer) and Justin Richards passed it into the net under the onrushing keeper. Cue ecstatic scenes in the away end as we snatched a point from the unlikeliest position.
Then something even stranger happened.
In the 95th minute a corner was cleared to the edge of the box where Michael Pook rose, puffing out his chest to control the ball, then, with a sweep of his rapier-like foot, volleyed the ball which span and dipped and unbelievably, hit the back of the net.
A man 3 times my size with a skinhead rushed towards me, we embraced, he held me aloft, and we shared a moment which was probably only acceptable in his eyes on that day, at that time, but why the hell not.
We’d won it, fans leapt the barriers trying to get to the players, grown men sang with a tear in their eye, and players and supporters knew they would never, ever, witness something like this again.
Now, I know this is a Football League blog and that this is by far the most biased post i’ve written but as I’ve said before, I won’t apologise for being passionate.
And anyway, if you don’t appreciate this, your heart must be made of stone, or you must be a Chelsea fan, or both.
Please let me know what your favourite footballing comeback is and keep checking the blog for something a little more impartial, I promise.