Chris Lakey: Fashanu - THAT goal, and his lasting legacy

Justin Fashanu playing for Norwich City Football Club against Liverpool on 9th February 1980, the ga

Justin Fashanu playing for Norwich City against Liverpool on February 9, 1980 - Credit: Archant Library

It probably won’t get much publicity, but next Tuesday is the anniversary of a momentous occasion at Carrow Road. 

It was on February 9, 1980, that City lost an amazing game 5-3 against Liverpool. 

Defeats can easily be blotted out once the yellow and green glasses are put on. But this one will never be forgotten. Why? Because of what happened in the 81st minute. 

City were 3-2 down. The pitch was a bog – but Justin Fashanu conjured up something special. 

Greg Downs, on the left, slipped as he played the ball across to Kevin Bond in the centre – midway inside the Liverpool half. Bond played it right again to John Ryan who passed it to forward to Fashanu, back to goal, a foot or two outside of the penalty area. Fashanu flicked up with his right boot, swivelled and volleyed the ball left-footed into the top left corner of Ray Clemence’s goal. 

“Fashanu... OH, WHAT A GOAL! That’s a magnificent goal,” - the words of commentator Barry Davies.  

Years later Liverpool defender Phil Thompson recalled the moment: “I remember the goal well. Big Al (Alan Hansen) was a bit closer to Justin at the time, thankfully. I’m not sure, but I think Justin might even have slightly mis-controlled the ball at first. The ball spun and Justin spun with it to hit it with this dip-volley. 

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“I can remember just looking at the flight of the ball with my mouth open wide and my instant reaction was, ‘Wow… goal of the season!’ The goal was nothing short of sensational. It went on to be named ‘Goal of the Season’ and rightfully so. 

"It was one of the best goals I ever saw scored against Liverpool. It would be hard to for me to pick out one single goal and say, ‘that was the best goal I ever saw scored against us.’ But put it this way, it was right up there.” 

It’s easy to forget that another couple of Liverpool goals earned them the win – the fourth completed a hat-trick for David Fairclough, who would go on to join the Canaries. 

Former Norwich City striker Justin Fashanu who died in 1998

Justin Fashanu - how god would that pose be as a statue outside Carrow Road? - Credit: Archant

Fashanu’s incredible strike will never be forgotten. Nor will the man himself. 

He’s no longer with us, of course, and plans are afoot for a permanent reminder of him outside Carrow Road. It will be fitting because while he didn’t play even 100 games for the Canaries, the club is – and the city of Norwich should be – rightly proud of him, as well as their own efforts to ensure that no one is treated unfairly, that discrimination is not tolerated. 

Fashanu was the first active footballer to tell the world he was gay. It is incredible that many, many years later it is still not something footballers are comfortable with doing. Hard to fathom. 

I often wonder what Fashanu would have been like today, as a modern-day player. Whether he would have been just as pioneering. Whether he would have been successful? Whether he would have been as brave? And how much has changed?

In a week when high profile footballers have been abused because of the colour of their skin, Fashanu the black gay footballer would either have been a beacon of hope for so many, or a target of hate for so few. 

It is difficult sometimes to separate Justin Fashanu the footballer from Justin Fashanu the man – not that it is necessary to do so. 

Both should be remembered. That goal is one reason. The continuing fight for so many is the other. 

Pigeon post

Watching King’s Lynn Town has become something of a passion in recent years, during which plenty of success has been achieved under Ian Culverhouse. 

Lynn play in the National League, the administrators of which are increasingly concerned about the rest of the season as clubs face huge revenue losses without fans allowed in, and now the likely loss of government aid. The long and the short of it is, the government say they can have loans not grants, which is what they started the season with. The league claim they were told it would be grants. Now they want the government to provide the minutes of the meetings when the cash aid was being discussed to prove their case. 

Excuse me, but we are talking north of £10m here – and you didn’t take your own notes? Are you kidding me? 

Now the league is asking its 66 member clubs to vote whether to scrap the season or not. They’ve sent out the resolutions out and given clubs 28 days to answer them. Yes, you read that right - 28 days. 

In the month of February, Lynn have six matches scheduled: three at home. It would have been more had they still been in the FA Trophy. Six matches, no fans, no revenue. 

Were these resolutions sent out tagged to the legs of pigeons? 

Carry on hugging

Norwich City players can’t help themselves from having a little hug when they’ve scored a goal (even if they have been in rather short supply of late). They’re not alone. 

But it is very difficult not to - it’s not like cricket where you can get hundreds of runs. Goals are comparatively rare, which is why telling players to keep their distance is difficult... and pretty much a waste of time. 

And frankly, there’s more chance of being infected at a corner kick, where the penalty area is packed with bodies from two sides, than hugging some of your own team-mates, with whom you share a tightly-controlled bubble. 

You won’t get players to stop hugging. If you enforce that, the game, as they say, is gone. 

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