When the ball cannoned off Craig Dawson past Lukasz Fabianski during West Ham’s helter-skelter draw with Arsenal last weekend it was the centre back’s second own goal in consecutive matches. It was also the second that West Ham conceded in this game as Tomas Soucek had inadvertently deflected Alexandre Lacazette’s shot into his own net earlier. It would be understandable if David Moyes was cursing his luck but such misfortune can follow teams and individuals around, as if they are drawn kicking and screaming towards one calamity after another.
It has been over four years since the last time a Premier League side registered a pair of own goals in the same match and that also happened to be against Arsenal who were gifted two goals by Swansea’s Jack Cork and Kyle Naughton. Swansea’s goalkeeper that day was none other than Fabianski who had been at Arsenal for seven years before his move to South Wales. Perhaps the Pole feels he owes a debt of gratitude to his former employers.
Jamie Carragher can certainly testify to this proclivity to shooting oneself in the foot; in September 1999 he managed a double dose of disaster with a pair of first half own goals of the most painful variety. To heap misery on top of misery both were in front of the Kop, the first came as early as the fourth minute – a flying near post header which was followed some 40 minutes later by an almost apologetic nudge through a crowd of bodies. For the coup de grâce, the grateful beneficiaries were none other than Liverpool’s fiercest rivals, Manchester United.
It was a day that Carragher will have wanted to forget but fellow Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville is not going to let that happen even over twenty years later, taking every opportunity to remind his former adversary. “He was one of the best,” Neville chipped in a few years ago. “We couldn’t do without his own goals at United!” Indeed Carragher is second in the Premier League OG charts with a not so heavenly seven. The fact that he scored only three for Liverpool in over 500 games consigns the Reds’ record Premier League appearance maker to negative goal territory.
Like Carragher another player who provided sterling service to his club with well over 200 games but shared the misfortune of notching two own goals with his head in the same match was Stoke’s Jonathan Walters against Chelsea in 2013. Stoke were renowned for being a tough nut to crack at the Britannia, where they were unbeaten in almost a year but Walters’ desperate double soon put paid to that.
The first was a spectacular flying header as he met a dangerous cross with the meat of his forehead, the other was a little uglier as a corner unwittingly came off the back of his head. Walters was offered the chance of some redemption late in the game when John Terry tripped him in the area. But the Irishman completed a particularly nightmarish day by firing the spot kick way over the bar and that miss that confirmed their worst home top flight defeat for 27 years.
Another past master in the art of own goals, in fact this unrivalled maestro is worthy of his own entry and a separate blog post will be devoted entirely to this man’s penchant for self-inflicted wounds. Just as Johan Cruyff has his trademark turn and Antonin Panenka his own brand of penalty, then by all rights there should be the Richard Dunne OG. The Irishman was almost inevitably involved in one of the games to feature another team scoring two own goals.
Dunne was with his last club QPR when he started things off in the Liverpool game back in October 2014 with a classic swipe of his not so trusty left foot, in what was the tenth and final own goal of his prolific career. After Eduardo Vargas had drawn QPR level twice, with the last coming in the 92nd minute, the stage was set for Steven Caulker to round things off with another own goal as he turned Raheem Sterling’s cross into the unguarded net in the very last action of the match. He must have been watching his fellow centre back’s exploits closely as this was almost Dunne-esque in its awkwardness.
However, the purest example of this particular brand of catastrophe is reserved for Sunderland who managed to outdo all comers with a quite farcical masterclass in tomfoolery against Charlton on 1st February 2003. Not once, not twice, but three times the Black Cats contrived to score own goals in the space of seven barely credible first-half minutes. As manager Howard Wilkinson mournfully reflected afterwards “There’s not a lot you can do about that. It was unbelievable. I’ve never been involved in a game, or watched a game, where there were three own goals.”
It all started in the 24th minute when Stephen Wright put an end to a game of penalty area pinball by planting it into his own net. Not to be outdone, Michael Proctor then managed to do it twice in quick succession for Wilkinson’s beleaguered men. The first one bordered on the comical as a shot rebounded off Thomas Sorensen to be met by the onrushing Proctor who sent it scuttling back past the Danish keeper. The fans at the Stadium of Light did not see the funny side and their exasperation reached boiling point when the hapless Proctor turned his back on a corner which then found its way past an exasperated Sorensen.
This was hara-kiri of the highest order and meant that Sunderland were consigned to the bottom of the table, a position they made their own. After such a horror show one might have expected some sort of bounce back during the remainder of the season but Sunderland did not add a single point in their remaining dozen games, finishing on a paltry 19 points, which at the time was the lowest total in Premier League history. In fact they only scored three home goals in their last six fixtures, matching their quick-fire trinity of own goals in seven minutes on that fateful February afternoon.
Among all this rubble strewn across the years perhaps the strangest trait of this motley collection is that all these self-inflicted wounds were perpetrated by sides playing in front of their own fans. By generously gifting their visitors such unexpected treats the hapless handful were clearly intent on reinforcing the old adage that charity does indeed begin at home.