Peter Crouch scored his first and second goals for Liverpool yesterday at Anfield, but for some reason there were people wanting to credit the goal to the opposition keeper as an own goal.
The Press Association amended their records after the match, changing it from a Crouch goal to an own goal. Sky Television had two studio guests arguing over whether it was a goal – former England under-21 manager David Platt adamant it was an own goal, former Red Jamie Redknapp explaining clearly why he thought it was Crouch’s goal.
The ball had already been deflected by a Wigan defender before the goalkeeper made an attempt to try and stop the ball going in the net. The claim that the goalkeeper had scored it seems strange, given that it was already on its way in. There’s no difference between the goalkeeper touching the ball this way and a goalkeeper getting a hand to a penalty and seeing it go in.
If the powers-that-be want to start crediting goals to the last player to touch it, regardless of whether the ball was already on target, then that’s fine with us – just make sure that it’s done consistently. That includes goalkeepers getting fingertips to penalties, or not quite diverting a free kick round the post.
As far as Liverpool FC are concerned there’s no doubt about the goal being credited to Crouch. Rick Parry, the Reds Chief Executive, said it will be officially recorded at Anfield as Crouch’s goal: "It’s ridiculous that people are suggesting Peter’s opener this afternoon was an own goal. Just because the goalkeeper touches a goalbound effort before it enters the net does not mean that it should be registered as an own goal. Our official records will record that Peter scored twice against Wigan Athletic. There is absolutely no reason for any panel to consider whether the goal should be credited to him."
Crouch was stunned to be asked if he’d thought the first goal was his. Speaking to Sky after the game he said: "The first one took a big slice of luck obviously but that’s what I’ve been missing recently. To get the goals today was great. I’m pleased I can move on now, hopefully. I’m really pleased because I was getting a bit of stick recently. It was a great team performance and it was good to get the three points." Crouch was more pleased about the fact that the drought was over: "I am naturally buoyant and a happy person but at times it was getting me down but the goal has gone in and I can get on with things now."
Crouch’s boss Rafael Benitez agreed: "I’m pleased for Peter to get his two goals and he deserved them. The first goal is his. I was at a manager’s meeting in Geneva recently with FIFA and we agreed that when a striker has a shot and it’s deflected then it’s the striker’s goal."
The fact is that it’s great for Crouch to have broken his duck, it’s a shame that there’s now going to be so much debate over what is really such a minor issue. It’s not an argument over whether a goal should have stood or not, whether a player should have been sent off or not. It makes no difference to the result. So why the debate? Purely and simply to appease the bookmakers, who need to reduce their payout for the first goalscorer. The Press Association have awarded it as an own goal. Liverpool FC have awarded it to Crouch. The FA will no doubt say one thing on their website and then something else entirely different a little later. No doubt the bookies have it in their rules who’s word they take in these instances, but why should a few journalists get the say in whether it was a goal?
Maybe it should be something decided by the Pools Panel.