FAMOUS FIVE: Great City free kicks

Robert Snodgrass curled in a beauty last weekend, and that it was a) at “bloody” Burnley, and b) in the 95th minute made it even sweeter. Any excuse to recall some previous sweet, timely or just memorable goals from a dead ball…

1: Garry Parker v Plymouth Argyle, 1987/88

ParkerFKProbably the most individually gifted player in City colours during the 1980s, and certainly one of the most successful in his post-City life, Parker’s parting shot was just that, a belter of a free kick that showcased his tremendous talent irrespective of whether the ball is in transit or not. City were a goal down against a middling Plymouth side courtesy of an early bit of typical close-range plundering from Stewart Evans and the locals were getting restless.

This wasn’t surprising, as City’s record from the early part of 1988 onwards wasn’t exactly stellar; no wins since giving Leeds a seeing-to three days into the new year. Parker, with his streaked mullet and laconic style on the ball, was very much the player through whom City tried everything in the centre of the park, and when a free kick was won on the edge of the visitors’ box, there were no other candidate to have a pop at goal.

Now Parker was known for his deliciously accurate flighting of the ball. His trajectories were special, his ability to curl the leather with either inside or outside of the foot with precision bordering on legendary, but power hadn’t been his great strength in two and a half years at Boothferry Park. So it was with surprise as well absolute delight that the shot he crashed past wall and keeper (the bewildered Steve Cherry) and into the top corner of the net was, as anyone in the South Stand seats that day will attest, one of the straightest, fastest and most devastating he had ever hit.

It was also the last. The game settled for a 1-1 draw and Parker, who was being watched by Nottingham Forest assistant manager Ronnie Fenton, signed for them three days later, transfer deadline day, for a club record £260,000. The deal provided an extra stick with which to beat the under-fire Horton, even though the manager brought in Keith Edwards and Wayne Jacobs on the same day, and he was out of a job within a month.

2: Geovanni v Tottenham Hotspur, 2008/09

GeoFKThe Brazilian was brought in to sprinkle some stardust over City’s newly-promoted, history-making but limited bunch of players, and did so with real style. After blootering in the greatest goal of any City player in the Premier League era, he followed it up with this (1’06” in, below).

Early though the goal was, it knocked the stuffing out of Tottenham a meagre week after he – and we – had done the same further along the Seven Sisters Road at Arsenal.

3. Andy Dawson v Middlesbrough, 2006/07

DawsonAFKMost of the elder Dawson’s goals for City in ten distinguished years were free kicks, and you could name any of them as special. We’ve gone for this one because it was not an obvious free kick for a left-footer, making it all the more impressive; it formed one half of his only brace of goals in City colours (he’d already scored with a header) and because it satisfyingly clattered the crossbar on the way in. Oh, and it brought the score back to just 4-3 behind against a Boro side who had been 3-0 up in a pulsating FA Cup third round replay.

We have no way of backing this up, but we reckon Dawson scored more free kicks for City than anyone else, and if Stan McEwan’s official historian is reading this and would like to state anything to the contrary, we’d be delighted to hear from you. And, on that very note…

4. Stan McEwan v Orient, 1984/85

McEwanFKTalk of the devil. McEwan was the uncompromising centre back who, unusually for a man of his position on the field of play, was also City’s mid-80s go-to player for set-pieces and penalties. However, the subtlety levels he showed when introducing a centre forward’s buttocks to the toe of his right boot were replicated when it came to his delivery of these dead balls, reliant as he was on sheer brute force.

As good an example as any came against Orient in the spring of 1985, with City on the way to promotion from Division Three. He took a run-up that would have made Seb Coe do a series of precautionary stretching exercises, prior to wellying the ball into the net from 30 yards with keeper Rhys Wilmot barely able to blink. Had Billy Whitehurst not had the temerity to score a hat-trick in a game which City won 5-1, more attention would have gone McEwan’s way. Free kicks like this, not to mention the penalties, became as much of a trademark as his uncompromising defending and meant that extra strong twill was on order each season to hang between the posts at Boothferry Park.

5. Billy Bremner v Nottingham Forest, 1976/77

billy-bremnerIt was 40 years ago this weekend that Bremner played his final game for Leeds United. Two weeks later he was making his Hull City debut, and as a result a bunch of glory-hunters made the Boothferry Park railings groan somewhat, with Brian Clough’s future European champions providing the opposition. The free kick wasn’t amazing – it bounced once before crossing the line and John Middleton, in the Forest goal, should have had it, but it was the perfect way for a genuine icon of the game – albeit one with a controversial, divisive career behind him – to mark his new territory, 70 miles away from his old one.

Bremner peaked on his debut, all told. He lasted two years, missed out on the manager’s job during his second season after John Kaye got the boot, and walked away in a huff after relegation in 1978. He isn’t remembered fondly in East Yorkshire, but we suspect he’d have rather been remembered negatively than forgotten completely.