The best I’ve ever seen #1: Rory Fallon’s overhead strike vs Bristol City. 10 April 2004

In the first of a new feature celebrating the best matches, goals, players, kits, moments etc at Swindon Town, Alex Cooke still gets excited by the stunning chest-trap and overhead volley scored against Bristol City by Swindon’s Kiwi striker Rory Fallon.

New Zealand is most famous as background. That says a lot about a country. Two beautiful and pathologically civilised islands have a global reputation for pretending to be somewhere else. The islands’ footballers have always been similarly modest. And they should be. They play twenty-second fiddle to rugby, pro-am shove ha’penny, competitive Concords watching and twanging yourself off stuff with elastic bands.

Rory Fallon fitted the stereotype although at first he’d seemed like a brute, announcing himself to with a goal for Barnsley against Swindon. He butted a header through, not past, Bart Griemink at Oakewell. But once Andy King had brought him to Swindon he showed his true nature, becoming back-up to Tommy Mooney and Sam Parkin. They were a prolific partnership, but against Bristol City, the Mooney/Parkin pairing hadn’t worked. Fallon was thrust into the limelight alongside them in the 66th minute.

Goals are defined by their context: of the game in which they are scored, of the season and of the scorer’s career. But Fallon’s goal is great because stands distinct from its context. It doesn’t matter that it was a promotion battle: Swindon were pushing for the play-offs and Bristol City were also chasing promotion (Obviously they didn’t get it. Evil never triumphs).

This was a goal totally unsuited to the doughy, stodgy derby in which it sat. This was a goal of which more creative men should write songs, more delicate men should write poems and more talented men could describe in less than 600 words.

It started with a hoof. Well with Matt Heywood and Alan Reeves at the back that season, most things did. Fallon used his ample chest, less to control the ball than knock it high into the air. At first it looked like a mistake. Then he fell elegantly back, swinging a sequoia-like leg above his head and arcing the ball into the net.

Again it looked like a mistake. The ball seemed destined to slam into the Town End roof. Instead it drew out a long parabola, crashing just under the bar. ‘Keeper Steve Phillips clawed at it but his efforts were feeble and twatty.

Okay, the defender could have been closer to Fallon, denying him the room to control and swing his boot. And some on YouTube seem to think the ‘keeper could have done better (although many of the commentators on there seem to think the Queen Mother inserted sticks into boys and ate them like toffee apples).

The strike didn’t earn Rory Fallon the place among the select few – he modestly remained in the background. “I want to get picked if I deserve to get picked but I’m not going to hassle him” [manager Andy King], hardly the attitude of a man who has just scored what can be called a thunderbastard.

A play off goal against Brighton again seemed to be a scene stealer but wasn’t. And while the departures of Mooney, Parkin and pretty much every other good player, made him the only leading light, he never really dominated. Even among the loanees, misfits and Micheal Pook.

Instead Swansea, Plymouth and Aberdeen went on to benefit from his services. In the backwaters of Scotland he again thrust himself out of the background, scoring a goal for the Dons, much like the one described here. But it wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen.

Do you want to nominate an entry into our ‘Best I’ve Ever Seen’ feature? Pick the best match, goal, save, kit, goal celebration, promotion, team, player, substitute…the possibilities are endless. Contact us via the form below with your contact details and your nomination and we’ll be in touch.

 

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