Anorak News | Ghost Goals: The Most Unforgettable Football Goals That Weren’t

Ghost Goals: The Most Unforgettable Football Goals That Weren’t

by | 21st, October 2013

WHEN Bayer Leverkusen’s Stefan Kiessling header smashed into the Hoffenheim net during their recent Bundesliga match, referee Felix Brych had no hesitation in whistling for a goal. Players questioned the decision, but he brooked no disagreement.

Nothing unusual about that, except for one thing: the player doing most of the questioning was Kiessling himself, whose goal ‘celebration’ had consisted of holding his hands and grimacing. From his excellent vantage point he could see what the ref could not: that the ball had missed the goal and powered into the side netting. After that it had somehow slipped through the net and ended up nestling inside.

Bayer Leverkusen are set to formally request a replay, mindful of the precedent set by Nuremburg, whose 1994 match against Bayern Munich replayed after Bayern’s Thomas Helmer was awarded a goal for an attempt that didn’t go in.


But if Leverkusen are unsuccessful, they should be grateful for small mercies. In particular, they should thank their lucky stars that they are not Crystal Palace.

Palace have suffered numerous atrocious refereeing decisions, such as the failure to receive a blatant penalty in the FA Cup Final replay against Manchester United (lost 0-1) and an even worse series of decisions causing them to be relegated from the top division. But these pale beside the FIVE no-goal incidents in which they have been involved – all of which went in favour of the opposition.

If any other club can beat this roll of shame, we would like to hear about it.

Terry Wharton, home to Nottingham Forest, 28 August 1971

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Wharton’s powerful shot is deflected into the side-netting by a defender, but the referee points to the centre spot. Under protest from Forest defenders he then seeks a second opinion from Palace captain Steve Kember (pictured below), who admits it wasn’t in. Kember’s sportsmanship is rewarded with a second refereeing error: a goal-kick to Forest instead of a Palace corner. “There is plenty of room for honesty in the game,’”writes manager Bert Head in his next programme notes. “I’m sure his action will not be forgotten.”

It is not forgotten: Kember is transferred the following week.


Crystal Palace First Team Back Row: Borge Thorup, Mel Blyth, John Jackson, Roger Hynd, Frank Parsons, John McCormick, Bobby Woodruff. Centre: Grorge Petchey (Coach), Cliff Jackson, Colin Taylor, Steve Kember, Tony Taylor, David Payne, Roger Hoy, Hert Head (Manager). Seated: Gerry Queen, John Sewell, Frank Lazarus.

Jeff Bourne, away to Shrewsbury, 16 April 1977


A stubborn Shrews side is doing its best to upset Palace’s promotion bandwagon, but halfway through the second half the ball is misdirected across the goal by a defender and Bourne hammers it into the roof of the net. The ref awards a goal, but reverses his decision when Shrewsbury players draw his attention to a hole in the side netting. Justice is ultimately served when Bourne secures promotion with a goal in the final minute of the final game of the season (below).



Clive Allen away to Coventry, 6 September 1980


A free kick outside the area is tapped to Allen, who fires into the top corner. The ball rebounds off the stanchion and back into play. Referee Derek Webb (and commentator John Motson) both adjudge it to have came off the post; Palace players beg to differ. “I’m disgusted,” says manager Terry Venables of Webb. “Now, if he’s saying we’ve got to hit some particular part of the net – well, that’s different.”


Tommy Black, home to Leeds United, 16 February 2003


No Palace fan would have complained if Leeds United’s Michael Duberry had escaped without a red card and a penalty awarded against him. That is to say, no one would have objected if referee Dermot Gallagher had noticed that the ball was already a yard over the goal line when Duberry comically shovelled the ball back into play using his hands. Amazingly, the referee managed to miss both the goal AND the subsequent handball. Palace were denied a 2-1 lead and Dirty Leeds went on to win this live televised FA Cup quarter-final by that score.



Freddie Sears away to Bristol City, 15 August 2009


“You would like to think the match officials, the three of them, would have spotted the ball had crossed the line,” says referees’ chief Keith Hackett following this diabolical cock-up. Tommy Black smashes the ball in from point-blank range, whereupon it rebounds off the base of the stanchion and back into play. Neil Warnock is typically philosophical after losing 1-0 with a cobbled-together side as the club teeters on the edge of extinction. The match is NOT replayed.


Posted: 21st, October 2013 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comment | TrackBack | Permalink