The long and rich history of Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Football Club

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Last Minute Drop Goal Winner

As rugby league fans we often have cause to question the justice of life. Take for example, the complicated art of dropping a goal late in a match, and the rewards it could bring. If you are Johnny Wilkinson, it could see you hailed as the saviour of an entire nation, knighthood bestowed and so on. Or if you are Deryck Fox it could earn you hearty pats on the back from team-mates, and gleeful shouts from crowd for a victory over big city rivals. It all depends.

Deryck did some kicking for GB too.
Of its type, Deryck Fox’s winner v Leeds in 1992 was far superior to Wilkinson’s efforts at the 2003 union world cup. A cracking game was locked at 20 all, the highlight of which had been a mighty battle between Bobby Goulding, selected for that summer’s GB Lions tour, and Fox, who had been inexplicably overlooked. In one of those rare moments of bliss for Rovers’ fans, Goulding got himself outplayed in front of the TV cameras, sent off the week after, suspended and removed from the tour in favour of our own skipper who went on to have a great time in Australia.

Fox’s last minute drop goal winner that day was unforgettable. Around 30 yards out, running diagonally towards the Leeds corner flag and shaping to spin out a pass to the three-quarters, Fox slotted a “reverse” drop-goal without breaking stride and hardly glancing at the posts beforehand. Pure genius. That the two precious points gained that day weren’t enough to keep us in the top flight is another story.

Brilliant though it was, this was not my favourite LMDGW from Fox. That came three years previously against Warrington. Another tight game stood 14-14 and a last minute penalty awarded to Rovers 45 yards out gave Fox the chance to snatch the game. For once in his long career he let us down as his kick sailed wide. Silent and not so silent curses rippled round the ground. His only saving grace was that he had at least sent the ball dead and we would have six tackles to attack the Wire line. Six tackles? Forget it. Warrington’s drop out went straight to Fox standing on the spot from which he’d missed the penalty, and he immediately launched a towering drop kick straight back over the heads of the advancing opposition and straight between the posts. You beauty!

It was Deryck’s third that day, and once again he finished that season among the league’s leaders for drop goals. A quick look at the Rovers’ all-time list reveals he just failed to catch Keith Bell in terms of his career total. No disgrace in that though, as Keith was an absolute master of the craft, and seemed to need so little space to add those often vital single points. The list of course lacks any players before 1974, as that is when the value of a “drop” was changed from two points to one. Goal kicking records from before then made no distinction between a drop, a penalty or a conversion, as they were all worth two points. Steve Nash, for example, would have to be near the top of the list if we reckon that most of his 72 career goals were probably drop goals.

No comments:

Post a Comment