LIFTING THE LID: To celebrate the anniversary of Britain’s first ever Golden Goal, we sat down for a chat with the scorer himself, Huddersfield Town’s Iain Dunn.
30th November, 1994. A landmark date in the history of British football, but also one consigned to the sport’s scrapheap of forgotten memories.
But not for former Huddersfield Town striker Iain Dunn.
Dunn’s five-yard finish into a near-empty net in extra-time of an unremarkable Auto Windscreens Shield second-round tie against Lincoln City on the date in question saw him secure a 3-2 victory for Huddersfield.
Yet it also ensured Dunn had etched his name into the history books as the first British player to ever settle a match by the then-newly introduced ‘Golden Goal’ – not that he was aware of it at the time.
“The golden goal, to be honest, wasn’t on anyone’s radar,” Dunn told Betdaq. “It was one of those occasions where it wasn’t a massive crowd, it was the very early stages of the competition… It wasn’t too long into extra-time, the ball just fell at my feet in the six-yard box and I swept it into the goal.
“Away I ran thinking, ‘We’re 3-2 up’. And then of course the whistle went and we suddenly all realised, ‘Oh right, that’s the golden goal!’ To be honest, we were just happy to win the game, but it was only in the dressing room that one of my team-mates said, ‘I think that will be the first ever British golden goal!’
The golden goal had been ushered in by FIFA just a year earlier in 1993 to settle matches that went into extra-time through a sudden death goal in an attempt to ramp up excitement, with smaller competitions being the first to trial it.
While Dunn, who also played for the likes of York City and Chesterfield, may have initially failed to realise the importance of his strike, the Football League were quick to recognise his achievement.
“At that time I genuinely hadn’t realised the enormity of it. I don’t think anyone realised this was the first golden goal to settle a game in British football,” Dunn said. “It was one of those moments where I was the lucky one. I was just in the right place at the right time and in the ball went – we beat Lincoln and I got the golden goal.
“Two days later I got a call from the secretary at Huddersfield saying the Football League wanted to speak to me about this goal. It was only then it dawned on me that it was the first, it was going to be in the history books for ever. It was more than just a cup tie-winning goal.
“About a week later and the Football League had presented me with a golden ball trophy to commemorate the achievement, which is still pride of place. It means more now than it did then – a crazy moment.”
Yet a decade later and the golden goal had been scrapped, along with its ill-fated relation, the ‘Silver Goal’, with football’s bold experiment ultimately failing to bring about the upturn in attacking football it was designed for.
“I can see why they got rid of it in the end, due to the excitement factor,” Dunn said. “It was exciting at the time, but you could see the frailties of it. Teams would end up shutting up shop as they were scared of conceding the goal. As magical as the golden goal was for those who scored it or won it, for those watching, it was a bit deflating.”
Today the golden goal stands as one of football’s often forgotten quirks. A blast of nostalgia from the 90s and early noughties, with Oliver Bierhoff and David Trezeguet’s respective Euro 96 and Euro 2000-winning strikes just a few of the rule’s surviving images.
“Years down the line I went with some mates to Magaluf. We went to the local and they were doing a quiz that night,” said Dunn, who today works as an environment and community officer for York City Council and commentates on York and Huddersfield games for the BBC.
“And of course, a question came up saying: who scored the first golden goal to settle a British football match? My mates obviously went absolutely giddy – though I didn’t get any free drinks that night! Thanks to the goal, I’d even made it as a quiz question in Spain…
“I was the first to do it in Britain and was one of the only ones – I don’t think many games were settled by the golden goal in British football. It all happened in a split second and has lasted an eternity. And it’s not too bad sitting alongside the likes of Oliver Bierhoff and David Trezeguet either.”