Worthington – Bolton vs Ipswich – 1979

Andrew Thomas aka @Twisted_Blood gives a beautiful account of Frank Worthington’s most famous goal. 

Within about six yards of space, Frank Worthington touches the ball five times. The first two, head then foot, calm the bouncing ball; the fourth, back over his own head, leaves the Ipswich defence a smoking ruin; the fifth, a dismissive slap into the net.
But it’s the third touch — the second keepy-uppy — that makes the goal. Analogous to the comma in “Reader, I married him”, or the tiny silence before the guitars drop in “Like Herod”, the simple act of holding on that extra beat both enables and enhances the goal. It gives the defenders another moment; they take one more step, and damn themselves. It allows Worthington to centre his balance and gather his momentum. From there, he’s able to initiate the smooth transfer of weight that, when placed against the onrushing back-line, gives the goal its sorcerous quality.
And it is sorcery. It’s dark and dangerous magic. A tap and a flick, and Frank Worthington — a man never short of a glamorous assistant; a man who twice failed a medical at Shankly’s Liverpool because of high blood pressure induced by, basically, too much shagging; a man who played a mere eight games for a country afraid of his skill and his hedonism — has just made an entire defence disappear. The crowd gasp, and rise as one.

12 comments on “Worthington – Bolton vs Ipswich – 1979

  1. Tony Williams on said:

    I was at the match and saw this goal first hand it was magical. When the goal went in the crowd was silent for a second because they could not beleive what had happened.
    Frank was a legend before this goal but know he is more.

  2. “A man who played a mere eight games for a country afraid of his skill and his hedonism”.

    Respectfully, bollocks.
    Not the subject for this blog but a good subject for another one?

    • GhostGoal on said:

      The 70s does seem a strange time in English football when it comes to mavericks and their relationship with the national team (Rodney Marsh and countless others). What are your views on it?

      • You can understand why that generation would claim this as the reason they didn’t get as many caps as Bobby Charlton, but I don’t know why fans fall for it.
        One man’s maverick is another man’s unprofessional, selfish pisshead, to quote Alf Ramsay.

    • twistedblood on said:

      Frank Worthington: 8 caps
      Peter Osgood: 4 caps
      Charlie George: 1 cap
      Stan Bowles: 5 caps
      Rodney Marsh: 9 caps

      And I’m sure there are more. Look at the managers across that period: you’ve got the tail-end of Ramsey, who famously ended Marsh’s career and removed the wingers and flair-players from the team. You’ve got Joe Mercer, briefly, and then you’ve got Don Revie. While Revie’s Leeds played some decent football in amongst all the kicking, he wasn’t one for tolerating or indulging mavericks.

      I’m sure there is a decent blog or two in there somewhere. And, though I’ve not read it, I’m told this is a good book on the subject:


      (Incidentally, Kieron Dyer has got 33 England caps. 33! Blimey.)

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  4. OneDaveBamber on said:

    I love this goal, an all-time classic, but at the same time reminiscent of ‘anything goes’ park football. Just beautiful.

  5. Pingback: Wishing the days away « Twisted Blood

  6. Bluepeter on said:

    I was there.
    Being an Ipswich fan a young Alan Brazil and John Wark won the day for Town 3-2.Fantastic goal for Worthington.

  7. Chris Moore on said:

    As a Leicester fan I am jealous Frank scored ‘that’ goal for Bolton. FW was a genius for us, & apart from George Best the most naturally gifted player I & a lot of other fans of that era have ever seen. To his credit Gary Lineker said Frank had more skill in his left big toe than I had in my body. Very great player who’s England career was wrecked by Don Revie along with a few other flair players

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