“…The definitive better late than never goal…”
Not my words, rather, the words of Sky Sports commentator Ian Crocker. He’s having to scream each syllable down his microphone to the benefit of, not only the television viewers, but himself too.
“I think we’ve just seen the goal that’s won the championship, here,” adds the pundit, allowing Crocker to catch his breath.
On my television screen, some 300 miles away from Glasgow in the sleepy Cambridgeshire village of Burwell, Maurice Edu is lost under a plethora of blue-shirted bodies. Cutting to a long shot of the crowd, hysteria seems contagious; chaos doesn’t quite cut-it as a sufficient adjective. Frantic outbursts of joy fill the stands of Ibrox as the realization hits that, not only have Rangers won the game, but they’ve also clinched the title.
I’ve buggered off out of the room at this point, having sprinted the length of my house in celebration. Admittedly, it took a few moments to realise that Edu had indeed bundled it in, but when I realised, I couldn’t contain myself. The joy of football is thus; unbridled euphoria at seeing a victory unfold before your eyes.
“…and you can see what it means… to Rangers Football Club…” Crocker shrieks.
With the match into stoppage time, Rangers had a corner on the far side. Kevin Thompson’s out-swinging delivery wasn’t met by anyone in particular, so Madjid Bougherra peeled off to pick up the loose ball. What he did next was crucial. The first touch, on his chest, controlled the ball with such deadly accuracy that trajectory was changed entirely, baffling Ki Sung-Yeung’s advances. His second touch, a half-volley that bulleted the ball into Artur Boruc’s path.
The next few moments, which at the time seemed to last an eternity, actually happened in just under two seconds. The mêlée caused by Boruc’s spill was akin to the depiction of a fight between two or more Looney Tunes. A big mess, a grey cloud with several boots flying about.
Boruc dropped it into the path of the number 9, Kris Boyd, who made connection with his knee. The effort, spilled by the Polish keeper, zipped back onto the striker’s thigh, though again, failed to cross the line. By this stage six bodies surrounded the ball; three green, two blue and the goalkeeper.
Clawing away desperately, Boruc’s frustration was about to reach a painful crescendo. Instead of scooping the ball back, his fingertips knocked it underneath, straight into the path of Edu, who pounced.
“…and Maurice Edu gets an absolute gift… and one that should be enough to get Rangers over the championship finishing line…”
Three months later. The same pitch, same fans and the same team; but the euphoria is dimmed to a slight buzz. Rangers have won the title by six points, following a 3-3 with Motherwell. Yet still, everyone is talking about that moment. The moment that won it for the 53rd time. The moment Maurice Edu etched his name into Ibrox folklore.
It wasn’t even a beautiful goal. But damn it, it was a beautiful moment.