Marcus Gayle was a hard working footballer who never gave anyone reason to hate him, right? Wrong. Danny Slevin explains why he’s still counting his losses, and it’s all Gayle’s fault.
If I was to pose the question of ‘where were you on September 11th 2001?’ there’s an excellent chance you’d be able to give me the answer in intricate detail. If I was to ask where you were four days later, on September 15th, can you remember? Thanks to the footballing inabilities of Marcus Gayle, I can.
With everything that had gone on in America during the 9/11 attacks it had been a strange week. I was due to fly out the following weekend to Turin to attend the Juventus Vs Celtic game in the Champions League. Having spent most of the week hoping and praying that air travel would return to normal, it was with massive relief I boarded the flight from Derry to London Stansted (with all hand luggage banned and a rigorous going over at check in). This was Saturday and my connecting flight to Turin wasn’t until the early hours of Monday morning. My mate, Mike, who lived in Hertfordshire, came to rescue me from having to spend a day and a half in Essex. It was through Mike that I had become a mild Watford fan (if pushed they are probably my “English team”), and as they were at home we decided to take in the Watford Vs West Brom game at Vicarage Road.
I’ve always been a firm advocate that gambling can enhance the enjoyment any football match and so it was that I stuck £10 of hard earned, student cash on a final score of 2-2 at 18/1. The match itself was fine – in writing this article I had to jog my memory of some of the finer details, and the match report from the West Brom website describes it as “Albion were involved in one of the great matches on their visit Watford”.
I wouldn’t go that far. West Brom were two up after an hour, and it was all looking a bit grim. Watford were managed by Gianluca Vialli at the time and the lime green v-neck woollen sweater he was sporting in the dugout had really been the only highlight for this adopted home fan.
Step forward Marcus Gayle. Gayle had recently joined Watford from Glasgow Rangers. Being a Celtic fan this brought a typical amount of contempt from me – not too much, truth be told I didn’t mind him, he had been part of a Wimbledon team I quite liked and had always done a reasonable job for me on Championship Manager. Plus, he’d only played a few times, unsuccessfully, during his time at Ibrox, so wasn’t entirely tainted. BOOM – he pulled one back, followed quickly by West Brom having a man sent off. 2-1 with 25 minutes to go against ten men, the bet was on! Watford proceeded to batter the West Brom box – so much so that I was getting quite concerned that they’d win.
There was six minutes injury time, and with the score still at 2-1, Watford were awarded a penalty with pretty much the last kick of them game. This was it: it would be 2-2 to Watford and, more importantly, £190 to me. Up stepped Marcus to take the penalty. What followed was the laziest penalty effort I’ve ever witnessed, I’m not sure he even took a run up for it. He passed it into the keeper’s welcoming arms. What a moron… The final whistle blew; I swore. Loudly.
The rest is unaccounted history. I went to Turin the next day to watch both me and Celtic get screwed once more by the footballing gods – this time courtesy of an injury time penalty from Nicola Amorouso (he actually took a run up and managed to score). The fact I spent nearly a £800 in total that week meant the £190 would have been very welcome. My bank account has not been in the black since and it’s all the fault of one man. Marcus Gayle: not forgiven, not forgotten.
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[Edit: I sent this to Marcus Gayle, and he responded: "haha,I remember the game,saved by russel holt. Students shouldn't be gambling anyway..silly !" Hard to argue with Marcus there.]