'My demons have been put to bed and my conscience is clear now, and we would have still lost regardless,' the 60-year-old said.
A former schoolboy footballer who scored a controversial equalizer during a match between two primary schools 50 years ago recently organized a rematch to help clear his conscience. Graeme Jones, a former Royal Navy training instructor from the village of Gayton in England, said he was determined to put things right after he learned how the match outcome had a lasting "impact" on his aggrieved local rivals. According to Telegraph, Jones admitted to shoving the opposition goalkeeper into the net with his hands on the ball "five yards" over the goal line to earn a controversial draw for Gayton Primary against St. Peter's CofE Primary September in 1972.
Speaking to BBC, the 60-year-old said he decided to organize a rematch during the COVID-19 lockdown days after coming across a local newspaper cutting about the game. Jones said that while he "thought nothing more of it," his neighbor Craig Allen—who scored St. Peter's goal in 1972—commented that "everyone remembers your dodgy goal." Jones, who admitted that he "always knew it was a foul," then spent 18 months assembling the same line-up from the controversial match. "The keeper jumped to catch the ball from a corner and I decided [he] and the ball were all going over the line," he said of the match in 1972.
Dodgy goal guilt sees 1972 Wirral schools match replayed - BBC News https://t.co/e86kUwQwJz— Raised By Feral Cats 🏴☠️ 🏁 #SuperBi (@rmltpie) August 31, 2022
"You'd never get away with it in today's game, but I said [to Craig] 'listen, you can't change history.' I said 'we're all 60 now, it's not as if we're going to play the game again, is it?'" Jones recalled. However, this comment turned out to be a "lightbulb moment" and when curiosity got the better of him, he set about finding "the original other 10 guys" and arranging a rematch. Although some of the original players were abroad when he reached out to them, everyone agreed to take part in the redo match. Jones even managed to get his former PE teacher, Alan Jones—who had awarded his team their contentious equalizer—to observe the coin toss before officiating the match for the first five minutes of play at Heswall FC's ground on August 28.
The teams are ready. Re-enacting a junior football match 50 years after Graeme Jones unfairly scored a late goal to rescue a draw for his side back in September 1972. He's lived with the guilt ever since. pic.twitter.com/Q4KsWXQPC7— Elaine Willcox (@ElaineWITV) August 27, 2022
Although the pace of the game was not quite as fast as it was five decades ago, according to Jones, it was just as competitive. "A couple of the guys, including myself, went into the game with injuries... but we weren't going to let anybody down," he said. At the end of the 60-minute match, the St Peter's CofE Primary team finally settled the score with a 6-2 win. "We got stuffed because they had to bring on a couple of ringers. But my demons have been put to bed and my conscience is clear now, and we would have still lost regardless," said Jones. "As I said before, if we lose, we lose, and I wanted to turn a wrong into a right."
REMATCH OF THE DAY - A man organised a replay of a school football match - after 50 years of feeling guilty for scoring a 'foul' goal.— SWNS Leeds (@SWNSLeeds) August 29, 2022
Graeme Jones, 60, admitted shoving the keeper with the ball over the goal line to earn a “dubious” draw.
📸 Tom Maddick pic.twitter.com/TtLtFUdLhI
The two teams also managed to make a bigger impact with their rematch, raising almost £2,000 ($2,310) to buy sports equipment for both schools. "I had to bully a few people into doing it. And then it was a case of 'I've got these guys, you've got to play—you're irreplaceable, I need you there,' and I got all 11," Jones said of how he managed to get everyone together. "The opposition got a team together, but I gave them some leeway on their side in terms of age. I was amazed to find that Alan Jones is still alive and is fit and healthy in his early to mid-80s."