England v USA, 1950


Today’s edition of The Guardian newspaper includes an ‘unofficial matchday programme’ for today’s World Cup encounter. Unfortunately the feature on page 14 of this is accompanied by a picture which does not show the goal scored by Joe Gaetjens, but an attempt that went over the bar.

Joe Gaetjens (USA) and goalkeeper Bert Williams (England) watch as the ball passes over the bar and onto the top of the net, outside the goal

This what the US soccer historian Colin Jose has told me about this picture: “This is not a picture of the goal. Look closely at this picture and you can see that the ball is outside of the net, not inside. Walter Bahr [who played for the USA in that match] tells me that this is a shot that went over the bar and is running down the mesh. When Joe Gaetjens scored he was lying flat on the ground, having deflected Walter Bahr’s shot/cross.”

Tony Mason, writing in the latest issue of Soccer History looks at the evidence and concludes: “Some accounts describe it as a long shot through a crowd of players, probably deflected past the England goalkeeper. Others claimed it was a header by Gaetjens but after exploring the major sources it seems likely that a shot at goal struck Gaetjens on the head and was deflected wide of the England goalkeeper.”

The actual goal. Gaetjens is out of the picture to the left as his header enters the net. England defender Alf Ramsey (in blue shirt) and US outside left Eddie Souza look on.

One thing is for certain, there is unlikely to be any doubt of how any goals are scored this evening with intense media coverage of the match.

Finally, congratulations to Bert Williams, the England goalkeeper in the match, who today was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.


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