Scotland Wales Northern Ireland
BBC Homepage feedback | low graphics version
BBC Sport Online
You are in: Football  
Front Page 
Eng Prem 
FA Cup 
World Cup 2002 
Champions League 
Uefa Cup 
Worthington Cup 
Eng Div 1 
Eng Div 2 
Eng Div 3 
Eng Conf 
Scot Prem 
Scottish Cup 
CIS Ins Cup 
Scot Div 1 
Scot Div 2 
Scot Div 3 
Rugby Union 
Rugby League 
Other Sports 
Sports Talk 
In Depth 
Photo Galleries 
TV & Radio 
BBC Pundits 
Question of Sport 
Funny Old Game 

Around The Uk

BBC News

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
The curse of the ex factor
Alun Armstrong scores Ipswich's second against Middlesbrough
Alun Armstong's double was destined to happen
When ex-players return to their former clubs, they invariably end up on the score sheet. BBC Sport Online's Pranav Soneji investigates further.

The most clairvoyant of Middlesbrough fans probably saw it coming.

When Alun Armstrong, who made only 10 appearances for Boro in three seasons, scored twice at the Riverside Stadium, it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise.

His brace of goals maintained Ipswich's Champions League prospects and made Boro sweat further at the wrong end of the Premiership.

To compound the home side's misery further, Armstrong took his Tractor Boys tally to eight in 11 games - the kind of goalscoring form Middlesbrough are desperately in need of.

And at 500,000, Ipswich manager George Burley must be wondering why Boro ever showed the striker the exit door.

But scoring on old stomping grounds is not a new phenomena in the world of football.

Denis Law poses with a Manchester City shirt on
Denis Law: Manchester United hero/villain
It is possibly the ardent fan's worst nightmare.

An ex-player, returning for the first time, is promptly booed or labelled a "reject" every time he touches the ball.

However he invariably has the last laugh and scores the all decisive winning goal.

Manchester United fans will often point - begrudgingly - to that fateful Manchester derby on 27 April 1974 when a Denis Law backheel relegated his former club into the Second Division.

The former United legend, who dubbed the game as "the worst weekend of my life", was inconsolable as he shunned the celebratory congratulations of his City team-mates as they ambled back to the half-way line.

Maurice Johnston did not exactly endear himself to Celtic fans when he signed for Old Firm rivals Rangers in 1989 - especially as he seemed destined to return to Parkhead from French club Nantes.

The striker was enticed to Ibrox for 1.5m by Rangers manager Graeme Souness.

Celtic supporters described him as the greatest soccer Judas in history - despite the fact that he had scored 55 goals in 99 games for The Bhoys.

Mo Johnston celebrates a Rangers victory with a fan
Mo Johnston eventually won the Rangers fans over
Rangers fans were just as dismayed by the acquisition of the first Catholic to don the Rangers jersey in nearly 50 years

However, when he scored a late goal in the Old Firm derby in November 1989, he won over the Ibrox faithful while simultaneously infuriating the Celtics fans even more.

When Sir Alex Ferguson snapped Andy Cole up from Newcastle for a then British transfer record of 7m in 1995, the Toon Army were in disbelief.

How could Kevin Keegan let their star striker, who scored 68 goals in only 84 appearances for Newcastle, move to rivals Manchester United?

Although Cole was not an instant hit at Old Trafford, he still managed to score the Reds' first goal in their 2-0 victory over the Magpies some 10 months after departing, rubbing the salt deeper in the Geordie wounds.

One player who had a host of former clubs and scores to settle - both footballing and personal - was Stan Collymore.

Stn Collymore looks disconsolate
Collymore had plenty of scores to settle
His turbulent 18-month reign at Liverpool finally ended in May 1995 when Aston Villa manager Brian Little paid 7m for his services.

Collymore's comments saying he didn't want to be a member of Liverpool's infamous 'Spice Boys' clique earned him the wrath of the Anfield faithful, who were keen to see him fail whenever he played against them.

But when he scored two goals against Liverpool to earn Aston Villa a 2-1 victory in February 1998, the Liverpool fans chants of 'Anfield reject' only served as a greater motivation to put one past his former club.

However, the Kop got its revenge when Collymore was sent off in the corresponding fixture the season after.

But it seems whenever a footballer returns to his former club, their propensity to suddenly score goals suddenly increases twofold - much to the annoyance of the home fans.

Search BBC Sport Online
Advanced search options
See also:

Links to top Football stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to other Football stories

^^ Back to top