Carlisle Change

Carlisle Paul Wilson, Observer football correspondent

There were two separate last gasp dramas in important matches in May, 1999. There was the extraordinary conclusion to the Champions League final, when late, late goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer secured the treble for Manchester United and left Bayern Munich players poleaxed on the Barcelona turf in pain and disbelief, and a couple of weeks earlier there had been the Roy of the Rovers finale to Carlisle United's season, when goalkeeper Jimmy Glass came up for a last minute set piece and ended up scoring the goal that kept the Cumbrians in the league.

I happened to be at both events. I don't think too many other people would have been, though I am not trying to claim exclusivity. I seem to recall Patrick Collins also covering both for the Mail on Sunday. I couldn't help but feel privileged at being asked to describe dramatic situations at both ends of the football spectrum. There is not much obvious similarity between Brunton Park and the Nou Camp, but any football arena can throw up the most unexpected denouements, and it is an enjoyable challenge to try to find the words to do justice to occasions that you know will be remembered and talked about for years to come.

Neither game was particularly memorable, only the closing stages. The Champions League final was upstaged a few years later by Liverpool's incredible comeback against Milan, whereas Jimmy Glass remains a byword for improbable escapes. He deserved his 15 minutes of fame, though the great Carlisle escape is not the whole of the story. Glass's goal meant Scarborough dropped out of the league instead, as heartbreaking a development for players who thought they had done enough to survive on final day as Solkskjaer's killer blow in Barcelona. Yet Bayern lived to fight again. They have been back to three European Cup finals since 1999, winning two of them. Scarborough, by contrast, sank without trace. They never made it back into the league, and folded in 2007. Football can be a game of cruel extremes as well as joyous ones.

Paul Wilson

Paul is a football writer for the Observer and Guardian

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulwilsongnm

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