I wonder if those that left the Etihad on Sunday before the final whistle will have learnt a valuable lesson?

Let me take you back…Newcastle United v Bolton Wanderers January 3rd 1983.

I’m 13 years old, season ticket holder with my dad in the West Stand ‘A’ Wing Seats (The Milburn Stand – last block of seats before the Gallowgate corner starts nowadays).  Second Division football and a certain Kevin Keegan is the main man on the pitch.

There are 89 minutes on the clock and Newcastle have been trailing 1-0 with ten men for most of the game, after Terry McDermott is sent off early doors.  But what’s this, a late equaliser from Chris Waddle to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat?  However, Bolton go straight back down the other end and before you can say, “point gained”, we’re behind 2-1.

Howay son, that’s it”, says my old man and who am I to argue!!  We make our way down the old wooden stairs to where the entrance to the back of the paddocks were and ultimately the exits.  Those in the seats and those who chose to stand would use the same turnstiles back then.

As we neared the bottom of the stairs we heard the noise of the crowd build to a crescendo and then for a brief moment silence broke out…followed by an almighty roar!!

I rushed to the entrance at the back of the paddock and people were going crazy.  I could just make out the ball nestled in the back of the Boltonnet through the jubilant crowd.  ‘Get in there 2-2’ was the initial emotion but tinged with regret that I had not witnessed this live.  Mick ‘Zico’ Martin!!

Needless to say I’ve never left the match early again, regardless of the score.  My nephew left the epic Arsenal comeback at 4-0 with Arsenal down to 10 men after bumping into a pal on the concourse who persuaded him to go to the pub instead.  He left Ewood Park before Cabaye snatched a late equaliser in the Carling Cup this season too.  Would you ever forgive yourself?

When I used to sit in the Leazes, there was a bloke who was a ringer for Alan Sugar who would leave with his son about 5 minutes before the end of every game.  I’m sure that bairn must have grown up thinking football matches only last 85 minutes.  He must have missed a few late goals but maybe that was his way of bringing us some luck?  His loss though!!

Admittedly I’ve missed the odd goal due to my bladder being unable to hold out for 45 minutes but that can be credited to being a ‘lucky piss’ as I always return to my seat until the final whistle!!

I can think of countless other last minute dramas that I could have missed.  Twice at Anfield I’d rather forget but which make you appreciate the ones that go your way, like the injury time Watto goal against the same opposition in ‘95.  Other positive examples include Beardsley’s last minute winners against Spurs away in ’93 and Arsenal at home in ’95,  Solano’s 4-3 at Elland Road in 2001, 2-0 down 3-2 up at Derby in 2002, Feyenoord in the Champions League as well as the aforementioned 4-4 against Arsenal – I’m sure you’ll have your own memories.

The moral of the story is that we become exposed to new situations in life as football fans.  Whether we choose to modify our behaviour as a result boils down to our own attitudes and beliefs.  With hindsight, the lesson learned in 1983 has stood me in good stead since.


  • Chris

    My brother wanted to leave the Blackburn FA Cup game a few minutes early so it was easier to get home. My reply was “No, because we’re going to score from this” and we did. Never left a match early before, don’t really want to start now.

  • Anonomous

    I can never understand people that leave early – You’re as likely to score at the end of a game as you are at any other time. Pisses me off when you’ve got to stand up and get out of their way as they go past you too. It’s 90 minutes FFS – I’m sure your mrs doesn’t mind the extra 5 minutes at the end :-)

  • DM

    A lot of people leave their seats but watch the tellies on the concourses…then skiddaddle when the whistle goes…

    • Biggazza

      Kid next to me left half time Bolton game, missed Ben Arfa’s wonder goal. Muppet. Lol

  • Mick B

    My mate Robbie you are right I remember years ago a game v Charlton we were getting beat 3-1 with about 5mins left me & my mate Elder left when we got on the bus we learned we had won 4-3 never again.
    Do these people when they go to the cinema leave 5-10mins before the end of the film I just don,t understand it.

  • Al

    Great article!

    Would be too embarrassed to leave a game early – or slip away for half time on 40 mins. Always amazes me

  • Dm Drewe

    I agree but we shouldn’t be too smug because a disappointing number left at the end of the City game rather than give the team a deserved  send off. Also, I have a guy who sits in front of me who leaves at 78 minutes whatever the kick off time, what’s all that about?  Even better 3 lads on the same row left the Arsenal game last year at half time.  

  • Couldn’t agree more; going mental after the Cabaye free kick at Blackburn is something I’ll always remember! Wouldn’t have that memory if I’d gone early, can never understand why people do.

  • Macc Geordie

    Exactly the same game taught me the same lesson but we left when it was 1-0 .It was freezing and Davie Mac had suffered a horrible injury .

    Like you never again

  • MF

    i was always brought up to clap the players off until the last one is down the tunnel.  we must have the only ground in the country that is nearly empty when our last player leaves the pitch and that’s even after great results/matches.  i’ve had a few away fans comment to me that they’ve seen nowt like it. 

  • Otter

    Coming from the Isle of Man, we were at the spurs game this season when shola bagged one late to make it 2-2, and we were never leaving early with the chance to win it…and we missed our flight home and had to stay an extra night! thats commitment! haha

  • Mickb

    On the other side of the coin there is also the missing the early goal as I think you were there Rob when we went to Villa and missed Shola’s early goal because of an extra pint, but that is a different dilemma altogether, What is your advice on that one young man

    • From The Horse’s Mouth

      Unfortunately I have a couple of those to share too!!!  you are right about an extra beer usually a factor though.

      I’ll cover missing early goals in a different article another time matey, something to talk about during the long summer months ahead of us!!

  • JarraParaJustice

    Personally Roberto I’ve always advocated that anyone leaving the match early should have their Season Ticket Confiscated & then be escorted to rear of the Stand to be Shot. Their stinking carcasses should then be burnt, their rotten ashes scooped up & scattered in Grozny On the Wear as they deserve the Rot In Hell the Disloyal Weak Willed Scum Bags ! This is not me being ironic it’s just the right thing to do !