This Week in Football History: Jimmy Glass - Carlisle saviour and football's greatest one-hit wonder.

Brunton Park, home of Carlisle United
Brunton Park, home of Carlisle United

Today, Adrian North looks back on his favourite moment of all time - the remarkable final day of Carlisle United's 1998/99 season...

"Carlisle needed a hero, and standing 100 yards away at the other end of the pitch was their on-loan goalkeeper Jimmy Glass, an emergency signing by manager Nigel Pearson for the last three weeks of the season following an injury to his regular keeper."

May 8, 1999 - Carlisle United 2-1 Plymouth Argyle, Brunton Park.

The last minute goal has always been football's greatest joy. Solskjaer, Aguero, Gerrard, Bergkamp, Thomas, Deeney - names synonymous with football's most dramatic moments. And there are few walks of life where the two poles of emotion are quite so apparent as in the seconds following a last minute goal.

The best last minute goal of all time however occurred on May 8, 1999, at the very bottom of the English Football League.

Relegation battles are almost always more exciting than title races. That joy of surviving relegation on the final day is perhaps the greatest of all footballing emotions, a joy that surpasses the celebrations of most title winning sides, while the despair is horrific, and largely unfathomable to many fans, myself included, who have never experienced the relegation of their club.

Of course, the worst relegation of the lot is from the fourth tier of English football into the Conference. It's the difference between being a pro and a semi-pro, and between being talked about on the back pages of your local rag and being discussed by Manish Bhasin and Steve Claridge every week.

They say everyone wants to play in the Premier League, but the truth is, for most footballers trying to earn a living, the dream is to simply play in the Football League.

Back in May 1999, that dream was seemingly coming to an end for Carlisle United. After 71 years in the Football League, Carlisle found themselves at the bottom of the pile on 46 points on the final day of the 98/99 season, while Scarborough sat one place above on 47 points. The equation for Carlisle, who faced Plymouth Argyle on the final day was simple enough - get a better result than Scarborough.

Some 8,000 fans gathered at Carlisle's stadium, Brunton Park, in hope of a miracle, while over on the east coast around 6,000 Scarborough fans welcomed Peterborough at the McCain Stadium.

Come 4:50pm the scores in both games remained level at 1-1. The referee then blew his whistle at the McCain stadium and Scarborough's fans, assuming their 1-1 draw with Peterborough was good enough for survival, invaded the pitch in elation.

Carlisle were hanging on by a thread. Not only was their status in the Football League at stake, their status as a football club in general also hung in the balance. Carlisle's owner at the time, a businessman named Michael Knighton, had run the club onto the brink of administration by 1999, despite a very prosperous few years in his early days as chairman during the early 90s.

Relegation from the Football League, and the subsequent lack of sponsorship money that would have come with it, may well have seen Knighton forced into declaring bankruptcy later that year, and as the final whistle went over in Scarborough, the fourth official in Carlisle held up a bright blue sign with the number 4 on it. Four minutes to save 95 years of history, and just as the four minutes expired the Cumbrians won a corner.

Carlisle needed a hero, and standing 100 yards away at the other end of the pitch was their on-loan goalkeeper Jimmy Glass, an emergency signing by manager Nigel Pearson for the last three weeks of the season following an injury to his regular keeper.

What happened next is as far as I'm concerned the greatest moment in human history.

Charging up for the corner Glass made his way into the penalty area and, barely even breaking stride, reacted quickest to the rebounding ball and smashed it into the back of the net.

Cue the quickest pitch invasion ever seen. Glass was immediately mobbed by his ten teammates and then a few thousand fans, while a particularly enthusiastic fan leapt on top of the referee. Not since Ronnie Radford has there been a pitch invasion of such delight and ecstasy, nor has there been since.

Suddenly, this unheard of goalkeeper was the saint of Carlisle, the man who had saved their football club from liquidation, and has since come to be affectionately known in the northwest as Sir James of Glass. Meanwhile, one can imagine the scenes of despair taking place in Scarborough (upon hearing that the keeper had scored, some of their fans thought it was a hoax at first).

Glass never played for Carlisle again, moving around several non-league clubs (as well as a short spell as a reserve at Spurs) before quitting football in 2001. He became an IT salesman and now lives in Dorset with his wife and twins, running a taxi service in the town of Wimborne Minster.

A few years ago ITV tracked Jimmy down for their Top 20 Goals that Shook the World programme, where Glass came in at number 15, and in an interview with Gabriel Clarke, Glass fondly remembered the moment.

"I'm always going to be remembered as Jimmy Glass, the goalie that scored that goal," he exclaimed, to which Clarke simply asked "And do you like the idea of that?"

"Yeah, of course I do."

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