Celebrating the West Ham pitch invader that ‘bent it like Beckham’
While millions of us dreamt about being a footballer in our formative years, there can’t be too many that fantasised about being a defender.
Even Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, in their most sinful moments, spent their youth idly imagining themselves bursting past a flat-footed defender before powering a shot past a quivering goalkeeper.
Possibly receiving a celebratory kiss from Pamela Anderson afterwards too. You know how teenagers think.
Nobody dreams about perfecting the offside trap or winning your duel against the baby elephant masquerading as the opposition striker. We want adulation, glory and thousands of balding men serenading us to the tune of Freed From Desire.
For the vast majority, it remains a dream to file alongside becoming an astronaut or lion tamer. But Jordan Dunn wasn’t the type of person to relinquish his childhood fantasy.
As West Ham and Tottenham slugged it out on the opening day of the 2014-15 season, with the poverty of the match perfectly matching both club’s traditional lack of self-belief, Spurs were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position.
Christian Eriksen, already established as one of the best creative midfielders in Europe, stood over the ball as Adrian quietly soiled himself in the West Ham goal. The net got ready to bulge.
What happened next wouldn’t have looked out of place in Monty Python; Dunn slipped the security guarding the Bobby Moore Stand and indulged in what the tabloids like to call a ‘moment of madness’.
Leaving track marks in the Upton Park pitch, impressive considering his attire of jeans and Converse trainers, the Kent native left a rotund steward eating air before noticing the dead ball was lined up perfectly for him.
As the bemused players looked on, Dunn flighted his shot over the wall without breaking stride and saw it float towards the top corner. Fulfilling the role of party pooper, Adrian plucked it from the air like an apple from a low-hanging branch.
The assailant was eventually bundled away once the stewards had puffed on their inhalers, leaving Eriksen to take up Dunn’s mantle. Deliciously, his own effort flew harmlessly over the bar.
“I know it was a mistake, but it was definitely worth it,” Dunn told Kent Online two days afterwards. “My phone hasn’t stopped going off and even Gary Lineker tweeted about it. My mates think I’m a legend.
“I could be looking at a 10-year-ban and even a £5,000 fine. The ban wouldn’t bother me whatsoever but obviously the money would.
“My mum’s not too happy, but she had a little laugh about it.”
Dunn pleaded guilty at Thames magistrates court in east London to a charge under section 4 of the Football Offences Act 1991, which states that it is an offence to go on to the playing area without lawful authority or excuse.
He told police after he was arrested that he had been a West Ham fan since he was a little boy and it had always been one of his dreams to “run on the pitch and kick the ball”, the court heard.
The district judge said he had seen footage of the incident on YouTube and asked: “Were you intending to take the free kick?” Dunn replied: “No. All I was going to do was run and as I was running I just saw the ball there so I thought I would just kick it.”
Dunn would end up with a £305 fine, but somehow avoided a stadium ban.
“You had consumed alcohol and your stride pattern was a bit out of kilter, but to borrow a phrase you did bend it like Beckham,” Judge Branston said when summing up.
He added that the effort was “easily” saved by the West Ham goalkeeper, but performed a casual drive-by on Eriksen, saying: “I understand that the professional footballer who followed you did not do any better.”
Branston also said it was a “small mercy” that Dunn had “decided to remain fully clothed”. The mind boggles.
“‘You bent it like Beckham’: Judge PRAISES drunk pitch invader who took free kick. What kind of message does this send out??,” Gold wrote, adding another surreal dimension to this most West Ham of episodes.
While acknowledging the risks associated with members of public entering the pitch, Dunn’s moment of fame chimed with thousands who’d spent their childhood picturing themselves as Cup final heroes and record-breaking goalscorers.
And rumours Eriksen later contacted Dunn for some dead-ball tips remain unconfirmed. Sadly.
By Michael Lee