“It was a bit of crazy one. You won’t see this often.”
So says Grays Athletic player-manager Jamie Stuart, who had to play his right-back in goal for an hour during Saturday’s match against Maldon & Tiptree because of a bizarre mix-up when submitting the teamsheet.
When goalkeeper Charlie Burns was forced off with a leg injury in the 30th minute of the Bostik North Division game – the eighth tier of English football – with the score at 0-0, reserve keeper Joe Simmonds readied himself to take the field.
However, unbeknown to him and his manager, Simmonds had not been included on the teamsheet – Stuart had.
Stuart explained to BBC Radio Essex: “My reserve goalkeeper, who was on the bench, his initials are JS.
“So my man that does our teamsheet thought I’d put myself on the bench. It was just a misunderstanding.
“Joe Simmonds has been on the bench for the last few games to cover the keeper role, but obviously there’s been a mistake.”
Having not been recorded on the teamsheet before kick-off, Simmonds was ineligible to play, meaning defender Ryan Mahal took the gloves instead.
Malden soon took advantage of the change, racing into a 2-0 lead by the 51st minute, before Mahal pulled off a crucial one-on-one save to prevent a third.
Grays rallied in the second half and captain Stan Muguo brought it back to 2-1 before debutant Tommy Wade grabbed a late equaliser on a memorable afternoon in Essex.
After a happy ending to the unusual story, Stuart was full of praise for his stand-in keeper.
“Ryan stepped up,” he said. “He’s been in goal before and I thought he did very well.”
As well as Mahal played, Stuart will be particularly careful when filling in his teamsheet for Grays’ next match.