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Chris Morgan: It might be called Morgan Day but it really wasn't all about me

 

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Chris Morgan celebrates that famous winner.

Chris Morgan celebrates that famous winner.

Morgan scored twice to beat Portadown in the 2002 Irish Cup final.

Morgan scored twice to beat Portadown in the 2002 Irish Cup final.

Chris Morgan celebrates that famous winner.

April 23, 2005 stands out as one of the most memorable dates in Irish League history, dubbed 'Morgan Day' after a famous goal by Glentoran striker Chris Morgan.

The gifted goalgetter had previously been a star with Linfield before making the trek across town to sign for the Glens.

The Big Two were neck and neck in another thrilling dogfight for the Gibson Cup when they met in east Belfast in the penultimate game of the season.

The Blues held a slender one point lead going into the clash, but a last-gasp finish from the Saintfield man put Glentoran in the box seat and the title was wrapped up against Crusaders the following week.

Crowd trouble marred the day as hundreds of fans from either side invaded the pitch before the police were called to quell the volatile situation.

"The trouble possibly made it more memorable for a lot of people," recalls Morgan. "And the fact that it was a former Linfield player who scored the winning goal.

"I was never particularly comfortable with the moniker 'Morgan Day'. Uncomfortable might be too strong but it implies that the game was all about me, but it wasn't.

"Pat McGibbon was superb on the day and everyone put a shift in - you had to against Linfield, there was no room for passengers.

"I remember the massive crowd on the day when I was warming up and I liked it. You only get a game like that once in your career, with so much riding on it. It was a huge game.

"Davy Larmour equalised late on for Linfield and I recall taking the restart with Michael Halliday thinking 'that's it, we're done', and I was deflated.

"Michael had a chance cleared off the line by Winkie Murphy and I definitely thought our opportunity had passed, but I was lucky enough to get the winner.

"Alan Mannus got a hand to Michael's header, it came out to me quickly but I managed to poke it home.

"Scoring two goals in the 2002 Irish Cup Final for Linfield is up there as one of my best days on a personal note, but Morgan Day shades it because everyone remembers it."

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Morgan scored twice to beat Portadown in the 2002 Irish Cup final.

Morgan scored twice to beat Portadown in the 2002 Irish Cup final.

Morgan scored twice to beat Portadown in the 2002 Irish Cup final.

 

Linfield skipper Noel Bailie certainly does.

"The result was bad, but the riot afterwards made it worse," he reflects.

"I tried to speak to the supporters, to tell them 'it's not worth it', but it was no use.

"It was falling on deaf ears. When I looked back at the TV pictures and saw myself amongst hundreds of fans on the pitch, I thought 'you're an eejit'.

"I should have shaken hands with the Glentoran players and got off the pitch immediately after the game, not tried to hold peace talks with hundreds of supporters. It was a disaster.

"It was a great day for Chris and good luck to him, he's a great guy. We've had plenty of banter about it over the years since.

"It was a good finish but I always regret not picking Chris up inside the box in those final seconds."

Belfast Telegraph