John was a Crack-shot keeper
SOCCER: John Crack did not mess about when his side was awarded a penalty. He just stepped forward and walloped the spot kick into the net. In a career that saw him convert more than 100 penalties, the 54-year-old never missed.
JOHN Crack did not mess about when his side was awarded a penalty. He just stepped forward and walloped the spot kick into the net.
In a career that saw him convert more than 100 penalties, the 54-year-old never missed. He would be just the man to have around in cup-ties that go to penalty shoot-outs.
"We never had them in my day," said Crack, who lives in St David's Road, Ipswich.
"I had no set plan. I placed the ball, walked back and decided whether to go left or right, top or bottom. I struck them with either foot.
"I cannot remember one near miss. They all went into the net cleanly. My advice to nervous penalty takers is to hit the ball hard and let the keeper do the worrying.
"Of course, when I was playing, keepers were not allowed to move and they had to stand on their goal-line until I had struck the ball. It might be harder these days."
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Crack once scored a hat-trick of penalties – while playing in goal. Another feat he was adept at was scoring direct from corners.
"I must have done that seven or eight times, including two in one game," added Crack. "I was playing for Rushmere against Benhall St Mary on a wet day at the former Waterside Works ground in Rushmere. Their keeper got stuck in the mud but he had the last laugh as they beat us 10-2."
Crack was on the receiving end in the 1979/80 season, the campaign he scored his trio of spot-kicks. He recalled: "I began the season in the Rushmere first team and scored 11 goals in six games.
"But they thought I was too old so was made second XI skipper. I was no good in goal, but there was nobody else.
"Most of the team was made up of 15 or 16-year-olds and we only managed one win all season in the reserve section of the SIL. This was against Alan Road and they did everything but score.
"They kept hitting the woodwork and the ball just would not go over the line. It struck me on the head a couple of times.
"My unusual hat-trick came when we played Martlesham Athletic. They beat us 7-3 and I struck three penalties as a goalkeeper."
Crack played for Fonnereau Minors before joining Whitton United in 1961. When he was 14 he scored a hat-trick for Whitton against Leiston in the Suffolk Senior Cup.
"I was only 14 and the goals were given in the paper to one of the Hender brothers Reg or Ivan. I cannot remember which. Reg had just left to join the professional ranks at Bolton Wanderers after their
manager Bill Ridding came down to Suffolk to watch Whitton play.
"I was told that he was interested in signing me and like Reg I played as a winger in those days. But I was injured with a knee problem and was out of the game for a while. My chance never came again."
Ipswich Lads Club, Woodbridge Town, Melton United and Grundisburgh are other Saturday clubs Crack played for, while on Sundays he turned out for Trimley Athletic, Carter Haulage and Tolly Cobbold. In 1977 he joined Rushmere where he stayed for three seasons, ending his career with Fonnereau.
"My final match was for Fonnereau at Washbrook and although we lost 2-1 I scored a goal," added Crack, whose father George is a former Boston and Whitton player.
"Former Whitton supremo Bob Field brought my father from Lincolnshire to Ipswich to play football for Whitton. And I am still here."
And another thing. Crack was never booked or sent off. Certainly a man who enjoyed a remarkable