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South Yarmouth goalkeeper Skip Garnham scores first-ever goal at 50

PUBLISHED: 19:01 01 February 2012

Skip Garnham of South Yarmouth, who scored his first goal in 34 years with a penalty against Martham A.

Skip Garnham of South Yarmouth, who scored his first goal in 34 years with a penalty against Martham A.

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A goalkeeping "grandaddy of them all" suddenly has a new entry on his lengthy footballing CV after scoring his first-ever goal in a marathon career spanning 34 years and well over a thousand games.

Skip Garnham thought his chance of ever finding the back of the net had passed him by at the age of 50 – but when he was given an opportunity to take a penalty he grabbed it with both hands.

And this week he was still basking in the afterglow of his spot-kick success which came in the South Yarmouth team’s 19-1 win at Martham A.

“I was absolutely over the moon. It’s the only goal I have ever scored. I vaguely remember taking a penalty before, possibly in the 1990s, but it hit the bar,” he recalled.

“I just looked at the keeper and said to myself I would put it to his right – he went left and that was it. It was a wonderful feeling.”

Skip, who is the experienced old head in the youthful South Yarmouth side he joined four years ago, said: “They are a great bunch of lads. I am the grandaddy of them all. We have got a lot of respect for each other.”

He has no plans to hang up his gloves or his newly-found shooting boots just yet. “It keeps me fit and supple. I have set myself 55 and then I’ll review it, but I saw someone on the news the other day who was 73, playing four games a week, and he was playing up front, so who knows?”

Thought to be the longest-serving player in the area, the Gorleston-based father of seven’s real name is Chris. He acquired his nickname when he returned to the area after spending three years in Australia when his family emigrated. His team-mates soon began calling him after a certain Antipodean bush kangaroo and the name stuck.

He believes his time Down Under spent playing Aussie Rules football helped him, particularly when it comes to dealing with crosses.

“I have probably won about 60-odd trophies over the years. I just go out there, do my job and try the best I can. If I make a mistake I hold my hands up – it’s all I can do really.” Since 1977 Skip has turned out for numerous Saturday and Sunday teams in the area before joining the Pub on the Shrubs Yarmouth and District League Division Two high-flyers. His former teams include Shrublands, CS United, Cobholm, THOSA, MK United, Belton King’s Head, St Peters Rangers, Tramway and Hemsby Social Club.

Lee Sweeney, who has been managing many of the South Yarmouth team’s players since they were boys at Under 8 and Under 9 level, said: “Skip has come in and really helped the youngsters along.

“I would argue he is the best keeper there has ever been in the Borough League by a mile. He is an absolute legend. Every one in the league knows him. He is such a lovely fella. “

He added: “I didn’t realise he hadn’t scored before, so we said he could take a penalty. For someone who hasn’t scored in 34 years, he looked very calm and collected when he stepped up and he put it away nicely. He has got to keep going now – we’ll see if we can get him on a bit of a roll.”

Skip wasn’t the only South Yarmouth player taking a bow after the recent 19-1 win over Martham, for young striker Matty Wallis netted 11 times. Matty, who also scored 10 goals in a game against Filby, took his tally to 60 for the season in a 1-1 draw with Caister Roma at the weekend.

“He is a real talent. He has been with me since he was eight,” said Sweeney.

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