Ahead of today’s clash between Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City, re-live the most iconic moment from this fixture down the years, told by a teammate who had a first-hand view of Riley McGree’s freakish scorpion kick goal.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in November 2021, but has been resurfaced ahead of Newcastle Jets v Melbourne City at the scene of one of the best goals in A-Leagues history.
Moments don’t come much bigger than the one presented to a teenage Riley McGree as Newcastle Jets trailed Melbourne City 1-0 in the 2017-18 Isuzu UTE A-League Finals Series.
With a bumper home crowd in the house and a spot in the Grand Final on the line, the Jets needed a moment of magic to spark a stunning comeback.
Football fans around the globe weren’t prepared for what was to come. And neither was McGree’s Jets teammate Daniel Georgievski.
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After pouncing on a loose ball in the Jets’ forward half, Georgievski fed the ball to the feet of McGree, who then turned to invite Ronnie Vargas into the play. Georgievski bombed into the box as the play unfolded.
“I remember I saw Ronnie Vargas, not on the edge of the 18-yard box but (around) there, and I wanted him to take a touch because I was making that forward run just to you know, delay it a little bit,” Georgievski recalled.
“And then when he flicked it on to Riley, I was like: ‘What are you doing? That’s just the hopeless, small percentage pass’. I was actually kind of fuming because I was in 30 metres from goal.
“Then when I saw Riley just throw a leg at it I was like: ‘Bloody hell… you started this play and it’s gone to crap’. Then when it started looping over I was like: ‘Oh, this is actually going to go in!’.”
A multitude of emotions ran through Georgievski’s mind in that moment, as McGree began to contort his body to send a scorpion kick strike looping over goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis and into the back of City’s net on that night in 2018.
The wonder strike, which was nominated for the Puskas Goal of the Year award, goes down as one of the greatest moments of A-Leagues history.
But as McGree began the mechanics of the strike a desperate Georgievski – who had bombed from defence to intercept the initial ball, feed it to Jets teammate Vargas and sprint into the 18-yard-box – felt one emotion the strongest.
“I was pissed,” he said. “I was pissed because if we lose that ball I’ve got to run back 80 metres to try to defend.
“I hated that when you win at the front and someone does a pass like that you don’t stop and get angry you have to run back and get into your position.
“Initial thought I was pissed. And then when it went in I was happy because I didn’t have to run back.”
The words of commentator Brenton Speed (“Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!”) add to the moment’s legendary nature; it’s a goal which encapsulated the creativity and confidence of a young McGree which would eventually translate onto the national stage, where he performs today as a key member of the Socceroos squad.
But at the time the 19-year-old from Gawler, South Australia was just a young lad with a head full of dreams – and Georgievski ensured he played his part in making sure that head didn’t over-inflate as footage of his one-in-a-million strike swept the globe.
“We were like: ‘Riley, that was actually pretty good – like it was a good fluke!’” Georgievski said.
And then obviously the question (of) ‘did you mean it?’ And a few of the older boys were like ‘if you say yes we’re going to smack in the back of the head, you can’t say you meant that’.
“I do think (at training) Jason Hoffman did say ‘Riley try to replicate it’ but again the ball has to be played (perfectly). Even if you were just to drop it with your hands you still couldn’t because the speed of the ball the way it spun, the connection was different level.
“I’ve not tried it, if I tried that I probably would have pulled a quad or I think my pelvis would be in the other direction.”