The Thundercliffe Files: trebles all round

Cod Almighty | Article

by Paul Thundercliffe

14 February 2020

Hat-tricks have been rare in the League. All the more reason to celebrate them

Thundercliffe FilesCharles Vernam's treble this week was just the third scored by a Town player since they returned to the League four and a half seasons ago. Three hat-tricks in 169 games; Liam Hearn managed three by himself in just one season.

Much has been made of Charlie's prowess on Tuesday, particularly the third - a majestic slalom from box to box - but for me the first goal was the best. That Town can spin 16 passes together involving 10 players after the drivel we've seen for much of the past year is simply unbelievable. Pass, move, touch, pass and move. Even Waterfall, with a little nudge pass, was adept and unwavering in the high tempo quickstep. Vernam’s unerring finish, arrowing off that sweet, sweet move was delicious.

The good times are back.

Vernam’s hat-trick was rightly lauded as one of the best in a Town shirt, the sheer confidence of the three goals obliterating Colchester. Our first since coming out of the Conference, from Omar Bogle was a tasty trio: trickery, guile and a sweet free-kick; Omar was unplayable that day.

Apart from the non-League years (Three each for Hearn and Padraig Amond, one from Peter Bore), hat-tricks have been rare. Those that were there rave about Drinkell sinking Sheff Utd with three goals to clinch the title in 1980. But my first memory of a three-goal salvo was Garry Birtles.

Town had sealed promotion the mid-week before Wrexham came to Cleethorpes and were destroyed by a burgeoning Buckley side. Birtles had made a real difference that season, and he rolled back the years in fine style, my favourite being a strike that he sort of rolled up and volleyed into the bottom corner.

The next season, Town were rampant with goals shared around the team. The nearest we got to a hat-trick was a home game against Reading. John Cockerill had already scored two first half goals - one direct from a corner - and before half time had won a penalty. Despite his undoubted prowess from the spot, Buckley told Dave Gilbert to take it and the treble chance was gone.

Clive Mendonca is next up, a sublime and classic treble in an opening day draw against Bolton. Super Clive poached, twisted and blasted his way to three goals and you felt that that 1994 match was the start of something special. Injury cruelly robbed us of more memorable moments, but after one lengthy lay-off, Clive returned to smash three against Ipswich in typical predatory fashion.

Paul Groves was another who notched a couple of match balls against Notts County and Luton in a prodigious first spell at Town. He was then manager when Town scored two hat-tricks in the same game: Mick Boulding and Alan Pouton in a 6-2 win over Wimbledon. Alan’s probably doesn't count as it includes two penalties.

Other notable triplets include Phil Jevons hitting four against Barnsley and Adam Proudlock shocking the Imps in his one good game.

Some amazing feats of goalscoring in Town’s history and hopefully more still to come. What’s clear is, that like Clive and Garry and Grovesie and Omar, Charles will live long in the memory.

Your favourite hat-trick?