Sunday, 6 November 2011

My Favourite Blue - Magno Silva Vieira

Cue the whimsy-o-meter. The latest in our regular series is from Mark Nicholson and it is a BEAUTY Jeff...

The streets of Brasília are almost certain to be littered with young, raw, Brazilian footballing talent. Although not the stereotypical poverty ridden metropolis that has shaped the careers of countless Brazilian World Cup winners over the last 30 years, Brazil’s 4th largest city has been the birth place of its own fair share of all-conquering South American superstar.

Most notably, Real Madrid’s Kaká hails from Brasília, but more importantly for Carlisle United (although admittedly not quite in the same league), so does Magno Silva Vieira. A product of the Jairzinho football academy (which boasts Ronaldo, the fat one that is, as one of it former students) Vieira moved to Wigan as an 18-year old but was to leave before making a first team appearance.

Wigan’s meteoric rise up the football pyramid proved to be too fast for Vieira, and a brief loan spell at Northampton before joining The Cumbrians was his only taste of first team action in the lower English leagues. Saturday afternoons away at Forest Green Rovers are hardly where you would expect to find a boy from Brazil plying his trade.

Still a complete unknown when signed from Wigan Athletic during our Conference season there were many reasons which still stick in my memory for Carlisle United fans to remember the little Brazilian, although not all of them for the right reasons.

Vieira initially joined Carlisle United on a month’s loan, a move which at the time was financed by the late Brooks Mileson, and marked his debut with a goal as a substitute in a 3-0 win at Forest Green Rovers. A 7-0 thrashing of Farnborough at Brunton Park was to follow, and although Vieira didn’t quite grab the headlines from Karl Hawley (hat-trick) and Andy Preece (2), he did bag another goal. A good start to his United career.

By the time his loan spell came to an end, Carlisle had a return of 10 goals in 35 appearances from Vieira, but it was the manner of some of the goals, or the goal that never was, which made him stick in my memory.

Possibly the finest point of Vieira’s Carlisle stint was a second half hat-trick away at Aldershot, where three fine second half goals completed yet another high scoring rout for The Blues in their Conference season. A hat-trick and the resulting claim on the match ball should be a moment to savor for any player, more so as this happened to be his first at senior level.

While the goals didn’t quite flow as freely as those of his strike partner Hawley, every contribution Vieira made in the goal scoring charts seemed to be an important one. An extra time header in a FA Cup first round replay against Bristol Rovers (League opposition at the time), sent Carlisle through in dramatic fashion and provided a much needed pay day for the club.

The goal which vividly sticks in my memory to this day was a tap in. Perhaps tap in is a little harsh, as it was outside the box and really credited down to the quick thinking of Glenn Murray. It’s a goal plucked right from a ‘Goals and Gaffs’ DVD, one that will never get old. It was indeed this one.

89 minutes into a dour 0 – 0 game with Halifax Town at Brunton Park, Halifax ‘keeper Ian Dunbavin had a kick out at Glenn Murray after Murray had chased the ball down right into his arms. The referee gave nothing and waved play on. Dunbavin (one can only imagine) though the referee was waving him over for a word, but in fact he had not stopped play. Wandering out of his area ball in hand, Murray quickly realised the visiting ‘keepers mistake. Hand ball! Within seconds the ball was rolled to Vieira and it was 1 – 0 Carlisle. Cue goose bumps.

A quiet (well, as quiet as the most dramatic penalty shoot out win in the history of the world) end to Carlisle’s season culminated in their most important game in recent history; a Conference play off final at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium against Stevenage Borough. A first time return to the Football League would be massive for the club. If they failed the chance of financial meltdown and years in the wilderness of Non-League was a distinct possibility.

A first half Peter Murphy header had The Blues in front at half time. As the second half wore on the already nervy game became more so. Stevenage pressed and pressed. It was true kitchen sink stuff. Carlisle got absolutely battered.

Deep into injury time ‘Boro ‘keeper Alan Julian headed up for a corner which was yet again defended valiantly by United but this time it broke Carlisle’s way. Vieira, on a second half substitute, ran up the field, defenders in tow with only an open goal to aim at. 2 – 0 would surely win it for United. SHHHHOOOOOOTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!! Head down he kept running, unaware (we found out after the event) that the goalkeeper was no where to be seen. Eventually Vieira was fouled by a defender and the resulting free kick was hit hard and high into the stand to bring the game to an end and seal United’s return to the Football League at the first time of asking.

However you look at it, Vieira is firmly stamped into Carlisle United history during a time there were many talking points both on and off the field. A return to Carlisle when he was released by Wigan at the end of that season was all but guaranteed, but ‘Passport Issues’ prevented it.

A move to Barnet did eventually materialise and at 26 years old with 67 goals in 204 League and Non-League appearances for a host of clubs, Vieira certainly hasn’t forgotten where the goal is.

Although his spell at Carlisle was a short one, it was during a good season for the club and a time where things started to look up. I have no reservations in saying that without his contribution Carlisle United Football Club would certainly not be in the position it is now.

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