When I was a kid we always used to put the fattest kid in goal, reasoning although he might be shit at football, proportionally his bulk meant that it would be harder for our opponents to find the net. Well that was the thinking, but after Gaywood Park put 18 and Hunstanton 24 past us during the winter of 1969, that theory quickly evaporated.
To be fair our defence on both occasions, all 11 of us, had a fucking mare!!
Whichever way you want to play it though, being a goal-keeper at any level, is the pits.
Let me explain.
In junior football whether you are a goalie playing for a good or bad team, the consequences of your endeavours were exactly the same, you freeze your nuts off…and get blamed for everything (well our goalie did). So, standing between the posts on a Saturday morning while representing St Georges Secondary Modern School in North Norfolk, meant you either had a dietary issue or were just plain stupid…or both.
Geographically St George’s (which happens to be on the Queen’s Sandringham estate) was known by the locals as the top school. Why? Well it was at the top of Dodd’s Hill from where on a clear day, ‘some’ said, you could see the north-pole. O.K. you couldn’t take literally what ‘some’ said because whilst you didn’t have to be mad to live in the village, on a winter’s morning with the winds whistling down from the north, it bloody well helped. The truth is that the school field was well above sea level and besides a small corner of Lincolnshire, there is nothing between our field and the home of Father Christmas, but cold water…the north and arctic seas!
As a goal scoring machine, I was always selected, thank god, to play up front, but as the scores against Gaywood and Hunstanton suggest, I did little to ease the pressure on our defence, but that didn’t stop me from lambasting beefy Benson for not driving at the opposition centre forward’s feet, during a one to one, just prior to Hunstanton’s 14 goal going in. If I remember rightly Beefy told me to fuck off and to be fair, with the snow; actually a blizzard, obscuring his vision and with the freezing cold wind reducing his nuts to the size of a pea, on reflection, I could hardly blame him…
Taking it a step further I would argue that being a professional goal-keeper has to be the toughest role on a football pitch and that is why I wouldn’t stand between those white posts, for all the tea in China…I mean I like tea but where the hell would I store it?? Good point hey?
Look think about it.
In your general working lives how many times have you made errors? “Never!” “Bollocks!” “O.K. lots of times.” “Thank you.”
Well so have I as whilst none, that I can think of, were life threatening, it was actually pretty easy to cover up each digression before they had serious consequences to self…e.g. the management finding out and SACKING me!! However following last week’s Championship league final I was left pondering how different things would have been if I had played out each mistake in front of 70,000 spectators and a TV audience of a few zillion…um… tough hey!
For those who didn’t watch the Liverpool v Real Madrid match, the two most significant and match changing moments, if you ignore Gareth Bale’s amazing scissor kick goal, were mistakes made by Loris Karius, the Liverpool’s goal-keeper. Now I don’t know anything about Loris but I wager, like Beefy Benson, this guy spent many extremely unpleasant hours, during his formative life, developing his skills, while the weather and opposition players, tried to wreak havoc on various body parts. But unlike Beefy, who because a farm-worker, Loris was encouraged by his grandfather to pursue a professional career; the pinnacle of which for this 24 year old, would undoubtedly have been this final…where if you are going to have a mare this final was not the place to have it…TWICE!!
O.K. I do get that many football supporters will have little sympathy for someone who earns a ‘king’s ransom’ for keeping goal, but I also can understand just how tough it will be for this young man to work through these blunders…especially as his abilities will now be under the spotlight with every minor error being scrutinised to a ridiculous level. Don’t members of the press ever screw up??
By default humans will always make mistakes although luckily very few of us will ever do so in front of an audience, yet alone a MASSIVE audience.
In a few weeks time the 2018 World will have finished (hooray I hear some of you cry!!) and I suspect vital games will have been lost due to an error by the number 1. Entire populations of countries around the world will be in mourning and lynch mobs will be waiting, not however to cause damage to a group of inept highly paid ‘forwards’ who failed to hit ‘a cow’s arse with a banjo’, once the pressure got to them.
Oh no, it will be the poor beleaguered goalie, how having pulled off a whole host of amazing saves somehow managed to throw the ball into his own net just as the referee was about to blow the full time whistle.
Now that is what I call stress and is one of the primary reasons why I never venture past the halfway line into our half.
I might be thick but I ain’t stupid.