Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Echo Beach - Brazil

I know it's out of fashion, and a trifle uncool.
But I can't help it, I'm a romantic fool.

From nine till five I have to spend my time at work.
From nine till five I watch football on Youtube.
My job is very boring, I'm an office clerk.
It's very boring, all I see is box goalnets.
The only thing that helps me pass the time away.
Is knowing I'll be back at Echo Beach some day.
Is knowing there must be a blue-blooded member of the football Royal family who haven't installed box goalnets across the board.


Echo Beach, far away in time...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Classic Continental D's

Continental D's were so-named because the 'triangle' was deemed to form a D with the posts and bar, and because in the 1970's countries in mid and eastern Europe - the Continent - made an art form out of this design of goal.

Yugoslavia 1976

The Euro 1976 tournament was so influential in goalnet design, that Subbuteo named their sleek new goals Tournament Goals. And while Panenka's penalty has ensured the immortality of these goals in Belgrade -

the goals in Zagreb are less known (though they're similar to those at Sheffield Wednesday)

Austria 1979

Hungary 1981 (same game as Trevor Brooking's goal)

By the 1980's there were a couple of notable examples in the UK;

Aston Villa 1981

Villa Park was one of those grounds that was instantly recognisable from its goalnets.

Wrexham 1982

Great goal, great nets

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Watford FC

You'll remember Watford from the 1980's; the Cup Final; Elton John; and a Glenda special into the Continental D's at Vicarage Road.

But look a decade further back, you see Watford had Wembley look-alikes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Little Ones

If you do a post called Big Ones, it's only be a matter of time before you do a post called Little Ones, isn't it? As before, since the height and width of the goal is fixed, the X-factor in little-ness is the (lack of) depth of the nets; the distance they're extended behind the goal-line.

If the Big Ones post proposed that the impact of ball on the big nets, and the aftershock on ball and net is what makes for a memorable goal, what about Little Ones?

Stadio Olimpico, Rome - 1980

The first goal of the 1980 European Championships. Or is it a goal in training?

San Siro, Milan - 2010

San Siro is famous for being designed like an "English stadium,' and, though the stands did hug the touchline, the Milan clubs were never as shorn of space behind the goals as, say, QPR, West Ham and Southampton (all notorious Little Ones), so should manage bigger, more dramatic nets than those currently hanging at San Siro.

Maicon's goal qualified Inter for their first European Cup final in nearly forty years, but it had all the aesthetics of kicking the ball against a fence in the parking lot.

Stamford Bridge - 2005

Of all the dark arts Jose Mourinho brought to Chelsea, the tight, almost invisible black nets were among the most sinister.

After watching Ronaldinho's genius trundle past him, Petr Cech really should have been made to pick the ball out of the net, not have it rebound back to him.

Can a definitive lack of net kill the drama in even the most dramatic of goals?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Conference - Cambridge Utd

In 'Fever Pitch,' Nick Hornby writes that, in the late-70's, Cambridge had "a tiny ramshackle little ground, the Abbey Stadium. Their equivalent of (Arsenal's) Clock End was the Allotments End and occasionally, naughty visiting fans would nip round the back and hurl pensioners cabbages over the wall."

He could also have written their goalnets were hung on these Latin American L-supports.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Feyenoord #2

You can't post Feyenoord's goalnets without showing these curvy beauties from the 1970's.

The distortion of perspective in this clip, or one very similar, shown on On the Ball in the mid-70's convinced these writers (then 6 or 7) that 'Continental' goals were square, and not rectangular, like at home.

Might this explain our rusted-on belief that goalnets everywhere can be different?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Two clips from Rotterdam in the 1980's illustrate perfectly what this blog's all about.

Chasing a Feyenoord thread through Youtube, we discovered the favoured on-field architecture of the early 90's were Latin American L-supports:

We followed the thread all the way back to a Holland v Belgium game in 1985. We didn't know where the game was played, and there's nothing about the venue in the description. But as soon as you see the goalnets, you know the game's being played in Rotterdam.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Goalnets and Ball Retention #5 - Two 'passes'

While Nicolas Anelka's 'pass' past the Spartak Moscow keeper nestles nicely in the corner of the net -

the trampolines at the Nou Camp are now sprung so tight that even a simple 'pass' into the corner, like Iniesta's last weekend, is rebounding back out again.

Which do you prefer?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Grand Designs

When I started this blog, I began by writing about what a stadium's goalnets said about the character of that stadium or its home club (eg Arsenal) or what part the goalnets played in the club's history (eg Manchester United). I also ran a series on the World Cups, demonstrating how the evolution of goalnet fashion and technology has been every bit as interesting as tactics, or rules (or strips).

More recently I've simply celebrated great goalnets, by which I hope to remind readers that goal design doesn't happen by accident. Somebody somewhere - either within the club or, if the posts, stanchions and nets are bought 'off the shelf,' at the manufacturers - designed the architecture. Did a drawing. Turned the drawing into reality. Ensured reality entered history.

Such great designs didn't just follow what went before, nor were they obviously fashionable at the time. But in the second decade of the new century, when everybody's got box goalnets and everything looks the same, I'd like readers to remember that football can look different to how it looks today, and difference can be beauty in itself.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Square-o's: Tottenham Hotspur

Who's squarer than Glenda, and the old goalnets at White Hart Lane?

Square-o's: Sunderland AFC

The goalnets at the Stadium of Light might be big and boxy -

but those at the old Roker Park were even boxier

Square-o's: Notts County

The Magpies are back in League 1, and they've got the same box-goalnets as everyone else.

But at Meadow Lane, through the 80's and 90's, they had in place these wonderful hybrids with the squarest of stanchions.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Goalnets, Ball Retention and the Aesthetic of Scoring Goals - Two Penalties

Two famous, decisive, near-identical penalties, 34 years apart.

One penalty is retained by the goalnets, while the other is repelled.

Is the Abreu penalty, which rebounds out before the goalkeeper has even got back to his feet, somehow lacking in the aesthetic of the decisive?

Does Panenka's kick, which floats past Sepp Maier and stays past Sepp Maier, better serve the occasion?

Which do you prefer?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Championship - Scunthorpe Utd

A friend messaged to advise us to look at some of the goalnets in the Championship. There, free from the fascism of the free-hanging boxnet, we were assured we could find some diamonds of diversity.

And it's true. Spy the shape of the Continental D's The Iron have installed at Glanford Park -

Goalnets and Aesthetics #4 - Two free kicks

Compare Koeman's dink into the stanchions versus England -

with Juan Roman Riquelme's chip-shot versus Bolivia, where the goalnets at Monumental are stretched so taut, JRR might've been shooting into goals painted on a wall.

Which do you prefer?

Goalnets and Ball Retention #4 - Two rockets!

The goalnets at the modern-day Stamford Bridge have some of the poorest ball-retaining properties in football. Boxes made of trampoline, stretched taut by a bottom net support which runs a mere metre behind the goal line, make for goals with poor aesthetics and even worse ball retention. Consider these examples:

Johnny Metgod's rocket hits the bar and goes in

While Alex's rocket goes in - but rebounds out like it's hit the bar

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Championship - Leeds Utd

Over the years, Leeds have changed the on-field architecture about as often as they've changed managers.

Under Don Revie, from the 60's -

through to the early 70's, when they installed Continental D's (and from 3.00, extracted the urine) -

Revie went and Cloughie came and went - and the Continental D's went with him;

Leeds were relegated with Alan Clarke, came back with Howard Wilkinson, and won the first Division, all with Continental D's -

They continued with George Graham through the mid-90's, with only a slight alteration to the D;

Then came Dr Faustus dressed as David O'Leary, to whom the Devil offered a deal. You can live the dream -

But you'll need to install box goalnets...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Castles in Spain

Do you remember the original premise of this blog? Goalnets were once so diverse and different from ground to ground, that you could catch a glimpse of a game on TV and know instantly where the game was being played - because of the goalnets.

As such, you could turn on your telly in the 70's and know these curvy, Latin stanchions are Real Madrid

And these unconventional, Northern stanchions are Barcelona

Bolton Wanderers

You wouldn't go to Bolton to find innovation in on-field architecture.

As much as the clean blue and white lines at the Reebok this season look like geometrically correct prototypes for boxnets in Season 10/11 -

 So the same or similar, stanchions of yesteryear could be found at Old Trafford or Elland Road.

But NOWHERE ELSE would you see a goal like Frank Worthington's!

Greenock Morton FC

In the late 70's, Greenock Morton were a force to be reckoned with in the Scottish Premier League. With Andy Ritchie - the original idle idol - they were briefly table-toppers, late in 1978.

The glamour's all there in this clip - the South American bendy free-kick; the World Cup adidas Tango football; the Scottish goalkeeper, Alan Rough, wearing what looks like an International shirt he swapped for at the end of a Scotland game (and getting beaten by a free-kick at the same post, just like Peru's 3rd goal at the World Cup, and 'reacting' just like Peru's 2nd goal!)

Only the sad, creaking stanchions suggest where Morton came from, and to where they'd soon return.

Oxford Utd

Freed from the shackles of their old Manor Ground - where admittedly they had fantastic square stanchions, (then rather ordinary Continental D's ) - at Kassam Stadium in season 09/10, Oxford installed a masterclass set of Continental D's;

Might they remind you of a couple of Scotland games at the World Cup? First, versus Holland in Mendoza, Argentina

And versus Brazil in Seville, Spain

(they're not Continental D supports, but they look just as marvellous)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blackpool FC

Back in the big time, Blackpool's nets are big, brash and colourful.

Back in the 1970's, Blackpool were in the old Division 2 and the nets hung on these, extra-kinky stanchions (similar to the old Stamford Bridge.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Southampton FC

At The Dell, Southampton used to have the littlest of Little Ones.

Little Ones may not be your cup of tea, but you could look at this goal and know immediately it was Southampton.

Now at St Mary's, the goalnets are boxes made of trampoline like everybody else's.

But spy the fancy red and white tubing, and the obvious decision to let the nets hang loose, and, in their own way, the St Mary's nets might be thought as distinctive as the old ones at The Dell. A goal scored into them is certainly more aesthetically pleasing.

Bristol Rovers

Trawling youtube for examples of Little Ones, I came across these amazing Wembley lookalikes at Bristol Rovers, circa 1974.

After Euro '76, they cleared the snow off the lines and traded the full stanchions for a pair of Continental 'D's.

The goalnets at Memorial Stadium in 2010 may be boxes, but they aren't made of trampoline.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Big Ones

A friend of ours on Facebook messaged us to say he liked big nets. (He also likes these peculiarities at Ipswich Town circa 1995, but that's for another post.) In goalnets, since the height and width of the goal is fixed, the X-factor in big-ness is the depth of the nets; how far they're extended behind the goal-line. We thought we'd compile a by-no-means-exhaustive top-5 of big nets.

#5 - Mexico '86

If you were to consider that the impact of ball on net, and the aftershock on ball and net, is what makes for a truly memorable goal, you easily reach the conclusion that the recent World Cup was so drab because the goalnets were made of trampoline and the theatre of ball hitting net was akin to kicking a ball against a brick wall. Not so, Mexico '86...

#4 - New Wembley

Where the old goalnets were classic and sublime, these are ridiculous and crass and seem to scream, "Look where the billion pounds went."

#3 - FC Porto

You got a big stadium? Get yourself some big nets.

#2 - Old Hampden

The Godzilla of goalnets.

#1 - Barcelona, late 80's

Long before tiki-taka, Barcelona's claim to fame was having the world's biggest goalnets.

Which are your favourite Big Ones?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

World Cup 2010 - such a shame

South Africa beat Colombia at Soccer City and we got first look at what the World Cup goalnets will look like -

World Cups used to be about innovation, in tactics, strips and goalnets. Even the free-hanging boxnet was an innovation in its day. But that was 36 years ago. One can only mourn South Africa's spurning the opportunity to set a new trend in on-field architecture, such a shame.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Goalnets and Aesthetics #3 - Two penalties

Both are taken in the same stadium - at the same end of that stadium - though you wouldn't know that to look at the videos.

Both go low to the goalkeeper's right but the lighting, the grass, the ball, the goalkeeper's dive, the goalposts and the goalnets themselves are all different.

Everything's different. In the 13 years separating these two penatlies, everything had changed.

But in the simple aesthetic of the ball hitting the net, the two penalties are the same.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Goalnets and Aesthetics #2 - Two headers

Reviewing the Champions League R16, Wayne Rooney's second header against Milan at San Siro struck a chord.

It brought to mind Kevin Keegan's header against Denmark in 1978.

To any Spot the Difference afficiando these goals will look very different.

But to this mind's eye, the way the ball hits the net makes both these goals the same.

Goalnets and Aesthetics

Should anyone doubt that standard box-nets are producing standard goal scoring aesthetics, they need only watch Trevor Brooking's goal from 1981.

Did anyone see this goal and ever forget it?

When did you ever see a 21st century box-net cause such drama?

"Look at the ball, caught up in the corner there!"

When was the last time you heard a commentator eulogise the ball in the net?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Goalnets and ball retention #4

Anyone who might think goalnets are a random afterthought in football should peel their eyes away from Lionel Messi for a moment and take a peek at the goalnets at La Romareda.

Stuck with the free-hanging design, the Zaragoza groundsman has constructed a support system which cleverly alters the square box shape of the net into a more traditional sloping A-shape. This shape helped retain the ball at the goal.

Clearly the Zaragoza groundsman has put as much work into his craft as Lionel Messi has.

Goalnets and ball retention #3

A previously discussed, the square shape of the box-net is unhelpful in retaining the ball once a goal has been scored.

Another factor to consider in ball retention is the modern bottom net support.

Nets used to be pegged into the ground. When a ball hit the net, the net would pull on the peg. In even the tautest of nets, there would be a little 'give' in the net, helping the net retain the ball.

However the bottom net support - basically a thin tube of steel that is fitted along the bottom of the back of the net -means the net is an entity entirely of itself. The only 'give' there could possibly be has to be within the net and support structure. As we have seen, the nets are often stretched as tightly as possible.

The bottom net support is practical. According to the manufacturer of the goals at Wembley, the bottom net support folds to enable ground maintenance so the net can be raised for cutting the grass, as in the photo to the left.

But the bottom net support is helping to kill the aesthetics of the ball hitting the back of the net.

The History of Goalnets says bring back the pegs. It's a small price to pay for beauty.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Goalnets and ball retention #2

Back in the day, a ball once scored used to nestle beautifully in the net -

I reviewed every goal in the Champions League R16 and studied the goals from last weekend's EPL and despaired that not one ball scored into the goalnet stayed in the net.

Stanchions were outlawed and free-hanging box-nets were introduced to put an end to things like this -

But the square box-net design - which has no slope in the back of the net to trap the ball - means the ball nearly always rebounds off the back of the net after a goal's been scored. This doesn't mean there is likely to ever be a Goal That Never Was from a rebound, but it does fly contrary to the manufacturer's assurance that free-hanging net supports are

UEFA/FIFA regulation, designed to suspend the net and eliminate rebounds.

The rebounds also affect the simple but glorious aesthetics of scoring a goal.

A goal may have many pleasing aesthetic qualities: the ball off the boot; the ball swerving in the air; the goalkeeper's despairing dive; but none is more important than the effect the ball has on the back of the net.

At the new Wembley the cavernous nets are stretched taut.

Goals scored in this once legendary stadium are sadly transformed into the aesthetic equals of goals scored into nets chalked on a wall in the schoolyard.

Uniform goalnets are producing uniform goal scoring aesthetics.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Goalnets and ball retention

You wouldn't know it to look at Johan Neesken's first minute penalty in 1974 -

but goal designs such as Loftus Road, where the odds on the net retaining the ball were about as long as retaining a full bladder after ten pints of lager, were a key driver behind the move to free-hanging box goalnets.

For the next few posts The History of Goalnets will consider the goalnets of today and their ball retention qualities.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Loftus Road - Keira Knightley

Sexy only if skinny and spindly float your boat though surprisingly popular, with similar stanchions at West Ham and Southampton. Nil points for ball retention.


West Ham


Sunday, March 7, 2010

World Cups - 1998, 2002 and 2006

Long before FIFA branded the ball itself, World Cup goalnets were once the signature of the tournament. You could see a World Cup clip on TV, spy the goalnets and identify exactly the tournament you were watching

But you look at France 1998...

Or Japan / South Korea in 2002...

Or Germany 2006, where box goalnets were first introduced, 32 years earlier...

and you see the goalnets, the goals, the clips... they all look the same

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

World Cups - USA 1994

The 1994 World Cup finals were the first to be played in a country with little or no football history. And though the sun shone, Brazil won, the neutrals went home happy and the tournament was declared a success, you didn't need to compare the pale, goalless final to its glorious 1970 counterpart to feel football had somehow misplaced its History at USA '94.

Sure, there were great goals and great, historical controversies

But there was Diana Ross, somehow setting the tone

And little spoke more of the lack of national football character than the billowing, characterless, portable box-nets installed at each of the venues.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

World Cups - Italy 1990

Boasting an architectural heritage that stretched back millennia and saw groovy new stadia built for the 1990 World Cup in Bari and Turin - and stadia especially renovated in Cagliari, Florence, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome and Verona - Italy let its violent and disappointing World Cup play out between disappointing, random sets of box-nets.

And not even a fat man singing Puccini could hide Italy's missed opportunity to make its mark in the history of on-field architecture.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mexico today

Mexico still has enormous free-hanging box nets -

and so successful was FIFA's masterplan that a quarter century later, so does everybody else.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

World Cups - Mexico 1986

A dirty backroom deal awarded Mexico its second tournament in only sixteen years and gave FIFA a TV on which to broadcast to the world that at the end of the 20th century they wanted football to be like McDonalds - anywhere you went in the world, it'd all be the same.

The enormous free-hanging box-nets installed at each stadium were not only a re-statement that the goals first seen in the 1974 tournament, were the first-class, on-field architecture of choice for the future. They also marked the beginning of the era of football as a brand on global TV. Previously you could sight the goalnets on TV and identify which stadium the game was being played in. After Mexico '86, it was possible only to glance up and say, "It's football."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

World Cups - Spain 1982

A hybrid 24-team format, neither the 16 team tournament of old nor the monstrous 32-team affair promised by FIFA.

With hybrid goalnets -

Neither the L-supports of '78 nor the monstrous box goalnets monopoly promised since 1974.

Cue Sil doing Pacino doing Michael from Godfather 3

Argentina today

30-odd years on, the military junta is gone

but the L-supports remain (albeit in a box net kinda fashion)