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.