Thursday, May 31, 2012

UEFA European Championships - Spain 1964

The 1964 finals were held in Spain, the final at the Bernabeu, where the nets hung from the same sexy Latin curves on show at the Chile World Cup two years earlier.

UEFA European Championships - France 1960

With little over a week until the start of Euro 2012, The History of Goalnets takes you on a slow meander back through the nets that have featured at each of 13 previous tournaments, starting with the inaugural Finals tournament in 1960.

Back then, only the four semi-finalists contested the Finals tournament (a format which changed only in 1980) and the Soviet Union prevailed over a talented Yugoslav side in the final at the Parc de Princes in Paris.

What's interesting about the goalnets is how little they change between this first final of the European Championships and the seventh final, held at the same venue in 1984.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Iconic Goals - Carlos Alberto

How the goal nets helped frame the most famous goals ever scored

Forget the melina and the elaborate build-up play against an Italy side exhausted and in disarray after the controversial late introduction of Gianni Rivera; the goal that symbolises the greatest team in history begins with Pele.

From there you'll see this famous goal described in terms of Pele's pass and Carlos Alberto's shot, as though this was a goal of two movements - pass / shot - when in fact, it has three movements - pass / shot / net.

Carlos Alberto's shot is often described as a thunderbolt or cannonball, where a firework might be a better metaphor:

Pele lights the fuse (first movement) - and stands well back - and the ball shoots from Carlos Alberto's boot like a rocket (second movement).

But rockets can be duds, can shoot into the night sky and fail to explode. At which times, two movements is insufficient and the sense of disappointment is palpable.

The last goal scored in the 1970 World Cup, the goal that came to symbolise the greatest team in history is no disappointment. Carlos Alberto's shot is no dud. It's aim is true.

But only when the ball hits the back of the net - and the net explodes (third movement) - does the celebration truly begin.

You'll have seen this goal hundreds of times - it's one of the most famous goals ever scored - but look at it now with fresh eyes and ask, two movements or three?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Off the stanchions at Wembley - European Champions League Final Special

Back in 1968 when the Big Cup was called the European Cup, and when the Wembley nets hung on legs like Cameron Diaz, Bobby Charlton hooked in Manchester United's fourth goal against Benfica...
and the ball bounced out off the stanchion.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Jonathan Wilson @ WSC - The Joy of Nets

Football writer Jonathan Wilson explains his - and our - "little obsession" in When Saturday Comes 257

The joy of nets 

Jonathan Wilson revisits a former footballing preoccupation and laments the loss of a once unique part of any ground

Reading fans’ accounts of their first visit to a stadium, it seems most are struck by two things: the pure greenness of the pitch (which seems odd given how ungrassy most pitches of two or more decades ago look by comparison with modern football) and the intensity of the noise. I suppose I was taken by both those things when I first experienced football live (Sunderland 1 Southampton 1, Roker Park, October 1982), but what made a bigger impression on me was the net. Drawn, not quite taut but far from baggy, across the red stanchions, it seemed impossibly huge. (It had to be, how else could Steve Williams have sidefooted a finish past the great Chris Turner?) It was quite possibly the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen – pale, white, ethereal, the smallness of the holes and the neatness of the string giving it the delicacy of a bridal veil.

In my mind – and I fully accept the possibility that my memory has embellished some details – it was a misty afternoon and small droplets of water hung from the knots glinting in the floodlights like the tiniest diamonds. Seventeen years later I scored the final goal of my – low-level, largely indifferent – university football career. It was the year after I’d left, but having gone back for a piss-up I was drafted in to make up the numbers for the college thirds. They’d changed the nets while I’d been away, replacing the old functional cords with something far more like the virginal lace of early Eighties Roker Park. That was a damp afternoon and as my free-kick fizzed down the back of the stanchion, water-droplets cascaded from the strings. It was so perfect, I didn’t really want to score another goal.
I recognise this may make me sound a little odd – although Subbuteo used to sell several different versions, which suggests I wasn’t the only one with this obsession – and I also realise that nets, in the wider scheme of all that could be better about football, probably don’t matter all that much. But I’d also suggest that their development is indicative of a disturbing wider trend in football.

As you do when you’re a kid, I suppose I believed these things were permanent. I noted that Arsenal had nets quite similar to ours, that Tottenham’s stanchions were dark blue and West Ham’s white, that at The Dell and at Kenilworth Road the nets seemed to come almost straight down, absurdly close to the goal-line, and that Newcastle and Sheffield Wednesday preferred a D-hoop on the post to the full A-frame. I revelled in the deep-red Liverpool preferred and the fact they used so much netting that the give in them smothered even the most powerful of shots.

I loved Wembley’s neutral green stanchions, slightly more rounded than most (although not as rounded as Hampden Park) and deeper net, which seemed to give goals scored there extra gravitas. And I despised the raggedy big squares of Selhurst Park and fully admit the absurdity that Sunderland’s relegation there in 1997 hurt me more because we’d been beaten by Wimbledon, a side with so little concern for aesthetics that they leased a ground whose nets looked like the tattered fishnets of a cheap whore. If you’d shown me a photo of a net in the mid Eighties, I could have told you the ground.
Abroad, of course, was even more exciting – the vast yellow boxes of Mexico that seemed to invite long-range drives, Italy with its hexagonal holes, the enormous tents of Barcelona and Benfica (about which I developed the theory that by making the goal seem bigger they encouraged forwards to shoot from narrow angles), the red-and-white striped posts of parts of the eastern block, the black-based posts of Argentina. Basically, I loved the range, the difference, the fact that a goalframe was a thing to be interpreted as a club desired (obviously encouraged by the fact that Sunderland interpreted them with such a sense of class and dignity, until they switched to a D and a coarser gauge of net, sewn by prisoners at Durham jail, in 1990, a betrayal for which I’ve never quite forgiven them – no wonder we went down that season).

And now, of course, if you showed me a photo of a net, it could be anywhere in the world from the Premier League to Japan to Cameroon. Colours occasionally change but they all share the same basic shape, with a pole behind the goal holding up a basic functional cuboid. Obviously it doesn’t really matter, it’s just my little obsession, but as with so much, globalisation has led to homogeneity and another little piece of football’s romance has died.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Off the stanchions at Wembley - Keith Houchen

The best diving header from one of the best cup finals at Wembley?

You'll see from the replay it goes in off the post... but rebounds out, off the stanchion

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Like kicking the ball against a wall in training

In posts on this site, you'll frequently spot the metaphor, Like kicking the ball against a wall in training.

It's a criticism of the bland aesthetic of the ball hitting the back of a modern box goalnet sprung like trampoline, and bouncing straight back out again.

Going forward it'd be useful for you to have a visual of this metaphor.

Below is Liverpool's Jimmy Case in the 1970's...

Kicking the ball against a wall in training

Friday, May 4, 2012

Off the stanchions at Wembley - Paul Gascoigne

We're back - with a bang!

We're back with Paul Gascoigne's rocket in the 1991 FA Cup semi against Arsenal.

Cue Barry Davies - "Is Gascoigne going to have a crack? He is you know..."