Thursday, May 30, 2013

Off the stanchions at Wembley - England v Brazil Special

It's not John Barnes and it's not Brazilian, no matter what Martin Tyler might say in the commentary.

But isn't Graeme Le Saux's volley off the stanchions at Wembley in the 1995 friendly a bit special?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

UEFA Champions League Final Special - Wembley Stadium

It was only last night so everybody knows that Bayern were crowned 2013 champions at Wembley Stadium. But 50 years from now, could anyone looking at a clip of Arjen Robben's winner be sure of the venue?

Is there anything in the colour HD to 100% identify Wembley?

50 years ago, in the 1963 final, Milan beat Benfica.

The footage is grainy black and white but half a century later, all it takes is one sighting of the goal nets and YOU KNOW it's Wembley.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

UEFA Champions League Final Special - Parc des Princes

In 1981 Alan Kennedy's memorable goal secured Liverpool's third European Cup at the expense of Real Madrid.

The goal nets at the Parc des Princes that night were instantly recognisable as 'French'; free-hanging A-shaped nets, tied back to external box-net stanchions.

A quarter of a century earlier, at the same stadium, Real Madrid were contesting the very first European Cup final against Stade Reims.

The goal nets at the Parc des Princes that night were more Glaswegian than Parisienne.

UEFA Champions League Final Special - Wankdorf Stadium

In 1961 Benfica broke Real Madrid's monopoly on the Big Cup, beating Barcelona 3-2 at the Wankdorf Stadium in Berne, Switzerland.

Again, the method deployed to suspend the goal nets makes the Wankdorf instantly recognisable. But what to make of those ground supports? The picture below, from the 1954 World Cup final, shows the ground supports are solid and fixed to the posts and that the stanchions are effectively screwed in.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

UEFA Champions League Final Special - Hampden Park

Hampden Park has hosted two of the superlative moments of Champions League - or European Cup - history.

In 1960 Real Madrid won their fifth title, scoring seven into the Iron Man stanchions and destroying Eintracht Frankfurt.

42 years later Madrid were back in Glasgow for their ninth title. The old stanchions had gone but Hampden laid on 1960-style black nets, in tribute. Zidane did the rest.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

WC 2014 - Two goals at the Maracana

Two great goals.

One scored last week.

The other was scored nearly 30 years ago.

Which can you definitively state was scored at the Maracana?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Estadio do Maracana - World Cup 2014 Venue

When England plays Brazil in the Maracana on 2 June it will be nearly 29 years to the day since their last game in the old stadium. That game in 1984, a routine end of season friendly will always be remembered for John Barnes ‘Brazilian’ goal, when he slalomed through the Brazilian defence to score an incredible solo goal.

But how, at a distance of nearly 30 years can one instantly identify this goal was scored at the Maracana rather than Wembley? Or, given the Selecao’s Harlem Globetrotters-style schedule, at the Maracana and not New York or Doha?

The answer is simple. The goal nets.

Until recently each region of the football world employed different methods of suspending the goal nets. In England and the Low Countries, full support stanchions or “A-frames” were favoured. In Central Europe triangular “elbows” or “Continental D” supports were preferred. South America and Brazil’s on-field architecture of choice was the “L-supports” seen at the 1950 World Cup final in the Maracana, in the Argentina1978 World Cup finals and at the Maracana in 1984 when John Barnes scored.

At club level too, each ground could be individually identified by it’s goal nets. Chelsea had a crook in the base of their stanchions, as did Barcelona whose goals were easily identifiable from the curvy stanchions at the Bernabeu (the particular on-field architecture of which Heart of Midlothian copied and made their own in Scotland).

In this period, right up to the 1980’s, clubs were brands and they celebrated their individuality and highlighted their differences from other clubs, as brands do. However clubs are no longer brands. Instead, the competitions the clubs play in are the brands. So be it the Champions League or Premier League, the game’s organisers sell a collective product with a homogenous design of on-field architecture – the free-hanging box net.

Though the box net has been around for over 100 years, it came to global prominence at the 1974 World Cup finals, the first tournament where a uniform method of suspending the goal nets was employed across all stadia. In England, Europa 96 and UEFA’s insistence on uniform box nets spelt the end for individual goals at the domestic club level.

Box nets are now everywhere, including at the Maracana and on 2 June Wayne Rooney could dribble past five Brazilian defenders and round the goalkeeper to score and, watching on TV you wouldn’t know if he’d scored in Brazil or in Blackburn. Goal nets everywhere look the same.

Check out the message boards, fans everywhere mourn the loss of the different methods for suspending the goal nets and their clubs and national sides’ subsequent loss of individual identity.

Next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil offers the opportunity to restore individual identity in the game.

In the 1920’s South American football began to differentiate itself from its Anglo-Saxon equivalent by promoting the individual over collective values and musical metaphors were employed to describe playmakers as conductors and wingers as soloists.  Football was recognised as art. This reached its apogee in the 1970 World Cup final, where Brazil’s virtuoso individuality and agility swept aside the organisation, physical force and collective endeavour of Italy.  “You cannot be the best in the world at a game without loving it,” Hugh McIvanney wrote in rapture at the final. No team has ever loved the game more, before or since and the Selecao became synonymous with individuality in football.

The goal nets at international tournaments have long influenced the club scene after the event. Hence you’ll see Manchester United free-hanging their nets Spanish-style in front of their existing stanchions after the 1982 World Cup, and Manchester City installing the Continental D’s of Belgrade after Panenka and the European Championships of 1976.

Thus, should FIFA install Brazilian-style L-supports to suspend the goal nets at next year’s Brazilian World Cup finals, it will not only delight fans the world over but be a huge signal to the game’s national associations and competition organisers that there is still space for individuality in this era of collectivism and homogeneity.

Sign our petition at and demand that FIFA World Cup 2014 respects the traditions of the South American football region in general and Brazil in particular, and promote regional and national identity in the game by adopting the L-supports method of goal net suspension at each of the stadia at the World Cup finals in Brazil.