Sunday, December 14, 2014

101 Great Goals - Steven Gerrard

Remember the premise behind the 101 Great Goals series?

What constitutes a Great Goal? As this is The History of Goal Nets, simply any goal can be considered Great if we enjoyed the aesthetics of ball striking net so much that we are moved to nominate that goal.

With this in mind, the next goal I'd like to study in terms of a greatness perceived immediately by the commentary and sold into folklore is Steven Gerrard's against Olympiakos.

In terms of technique and ball placement, the Gerrard goal is remarkably similar to the vastly underrated Graeme Souness goal v Manchester City (at 6.04) below.

The difference is, though scored in the Champions League, Gerrard's goal is pure EPL in terms of hyperbole.

Two things have conspired to transform a good Gerrard goal into a wonder strike.

Firstly, the aesthetics of the goal. Most pertinent for us who understand how the aesthetics of ball striking net can affect how a goal is rated, Gerrard's shot rebounded ridiculously off the software like a ball in pinball machine.

That's right - off the software - as there wasn't an atom of aluminium within a metre of the corner of the net.

Rebounds off the hardware can be ridiculously spectacular.

But as always argued that rebounds off 21st century box-nets pulled taut and made of trampoline are simply ridiculous and are ruining the aesthetics of the game.

Then there's the commentary from Andy Gray, which has become almost as famous as the goal itself.  Though it must be remembered he was there to sell "product," it must rate as highly doubtful that the Souness goal - which rebounded normally off the A-frame - would elicit such an immediate response from the commentator.

If you think it unlikely that the legend of Stevie G is down to poor ball retention at Anfield, ask yourself, does anyone remember the Graeme Souness shot which was the exact same goal without the rebound?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

AFC Bournemouth

Did you know the Cherries used to play in red and white and were called plain old Bournemouth FC, then changed their moniker to AFC Bournemouth and donned red and black stripes so they could be like AC Milan?

Do you think the A-frames at old Dean Court also resemble those at old AC Milan?

Bournemouth - Dean Court

AC Milan - Stadio Giuseppe Meazza

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Norwich City FC

Not a good look...

In 2005,  the majority shareholder was wondering where the Canaries fans were....

And the Carrow Road goal nets looked like this....

A good look....

In 1993 Norwich beat the mighty Bayern Munich with bright yellow software and classy Continental D's...

And in 1980, about the time of Justin Fashanu's goal of the season, the hardware looked like this...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Queens Park Rangers FC

For those whom the 1970's were the apogee of hardware design, Gerry Francis' goal from 1975 and the ball-against-the-wall-in-training aesthetic of the ball hitting the Loftus Road nets says everything you need to know about QPR at that time.

But like their partners in ball-retention-crime West Ham Utd, if you look back far enough you discover the R's have a rich history of goal nets.

During the time of the Model T and "any colour as long as it's black," the Loftus Road hardware and software was very much in fashion for their time.

There were A-list A-frames in 1967.

By 1969, QPR replaced the A-frames with the 70's classics.

The 1970's were dumped in 1983 for trendy Continental D's, which stayed in place through the 1990's.

This haunting video gives one last glimpse of the old Gerry Francis stanchions in 1979.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hearts FC - Historian David Speed

I was recently in touch with Hearts historian and archivist David Speed regarding the wonderful stanchions that once supported the Gorgie goal nets. His reply to my enquiry is as below.

Dear History of Goal Nets, thanks for your enquiry about the goal nets and frames. This is indeed an interesting question. 

Th nets and stanchions to which you refer were installed at the start of 1965-66 and, as you say, were dismantled at the end of 1983-84. Sadly I was not involved in preserving the club's history at that time and they were not retained. I checked this with the club groundsman and there is nothing of this nature in the store. I have also checked the club minutes and no reason is given for the change of goals. This must have been a fashion issue. 

Regarding the change in 1983-84, it is only a personal observation but perhaps the change was due to the fact that the ground was struggling to comply with the Safety of Sports Ground Act. In this connection, more space was required around the perimeter for the police and stewards. The D-shape stanchion achieved this. 

David supplied the marvellous photo below for our pleasure.

Thanks David.

Monday, September 22, 2014

West Ham Utd

The hardware at the Boleyn Ground wasn't always synonymous with poor ball retention.

In the 1930's, a pair of Sunderland-style square-o's stood at either end of the field.

You get a better, albeit brief, glimpse of them here, in 1935.

By the 1960's, the Hammers had installed a classic set of A-frames.

The skinny curved stanchions of yore were installed in the 1967/68 season.

And so commenced the glory years of spectacular rebounds out of the Boleyn goal nets, till the appearance of box nets in the aftermath of the Spain 1982 World Cup.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

UEFA Champions League - Sporting de Gijon

Until the 1982 World Cup, los Rojiblancos had a great history of goal nets at El Molinon, the oldest professional football ground in Spain.

If you sight the way the nets are supported in La Liga, post Espana '82, do they remind you of a famous upset at that World Cup?

Yes, El Molinon was the venue for West Germany v Algeria.

Just another example of how the goal nets can instantly identify a stadium.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A-list A-frames - Crystal Palace FC

Involved as they were in one of football's greatest 'ghost goals' (which many erroneously credit with the box nets of today) the Eagles have a special place in the history of goal nets.

Selhurst Park - like those at Coventry's Highfield Road at the time of Clive Allen and the blind referee - was a long time home to classic English-style A-frames.



Then 1995, Eric Cantona and all that...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Leicester City FC

In their 111 years at Filbert Street, the Foxes switched from Continental D's (1960), to off-the-shoulder A-frames (till 1977) then back to Continental D's again (till Filbert Street closed in 2002).




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stoke City FC

The Potters boast a proud history of goal nets at their old Victoria Ground.

Pre-war, Stoke and a very young Stanley Matthews were A-frames adherents.

30 years later, the Potters and a 46-year old Stanley Matthews were shooting into Continental D's.

Continental D's then supported the nets at the Victoria Ground until the move to the new Britannia Stadium (and box nets) in 1997.

1976 (and "the boy Crooks")



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Burnley FC

Burnley are one of only three teams to have won all top four professional divisions in English football, the others being Wolverhampton Wanderers and Preston North End.

In 2014 The Clarets are back in the Premier League with generic box nets at either end of Turf Moor.

But Burnley's History of Goal Nets is dominated by Continental D's.





1996 - the last year before box nets were installed

A haunting last look at Turf Moor in the 1970's

Friday, June 6, 2014

Goias Esporte Clube - Brasileiro 2014

Goias play at the splendid Estadio Serra Dourada, the hardware at which, to this day, is native Brazilian L-supports.

Sadly passed over for World Cup 2014, Serra Dourada nonetheless hosted the Selecao in last week's warm up match versus Panama.

I believe most football fans - be they goal nets aficionados or not - would identify the L-supports at Serra Dourada with Brazil as surely as anyone in the street would identify the yellow shirts and blue shorts as the Selecao.

Eric Cantona was in the papers last week arguing global commoditised football would damage the game, and aren't FIFA's homogenous box nets one of the most visual examples of global commoditised football?

I believe it's therefore a simple argument to make that the loss of identity suffered as a result of FIFA replacing the native L-supports as per those at Serra Dourada for the generic box nets installed at the 12 stadia for World Cup 2014 is damaging to the game.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

UEFA Champions League Final Special - Lisbon

Tonight's 2014 Champions League Final between the two Madrid sides, Real and Atletico, will be played at Benfica's Estadio da Luz.

As previously posted on this blog, Benfica have a wonderful history of goal nets.

This year's final is the first time the European Cup final has been played in Lisbon since 1967, when Celtic defeated Inter at Estadio Nacional.

The distinctive L-supports of Jamor 1967 were replaced a couple of years later by stanchions.

In a wonderful nod to tradition, the stanchions remained in place until 2012.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spain 1982 - FIFA World Cup revisited

The forthcoming World Cup tournament in Brazil is not the first time FIFA has ripped out the existing on-field architecture and replaced it with anonymous and homogenous boxnets.

The 1982 finals in Spain are a prime example of FIFA insisting on non-native hardware for a World Cup tournament. As I posted some time ago - and re-posted in full below - the hybrid format of the 24 team tournament was matched by hybrid goal nets that added no flavour of Spain to the Spanish World Cup (exactly the result the global brand managers at FIFA had in mind).

Barcelona played out season 1981/82 between their classic Chelsea-style A-frames at the Nou Camp.

But by the time the opening game between Argentina and Belgium kicked off, the stanchions - the style of which had followed Barcelona from their previous stadium, Camp de Les Corts - were gone.

Similarly, the instantly recognisable curved stanchions of Real Madrid greeted teams to the Bernabeufor season 1981/82.

Yet Marco Tardelli's unforgettable goal in the World Cup final was scored into completely forgettable goal nets.

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

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Arena das Dunas - World Cup 2014 Venue

Arena das Dunas in the Brazilian region of Rio Grande do Norte will host four FIFA World Cup 2014 matches and thereafter be the home stadium - and derby day venue - for bitter Natal rivals, America Futebol Clube (RN) and ABC Futebol Clube.

However,  consider the wonderful diversity locally available to the two Natal clubs, and all that's been lost to the game and the 2014 World Cup by the installation of the homogenous boxnets.

America RN @ Nazarenao

ABC @ Frasqueirao

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sport Club Corinthians Paulista - Brasileiro 2014

Before the Timao decamp this weekend to the FIFA World Cup 2014 venue Arena Corinthians (they're slated to play Figueirense on 18 May in the first competitive game at the new stadium), let's look back at the club's history of fantastic goals and wonderful goal nets at their old ground, Pacaembu.






Saturday, May 10, 2014

Arena Pantanal - World Cup 2014 Venue

Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba - a city in the exact centre of South America - is a new stadium which will host four matches during FIFA World Cup 2014. The stadium is complete and opened recently, with the obligatory boxnets at either end.

Arena Pantanal replaces Estadio Governador Jose Fragelli, nicknamed Verdao (and home to three clubs, including Mixto Esporte Clube).

In an effort to maintain links with the past, FIFA have nicknamed the new stadium Verdao, while championing its green (Verdao) credentials.

A better link to Cuiaba and Brazil's footballing past would have been for FIFA to maintain the traditional L-supports that once graced either end of the old stadium.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Sao Paulo FC - Brasileiro 2014

The Tricolor have played two home games this season, one at Morumbi, the other at Pacaembu.

The goal nets at either could easily be transplanted back in time to Mexico 86 and nobody would notice the difference.



The goal nets at both were once classic Brazilian L-supports.



Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Esporte Clube Bahia - Brasileiro 2014

Bahia play at the utterly charmless FIFA World Cup 2014 venue, Arena Fonte Nova.

Arena Fonte Nova replaced the old Estadio Fonte Nova, which had a great deal more character and, during the 1980's and 90's a tremendous set of A-frames at either end of the field.

Further back in Bahia's History of Goal Nets, native Brazilian L-supports were the method of choice for supporting the nets at Fonte Nova.

Monday, April 28, 2014

SC Internacional - Brasileiro 2014

SC Internacional's home stadium, Estadio Beira-Rio, is a FIFA World Cup 2014 venue.

Though you may not be amazed to see FIFA's customary box nets installed for Inter's opening game of the 2014 season against Vitoria...

Inter have such a proud tradition of native Brazilian L-supports that our friend Gustavo Garcia at portrayed Beira-Rio with these nets in his illustration.

And you only have to look back as far as qualifying for the 2010 World Cup to see the Selecao playing at Beira-Rio and the L-supports there.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fluminense FC - Brasileiro 2014

With FIFA World Cup 2014 almost upon us, The History of Goalnets celebrates the start of the new Brazilian Serie A season by visiting the Serie A stadia and checking out the on-field architecture at each.

Until recently, Brazil was one of the only countries left in world football which rebelled against this era of uniform and homogenous box-nets,  and where the native system deployed to support the nets - L-supports, in Brazil's case - could still be seen.

As the World Cup has crept closer, and the focus of the game's global policeman FIFA has sharpened, so the native L-supports have largely been replaced. But not all...

When the World Cup final is played at Estadio do Maracana on 13 July, you can be sure the nets will be firmly tied back and hang like square tents that can't be differentiated from those in Munich 1974, Mexico City 1986, and the last four, utterly uniform, World Cup finals.

However, when Fluminense kicked off their 2014 season at Maracana last weekend, the nets were hanging in the shape of L-supports. OK, the hardware has been shorn of the actual L-supports, so the nets are still tied to stanchions, like box nets. Interestingly the ground staff have chosen to tie the nets so they're shaped like classic L-supports.

Might this be because of complaints during last year's Confederations Cup that the nets at the renovated Maracana had been changed and the spirit of the old stadium lost?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

101 Great Goals - Antonin Panenka

Can a penalty be a great goal? It can be, when it's the greatest penalty ever taken.

For all it's audacity and courage, it's worth considering the aesthetic effect the Belgrade Continental D's which smothered the shot, have played in making this penalty so memorable.

Compare and contrast with the following Panenka penalties:


Zidane's penalty, 5 minutes into the 2006 World Cup final is certainly audacious, but has the ball not striking net reduced it's impact on the collective memory?


Much of the commentary resulting from Pirlo's peerless kick focused on Joe Hart sprawled on his backside rather than the kick itself. Might this have something to do with the ball hitting the net like a ball against a wall in training?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

101 Great Goals - Gerry Francis

Though 101 Great Goals is primarily concerned with the aesthetic added to a great goal by the ball striking the net, it may also from time to time consider a great goal, the aesthetics of which have been soured by the on-field architecture.

Gerry Francis' superb goal on the opening day of the 1975/76 season against Liverpool heralded the arrival of an exciting QPR side and was as much a statement of intent as Roberto Bettega's similar goal at the 1978 World Cup. 

But the similarities of the goals ends when the ball hits the net.

The L-supports at el Monumental afforded Bettega's goal maximum ball retention and, with the ball dead in the net, the Argentine crowd and the watching audience at home are given time to reflect on a great goal, a great Italian performance and the host nation Argentina facing defeat.

When the stanchions at the old Loftus Road, notoriously planted mere inches behind the goal line, deflect Gerry Francis' shot immediately back into the field of play, they deny Gerry Francis and QPR (and Liverpool) that same moment of reflection. Yes, it was still a great goal, but could QPR maintain their challenge? Or would they, like the ball flashing in and out of the goal, be a flash in the pan?


Despite losing this opening game of the season Liverpool won the 1975/76 league title.

QPR finished second.

Friday, March 7, 2014

101 Great Goals - Roberto Bettega

Even after you set aside all the externals surrounding this game - with the Italians successfully facing down the Junta, the rabid River Plate crowd and an admittedly still misfiring Albiceleste - this is still an amazing goal.

It's all there...

The 1-2 with Paolo Rossi...

The drill of a shot into the bottom corner...

Maximum ball retention by the World Cup '78 L-supports TM

Monday, February 3, 2014

A-list A-frames - Huddersfield Town FC

Huddersfield Town boasted a proud history of on-field hardware at their old Leeds Road ground.

In 1971 they welcomed the Manchester United of Best, Law and Charlton with black stanchions (and perhaps the "double-netting" seen at Colchester about the same time?)

Ten years later the Leeds Road hardware was white and slightly off the shoulder.

Later that decade, by the time the Terriers hosted Manchester's other club, the stanchions have made way for Continental D's.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

101 Great Goals - Trevor Brooking

Brian Moore: Look at the ball, caught up in the corner there.

How Trevor Brooking's top-corner strike was transformed from the merely terrific into the unforgettable.