Monday, October 31, 2016

The Big Match - Week 10

The Big Match comes from the afternoon of Halloween, 1981.

It's West Ham v Middlesbrough at the Boleyn Ground.

Though the Boleyn nets are famously shallow, ball retention is helped by the stanchions planted just off the grass, which creates a narrow trench that slows or stops the ball.

Given the box nets of 2016 - pulled tight as smiles at Brad Pitt's house and made of trampoline - would Ray Stewart's penalty for 3-0 have rebounded to the half way line?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Match of the Day - Week 10

This week's Match of the Day previews Sunderland v Arsenal, a fixture with a long and proud history of goal nets (at Roker Park).

The sides played out a 1-1 draw between the square Roker Park stanchions in October 1969.

The square hardware still there in 1980, but with added spring in the software (spoiler alert: crazy box net-style rebounds).

Just two years later Sunderland had replaced the old square-os with standard A-frames (with better ball retention) and won 3-0.

In 1996/97, the last season at Roker Park, Sunderland won 1-0 between Continental D's and stripey goal nets.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Big Match - Week 9

This week's Big Match comes from the corresponding weekend in season 1980/81.

It's West Ham United v Bolton Wanderers and the wonderfully eccentric hardware at the old Boleyn Ground.

West Ham played out between these marvellously distinctive goal frames foe decades and any time you saw them playing on TV you KNEW the game was at the Boleyn because of the stanchions.

Where now any similar totems of distinctive identity at West Ham?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Match of the Day - Week 9

Match of the Day previews this weekend's Chelsea v Manchester United, by looking back at the same fixture in late 1992 and the iconic Stamford Bridge hardware (then in its second last season before being replaced by box nets).

Cantona's equaliser is particularly awesome, the way the ball is attracted to, then sticks to the stanchion, like a magnet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Big Match - Week 8

This week's Big Match comes from the weekend of 17 October 1971 and features the fantastic old shallow A-frames at Loftus Road and a perfect hat-trick from Rodney Marsh as QPR thrash Birmingham City.

What is interesting is how well the Loftus Road nets retain the ball, in contrast to QPR's later reputation and despite the basic lack of area in which to do so.

Might this be down to the saggy software of big white squares, which was later replaced by the thin mesh-like net of the later 1970's?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Match of the Day - Week 8 Special

The Monday night Liverpool v Manchester United match permits a second MOTD for the week and the Big Match series will follow Tuesday.

Previewing tonight's clash by looking back at two 3-3 classics and the wonderful ball retention at Anfield across two different methods of supporting the red goal nets.

April 1988 - the old red A-frames were still in place as late as 1988, with the nets hanging short, off the hardware. There are a couple of great goals among the six, particularly Steve McMahon's for 3-1 which goes straight in the corner - and stays there!

January 1994 - six years later, another six goal thriller. The Anfield goal nets were the supported by Continental D's but they had the same ball retention properties as the old stanchions. Check out Denis Irwin's free-kick for 0-3, its goes straight in the top corner - and stays there!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Match of the Day - Week 8

This week's Match of the Day previews this weekend's Manchester City v Everton clash at the Etihad by looking back at three previous fixtures and the History of Goal Nets at Manchester City's old home, Maine Road.

In April 1971 City beat Everton between big A-frames with blue nets dropped just behind the goal line and pulled taut, similar to West Ham at the old Boleyn Ground with similar ball retention properties.

Fast forward to March 1982. City are still hanging taut blue nets but this time they are suspended by the Continental D's installed just after Euro 76.

By the mid-1990's City have replaced the taut blue nets with saggy white software that responds beautifully to the four goals (the pick of which may be Paul Walsh's for 3-0).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

101 Great Goals - Frank Worthington

You could put Frank Worthington's picture in the dictionary under the word laconic. With a skill so great, Frank needed few words of explanation (though he did write an autobiography, the hilarious One Hump or Two).

In his 1979 goal of the season contender for Bolton Wanderers versus Ipswich Town, the goal nets too go all laconic. 

Yes, if they were of 2016 vintage, the goal nets could have responded to Frank's wonderful keepy-uppy and volley by making a big noise and springing a rebound round three sides of the goal before jettisoning the ball to the penalty spot. 

However the old, laconic Burnden Park A-frames are happy to kill the shot behind the line which requires the beaten goalkeeper to walk the walk and retrieve the ball. The game is paused in this time and Frank's magnificent skill can be celebrated properly. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Match of the Day - International Special

This week's Match of the Day is a World Cup qualifying special.

It previews this weekend's England v Malta match by looking back at the teams' previous game at the old Wembley Stadium, in May 1971.

It was back in the day when England could be expected to run riot against opposition such as Malta and they (particularly Martin Chivers) did, winning 5-0.

Much has changed since then, not least the Wembley goal nets.

Life was simpler then...

In retaining the ball behind the goalkeeper, the Wembley nets of 1971 keep things simple and, as such, are perfectly in keeping with a routine win for England over Malta.

At least three of the goals scored in 1971 would rebound round the goal like a pinball or out to the penalty spot if scored into the Wembley nets of today.

I read this week online that such rebounds add a "spectacular" element to the goal scored.

If true - it's not, but if true -  this would change the optics of the five goals scored in 1971 from the mundane to the spectacular and would distort the nature of the England victory over a then lowly Malta.

Simple can be beautiful too.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

101 Great Goals - John Metgod

You probably thought it was done, but there's still life in the old 101 Great Goals series.

Three wonderful things about John Metgod's legendary free kick for Nottingham Forest immediately spring to mind;

The 100 metres run-up (which gave the hint something special was about to be unleashed;

The Exocet trajectory of the shot;

John Metgod's celebration.

As our focus is the goal nets, I'd like to add a fourth wonderful thing - the simple physics of a traditionally hung and supported goal net killing the shot and retaining the ball.

The West Ham goalkeeper Phil Parkes is beaten - humiliated - and when he finally gets up, he still has the walk of shame to retrieve the ball from the net.

Compare John Metgod's cannonball with the recent Serge Gnabry rocket, a great goal, completely ruined by the ball bouncing straight back out to him.

If the ball had bounced back after John Metgod's free kick, it'd probably still be traveling today.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Big Match - Week 7

This week's Big Match comes from Stamford Bridge on the corresponding weekend in 1978 and features the West Brom side of Regis, Cunningham and Batson (and Godden, Robson, Wile, Statham and the two Browns!) simply overwhelm a poor Chelsea side.

It's also a showcase for the Stamford Bridge hardware which remained fantastic, despite the downturn in Chelsea's fortunes.