Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hurdling the Keeper

I remember one of the types of goal I used to love watching in the 1970s. They were unusual, but happened occasionally. They pre-date the modern interpretation of offside which has made them rarer still. An offside trap was sprung giving a forward a free run through on goal - an offside trap that failed always left defenders with too much to do to catch up.

Clever players enticed the goalkeeper out, dropped a shoulder to commit him and then poked the ball past the other side, hurdled the keeper's outstretched legs and either slotted home, or took a touch to control and then did so.

It was one of the skills my friends and I tried to perfect in the playground and park.

See George Best doing it in the 1968 European Cup Final at

Notice, if you are quick, that he is just caught by the keeper as he goes past but keeps his balance to score.

So what would happen today? More often than not a forward, feeling the keeper's gentle caress oops I mean hard kick, would sense the opportunity to take a penalty against ten men and would fall to the turf. 'He has every right to go down there' comments Alan Shearer with his notorious grasp of human rights.

In every other walk of life the plaintiff has a common law duty to minimise his losses. So it should be a yellow card offence not simply to simulate but to choose to be the victim of a foul you could have avoided. We can't bring back the through-on-goal excitement but we can recover the lost art of hurdling a tackle.

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