Sunday, 13 June 2010

The loneliest job in the world?

Views have been aired, thousands of words have been written and printed. I can add little to the wisdom, perceived, imagined or actual, of the TV commentators, sports journalists and sofa pundits, who have already tried and judged the outcome of last night's football game between England and the USA.
I am, however, still reflecting and wondering why anyone would ever want to be a goalkeeper.
My beloved and I go to a lot of football matches - almost every week during the football season. We always choose to sit or stand behind the goal, which means we spend a lot of time watching the man in front of the net. For the best part of ninety minutes, a goalkeeper is on his own, while his team-mates run around the field, playing without him. He can't join in. He can't astound and excite the fans with a hundred yard dribble then fire in a shot that threatens to burst through the net. There's no skilful passing, no holding up the ball in midfield, not even a chance of a sliding tackle. When you're a goalie, there's nothing you can do to help your team's progress. All you can do is keep warm, stay focused and keep your eye on the ball. All you can hope is that, at some point, you will be called on to make a heroic leap, a dramatic dive that will stop the ball and keep your team in the game.
And if, as happened to Rob Green last night, you slip or stumble, fluff or fumble - then you become not only an outsider to the ten men who are supposed to be your team-mates, you become an outcast to thousands.
We all make mistakes. I'm sure we all know that feeling of wishing we could turn the clock back, retrieve a situation. What most of us never have to endure is the humiliation of seeing our slip-ups filmed and photographed, played and replayed, again and again and again.
Last night's images of England's goalkeeper will stay with me for a long time - heartbreaking pictures of him down on all fours, desperately crawling back towards the goal, in the vain hope that he could snatch back the ball and his reputation. 
There were eleven men in the England team, but only one of them is shouldering the blame for our faltering start to the World Cup. Sometimes, being a goalkeeper must be the loneliest job in the world.


Madame DeFarge said...

The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty kick and all that. I did feel for him though - it's rather a visible mistake, but then other people managed to not score and that gets overlooked.

Talli Roland said...

Poor poor Rob. I would never want to be a goalkeeper! Too much pressure.

the eternal worrier is: said...

I wouldn’t want to swap with the goalkeeper. I didn’t see them this morning but no doubt the English papers tore him apart.

Eryl Shields said...

I felt so sorry for him, still do, though not quite as sorry as I now feel for the Australian team. He made quite a good save later too, didn't he?

Anonymous said...

I'd prefer to be the goalkeeper. Less chance of getting randomly tripped over. Though I would probably jump out of the way of the ball rather than into its path.

Pat said...

Enlightening post. There is a lot of heartfelt sympathy for Rob Green and I think he will weather the storm and hopefully be given another chance in this World cup.

DPR said...

As a fully paid up member of the goalkeepers union, maybe I can shed some light on why anyone would be one. Firstly, you don't have to run around so much- a real bonus if, like me, you were pushing 20 stone in my goalkeeping heyday. Secondly, it is accepted that you are a bit different, individual, nuts even.You can be a loner in a team game. Thirdly, you get to knock players out the way with flying limbs when taking high balls, safe in the knowledge the ref will always protect you. Fourth, there is always that chance that you will be the hero, never more so than in a penalty shoot out. I once won a cup final shootout, saving the fifth penalty, then scoring our fifth. What adulation. I could go on. Don't feel too sorry for Rob Green. All keepers secretly enjoy the lonely misery of being singled out after an error of this magnitude. We are all just attention seekers. The final great thing about keeping is the kit-snazzy colours of your own and as for the gloves, thats a whole new story in itself.

Sharon Longworth said...

DPR - thank you so much for commenting.
I always thought there was more to you than meets the eye - I never had you down as a goalkeeper. Thespian, sportsman...what other hidden skills and talents are you storing up to reveal over time?