Posted by

No.6: Big & Smaller Goals

The game finished one all with both goals being scored in the opening ten minutes. I hit the post with a header and had two goalbound shots well saved by Derek Nugget then in the dying minutes he also prevented my diving header from nestling in the net as would’ve been its deserved outcome.

The match was most memorable, though, for the heroic efforts of Pete Hyde who played at the back rather than his usual midfield position due to the paucity of defenders this week, and what a sterling job he did. On three occasions he headed dark shirts efforts on goal to safety like a keeper who’d been instructed not to use his hands or feet. One of the shots was a rocket blasted from Martyn Stephens’ launchpad that would’ve taken the head off any mere mortal but Pete not only didn’t flinch while executing the clearance he also immediately set about issuing instructions on how to defend the resultant throw in as if this manoeuvre had been as insignificant as swatting away a fly. Yet, he is 63 years old.

As I left the field Phil Dallas who had been marking me commented that my failure to score had something to do with the goals being too big. He is a great lad but our biggest wind up merchant and really I should just humour him by agreeing with whatever nonsense he is spouting to generate a response, but I inevitably have my say. For instance if I put a header wide and he is on the opposition team he will clap my effort and call out what a great clearance it was. It’s designed to have a psychological effect on me, to undermine my confidence, essential for a striker, but whenever he stoops to that level I rise above it and content myself with the fact that I must pose a threat to his team’s prospects for him to employ such a tactic.

The reference to the goals being too big goes back to an explanation I offered once in The Swan during our post match analysis, invariably accompanied by a pint. Phil had asked me to talk us through a shot off target I’d had (it’s noticeable he never asks me to talk us through any of the goals I score) and I offered the theory that I find scoring in the larger goals a bigger mental barrier to surmount. This is evidenced by the fact that in my first year of playing walking football I scored 54 goals when we used the smaller goals on the smaller pitch, due to usually having seven or eight a side, but this reduced to 38 goals the following year when our numbers increased to eleven or twelve a side and warranted playing on a bigger pitch with bigger, almost full sized goals.

I contend that mentally it’s harder to score in the bigger goals because the odds then favour the striker more, the expectation increases and thus, likewise, the chance of failure. Put it this way. If one is stood say four metres from a darts board with a dart and are asked to try and hit a bullseye the size of a little penny, one isn’t expected to be successful with the attempt. Thus one can throw the arrow with confidence knowing that the outcome is unlikely to be mocked. Invariably one then hits the little bullseye or comes bloody close to it. However, if the bullseye is expanded to the size of a small plate or saucer it’s much easier to hit and one is expected to strike the thing then with the arrow rather than miss. It’s then that the fear of failure can enter the stadium in one’s head and bring the shakes on when gripping the dart before unleashing the shot whereas with the smaller bullseye one was relaxed and composed.

Of course, my theory was ridiculed. Mention was made of Harry Kane, England’s record goalscorer, being told before kick-off by the manager the bad news that they had made the goals bigger or replaced their 6 foot 6 inch Goliath of a shot-stopper, with a 4 foot 10 inch junior with a hand injury and Kane then going to pieces. I know sometimes I should just put them on ignore and not engage in debate but I am a maverick and it is our opinions that challenge conventional thinking and provoke debate. Even if it does provide the likes of Phil Dallas with ammunition to fire back at me. Fortunately it never hits the target.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.