Football is a simple game. The aim? To score more goals than the opposition.
The official rules of the game state (in Law 10) that:
“A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.”
Defenders and goalkeepers will try to stop that happening and strikers are the players charged with doing the most to make it happen.
On the popular Guardian Football Weekly podcast the football journalist Jonathan Wilson once made the claim that “Goals are overrated.”
His point, as a scholar of football tactics, was that the sport had become like a game of chess. Several fascinating battles are waged across the pitch and the art of stopping a team from scoring is as important as scoring a goal itself. With those twin aims in mind, tactical plans are devised, practised and revised with military precision.
“Football’s beauty is in the struggle,” Wilson wrote in a later article, “in the fact that a weaker side, through diligence, industry and clever tactics, can hold off a stronger one. That means that often there aren’t flicks and tricks and hatfuls of goals.”
There may be a strange sort of glory in a weaker team keeping the giants at bay and going away happy with a scoreless draw, but a truth still remains. Put the tactical complications to one side. To win the game, you must score.
Tongue-in-cheek as his comments probably were—his words now adorn t-shirts and are a regular topic of debate in interviews and discussions—they actually serve to highlight the importance of the goal.
If the old adage “it only takes a second to score a goal” is true, then the 90 minutes that make up a football match seem like an age.
And yet, thanks to the tactical struggles, the star-performances of goalkeepers, the missed chances by strikers, the last-ditch tackles and more, goals in football are so celebrated due to their scarcity.
A side could dominate position, never be in danger of losing the game and pepper the opposition’s net with shots but still only win 1-0.
Score the opening goal with only 10 minutes remaining? Those ten minutes may seem to take forever to pass but there is a good chance that the game is won.
Victor Industrie Services GmbH produces a wide range of scoreboards for various sports. For football, there is the “SportsScorer” to help keep a record of the precious commodity that goals are. After all, without keeping score, a match would be relegated to being merely a “kick-about.”
Goals may just be one part of a simple game that has become more complicated over time, but they are the most important part—and the most memorable.
The sights: the bicycle-kick, the 30-yard screamer, the last-minute glancing header, the fumbling goalkeeper, the forlorn defender sliding in to clear too late.
The sounds: a glorious “swoosh” as the ball rushes, spinning in to the net or the “thwack” as the underside of the crossbar is hit before the ball continues its journey across the goal line.
The celebrations: rocking-the-baby, removing the shirt, a simple wave, a beating of the chest or dancing like a robot.
We hope that you will join us as we aim to celebrate all of the aspects that come together to create that split second of sporting divinity with a regular look at “The Anatomy of a Goal.”