IAN McFARLANE reveals all about his secret obsession…
Ian McFarlane’s secret obsession
THROUGH a passion for football since 1992, there have been many things that have envigorated and encapsulated my love for the game. The strangest, however, has to be goal nets.
They are a forgotten but vastly important part of the game, not just scenery.
For one thing, they help to stop the debate of whether a goal has been scored or not. They also, in my opinion, can make a good goal look even more spectacular.
Think back to your favourite goals of all time, then just reflect on how the net itself in one way or another played its part in making them look even better.
The first goal nets started to be manufactured in 1891 to help decipher whether a goal had been scored or not, minimising controversy.
Through the decades, the popular model was the diagonal (standard) goal net fashion. This was the cheaper alternative, until the boxed net trend started and today nearly every top league side around the world sport this design.
The square design is held back by two or three pole-like devices known as stanchions.
I feel, and many believe, that this net alternative came to global prominence from the World Cup in Mexico 1986, where they were housed at most venues.
Now they are common-place throughout the world. This takes me back to the mid-90s when I would drive my late Grandmother mad by relaying the most recent sides to be sporting boxed goal nets!
There is also a part of me that loves the more obscure goal net designs we have seen throughout the years.
For instance, through the 80s and most of the 90s, Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park sported a bold mixture of both the standard and boxed designs.
Loftus Road, home of QPR, had goal nets which many believe were the prototype on which Subbuteo based theirs.
However, come the 1995/96 season, they had resorted back to standard diagonal nets.Yet they then went back to the subbuteo style again in the 2000s.
The Dell, the former ground of Southampton, had, for want of a better term, 'hockey style goals'. They had them for as far back as I can remember up until the closure of the historic ground in 2001.
I feel they had to have this style based upon a lack of room, the fans were so close to the pitch so it's all they could use.
I feel a little bad for Matt Le Tissier, as The Dell nets didn't do justice to a lot of his beautiful goals.
The old Wembley was a treat through the years with its very own semi-oval net designs, all the goals scored during the period of use given even more of a profile within its unique demographic.
This was scrapped in 1997 for the boxed concept. The new Wembley has continued the same trend, only with further distance between goal-line and back of net.
I still have two minor grumbles on the subject of nets today. We now predominantly see boxed nets everywhere, making goals look even better.
Yet clubs add another dimension to unintentionally make goals look less spectacular, this being coloured goal nets.
Ok, it's always been used, I can even understand why to a degree. Clubs want to show their colours in as many areas as possible.
However, why oh why did Manchester City use black nets for a period. The colour black, to my knowledge, has no relevance to City. Also, think how much better Sergio Aguero's historic goal against QPR in May 2012 would have been if you could have seen it hit the back of the net better.
My other gripe is nets not being pinned down properly – they shouldn’t rise when the ball hits the back of the net.
I expect this to not be adhered to as rigorously in the amateur game, however the biggest offenders for not pinning down goal nets are 'the mighty' Manchester United and Sunderland.
Sort it out, guys, you play at too high a level to let this happen. It looks shabby and tacky.
I had to share my obscure little obsession, so thanks for reading.
I hope some of you may, after reading this, look at the part the net plays in a scorcher or a 'netbuster'.
Of course, the scorer is the one to be acclaimed, though the netting is the inanimate assistant, in my opinion.