From the Thinking Strange Thoughts series
Anyone who has watched a game of soccer, will have noticed that whenever a goal as been scored, there as always been a bit of hugging and kissing amongst the players. Over the years, the after game celebrations have increased a bit and now include such things as, dancing, blowing kisses to the crowd and my own personal favourite, where the goal scorer throws himself prostate onto the ground and his team-mates pile on top of him until he almost suffocates. It’s as if he is being punished for scoring the goal.
I had not watched a game for awhile, but recently I tuned in to World Soccer on SBS and was amazed to see the progress that has been made in the goal celebrating, infact the events after the goal have now become so sophisticated, that I do not know why they bother with the actual game, it is just distracting from the celebrating. I was especially impressed by the Botswana team. Early in the game, centre forward Ubangy Myeddy,tapped the ball into the net from about two centimetres and all hell broke loose, you would have thought it was the goal of the decade. He immediately commenced several laps of the pitch, accompanied by much dancing and somersaulting. At one point, he leapt into air, landed on his head and started spinning around in circles. Meanwhile his ecstatic team-mates had run to the centre of the pitch, several players linked arms to form a base, then the others climbed onto their shoulders to form a pyramid. Eventually Ubangy joined them, and was lifted onto the top of the pyramid by a ‘cherry picker’ that had been driven onto the pitch. After a fanfare of trumpets, a scantily clad Miss Botswana 1978, walked onto the arena carrying a silver tray on which were three solid gold, replica soccer balls. These were passed up to Ubangy, who commenced juggling them whilst singing the national anthem. Whilst this was taking place, a team of white horses dragged a grand piano on wheels towards the centre circle. It was breathtaking stuff, Ubangy was lifted from the top of the pyramid and placed behind the piano. A hush fell over the crowd as he began playing Bach’s “Air” from Suite No3 in D Major. Now, whilst this is a very moving piece and especially appropriate for funerals, it seemed that Ubangy had completely misjudged the mood of the boisterous crowd, and soon a small riot had broken out and the main stand had been burned down. Reluctantly, after a thirty minute discussion with his manager Ubangy started to play something a bit more upbeat, I think it may have been “Great Balls of Fire”
Anyway, by this time many of the crowd had been forced to leave in order to catch the last bus home, which in Botswana is just after lunch. This was most unfortunate, as they missed Ubangy’s second goal celebrations, which amongst other things included building an exact replica of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the centre of the pitch.
Now you may call me old fashioned, though obviously in a boyishly, good looking sort of way, but I can not help thinking that things have gone a bit far. It was very different, when I was a young, legendary goal scorer. I would volley the ball into the back of the net from about fifty metres, and just acknowledge the rapturous crowd applause with a slight nod of my head, and get on with it. Occasionally, one of my more extrovert team-mates might shake my hand in a manly fashion, but even this was frowned upon.
Another thing you notice now, is when a player gets a slight tap on the leg, the game is held up for about ten minutes whilst a team of surgeons and physios tend to him. I will never forget when George Watkins, our central defender, broke his back in fourteen places and was paralysed from the neck down after an unfortunate tackle. George insisted upon us laying him down in the goal square, so as he could help out in defence, infact it was George’s headed clearance in the last minute which won us the cup.
One more thing I would like to touch upon, is the amount of scandals that players get themselves involved in nowadays. A top sportsman needs to be very careful. I recall Mavis Ramsbottom, pestering me for several weeks to go out with her and eventually I agreed, but it was certainly not followed by a “tell all exposé” in the daily newspapers. There were no lurid headlines in the “News of the World”…. “Legendary Goal scorer in Night of Debauchery”…“he tried to seduce me with a glass of stout and a fish supper.” reveals Miss Ramsbottom.
No , there was none of that, and despite the rumours, I can state quite categorically, that my behaviour that night was absolutely impeccable. I just wish I could say the same for Miss Ramsbottoms.