In defence of Goalkeepers

30 11 2012

In yesterday’s post I used the word “Hapless” twice. I’m sorry to say that both comments were related to goalkeepers. As a subs paying, card carrying member of the GK Union (6-a-side branch) I would like to apologise to my comrades for the usage of this word. I’m truly sorry goalkeeping brethren.

I am profoundly sorry but there are mitigating circumstances; my environment has a lot to answer for. I was brought up to read newspapers, listen to radio broadcasts and watch television programmes. These media outlets employ people that have a habit of describing goalkeepers as “Hapless”. With this upbringing what chance did I have? I’ve been a cultural dupe but the media’s message is so seductive. I’m truly truly sorry, really profoundly sorry.

In the light of this behaviour I’m going to state my intention to undertake some solemn undertakings; firstly I will fight my upbringing and never use the word “Hapless” in such a casual fashion again. Secondly, I will take issue with the usage of the word “Hapless” within the context of football. Thirdly I will try to reclaim the word. Hopefully I will be able to make amends.

According to an online dictionary of no renown “Hapless” means “Luckless” or “Unfortunate” but football doesn’t recognise the validity of this definition; when a team loses a match to a last minute goal in extra time they are never labelled as “Hapless” whereas a goalkeeper that lets in eight goals is labelled like that.

When football uses the word “Hapless” psychological baggage is added. One is put in mind of “a clown”, “a buffoon”, “a terrible keeper”, “a pathetic individual”, ” a mistake-ridden twat” or even  “a pisspoor example of humanity”. Here are just a few examples;

Example 1The Guardian

Is it illogical to heap blame on England’s HAPLESS goalkeepers?

England keepers are born to fail at the World Cup.

…….In midweek David James had another headline moment of misfortune, committing what BBC radio described as “a goalkeeping howler with the World Cup just 79 days away”, as though this in itself were news, evidence of some vital oversight or preparation-deficit…………However it ends the goalkeeper will curate our last moments: that sigh, the flailing arm, the idiot grin, all etched indelibly in an iconography of failure. And to be honest they seem pretty ready to me.

Example 2Daily Mail

Blundering Gomes to go as Tottenham boss Redknapp loses faith in HAPLESS keeper

Tottenham have finally lost patience with Heurelho Gomes after the goalkeeper’s latest howler on Wednesday night against

Real Madrid………

Example 3This is

Exeter vs Bristol Rovers: Krysiak blunder costs Exeter

Bristol Rovers picked up their first victory of the season with a 2-1 win at Exeter City, but they were given a helping hand by HAPLESS goalkeeper Artur Krysiak……..

That came back to haunt them as Krysiak allowed a soft shot by Rovers striker Elliot Richards to slip through his hands at his near post on 69 minutes for Rovers to get their maiden win.

Example 4Metro

Keeper Virgil Vries suffers ‘worst ever fail’ in South African league match

Namibian goalkeeper Virgil Vries’ mistake in the South African league, where he concedes a goal by falling over a seemingly harmless back-pass, has been dubbed the ‘worst ever goalkeeper fail’ by internet users around the world

The Golden Arrows keeper was left embarrassed after he inexplicably let a slow pass from defender Robyn Johannes through his legs and into an empty net.

The Arrows had been in contention to win the match before the keeper made the mistake that led to his team losing 2-1 to fellow ABSA Premiership team Amazulu.

Internet posters were quick to compound the misery for the HAPLESS keeper, arguing that it was probably the worst goalkeeping mistake ever. Youtube user BlackDollarBills said: ‘It’s funny because it’s not just bad, it’s slapstick, the way the ball goes through his legs then a second later he reacts and falls over.’

It’s all about blame, blame, blame. It’s all about the snide laugh at someone’s expense, the cruel comedy of humiliation; ‘It’s funny because it’s not just bad, it’s slapstick…..” All of the cited examples connect “Hapless” with something negative. Only example 1 hints at a connection with misfortune, although the journalist goes on to use words and phrases like “goalkeeping howler” and “failure”.

This leaves a few questions; why has the goalkeeper become the easy scapegoat for society’s ills? When did “mistake” and “misfortune” become mixed up? Why have they become mixed up?

This cultural dereliction has to stop and it has to stop now!!!

Mind you let’s not organise the protest march just yet. It is easy to say that the easy derision of goalkeepers as another disgusting symptom of our scapegoating society but is it too easy? Pardon the pun but maybe it’s time step outside the box. Let us consider the idea that we could be misreading the tone of the commentator. Let us consider the idea that commentators are using “Hapless” in the correct manner. For example they could feel that goalkeepers are constantly placed in an unfortunate position.

Let us consider the idea that commentators secretly understand what a goalkeeper is going through and they want us to understand what being a goalkeeper feels like. I’d like to think that commentators sympathise with goalkeepers because they can see that keepers have become the personification of the inherent unfairness of modern life.

Society needs people to do the unwanted jobs, the dirty jobs, the nasty jobs – the cleaning, the carrying, the serving, the teaching – so altruistic people agree to do these jobs. Unfortunately there is no praise for altruism; there is only silent contempt. A goalkeepers’ lot is even worse; they not only feel compelled to do a job that no-one wants they’re castigated by all and sundry for their choice. Maybe commentators see that goalkeepers face a profoundly unfortunate situation; miniscule rewards yet forensic public attention.

It would be nice to think that commentators are attuned to a goalkeepers’ mental state. Goalkeepers are bound to be thoughtful people, the basic rules of football have an alienating effect; they demand a goalkeeper wears a different coloured jersey and they prevent others players handling the ball. The rules mean that goalkeepers become intrinsically different to other players.

Commentators could understand the pressure a goalkeeper is under; they choose to wear the duty of heroism knowing that the fates will always conspire against them. Commentators could know that a goalkeeper would save every shot if the fates were with them. Commentators should certainly know that goalkeepers are often placed in unfortunate positions by the laxity of so-called teamates.

Maybe the commentators sympathise with goalkeepers because they also detest the fact a goal shatters the innate solitude of the goalkeeper’s milieu. Maybe commentators are also aware of the existential juxtaposition inherent in the position; goalkeepers are part of a team yet have to remain aloof, they’re part of a team yet remain solitary, this is an unfortunate situation.

Well my friends it’s time to look less harshly at goalkeepers, they are not “Hapless”, they are men, they are heroes. Goalkeepers have been some of the best men in the history of the world; Conan-Doyle, Bohr, Camus.

The goalkeeper is stylish. The goalkeeper is cool, calm and collected;


tumblr_lz4ly1CLBU1qfxktpo1_1280 Yashin!

maier_sepp_england725x4_Diashow Maier!

9-EuroTw-34 Viktor!

AA07_05_a Dasayev!

PKT 2785-189175NEVILLE SOUTHALLNeville SouthallWales and Everton. Southall!

These people are not hapless, they are THE foundations upon which football is built. Salute them!!!




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