Monday, 5 May 2014

Pre-planned goalscorers' celebrations should be followed by a slap across the face and a three-match ban

The thumb-suck’s the one that really gets my goat. Followed closely by the one  where the finger is placed against the lips in “shhhh!” gesture. Then there’s various bits of business with the corner flag (dancing or shadow-boxing). And the revelation of an undershirt with a slogan on it underneath ("Jogger’s Nipple Awareness Week" or whatever). And, of course, the ever-popular unison baby-rocking motion.

Let’s not forget the robotic dancing response made popular by Peter Crouch. And the  Jurgen Klinsmann-inspired full-frontal dive, often accompanied by team-mates doing the same thing. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing young multi-millionaires giving some form of Nazi salute? Or, in the case of Wayne Rooney, screaming “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” into the nearest available television camera (which is what most England fans feel like screaming into his face during the vast majority of his lacklustre international performances)?

I think what’s spectacularly annoying about most of the above is the element of pre-planning involved. Whereas I suspect that most people of my age would prefer to see goals followed by a manly handshake or a pat on the back and a murmured  “Well done!” from a team-mate, I’m sure that we’d forgive a purely spontaneous expression of joy such as a back-flip or arms and face raised to the heavens in gratitude – even the odd hug with team-mates – especially if the goal is a significant one in a crucial match. But the fact that the player has evidently been thinking about how he will celebrate scoring a goal beforehand – he might even have been practicing it in front of a mirror in one of the many bathrooms in his hideous new-build Cheshire mansion – smacks of hubris.

Personally, I respond to the sort of emotional understatement that used to be such a feature of life in Britain. For instance, one of the most touching aspects of Andy Murray’s success at the US Tennis Open in 2012 – his first grand slam title – was his sheer bewilderment after Djokovic’s final shot landed a few inches beyond the baseline: Murray must have dreamed of that moment since he was a child, but he had wasted no time planning his response, and was evidently awed by his achievement.

After a goal has been scored, I enjoy seeing the crowd's reaction – not that of the players. After all, the fans at the match are the ones who keep a club going, who buy the season tickets, who travel to crappy, post-industrial dumps on freezing, scowling  days and sit in the pouring rain as teams of extravagantly-remunerated foreigners slog it out in a desperate bid to gain that point to lift them out of the relegation zone. The fans can stick their thumbs in their mouths as much as they want – the next time a player does it, I suggest the captain slaps them across the face to calm them down, the manager bollocks them in his post-match Sky interview, and that the authorities impose a three-match ban.


  1. There is a precedent for your excellent idea of a suspension. I think Robbie Fowler got a match ban for sniffing the white line of the penalty box in celebration. Occasionally, one of them gets it wrong. In the 2002 World Cup, Robbie Keane had carefully rehearsed a goal celebration which culminated in seeking out the nearest camera and firing an imaginary arrow, no doubt to emphasise the precision of his marksmanship. Unfortunately, he had not let his teammates in on the plan and found himself bundled away by a bunch of happy Irishmen before he could complete the process, leaving him looking a bit of a prat..

    The greatest goal celebration of all time was in the 1981 European Cup final. Alan Kennedy, not a noted net-bulger, was so surprised at scoring what turned out to be the winner that he had no idea what to do. He ran about 10 feet looking puzzled, stopped, jumped an inch in the air and that was it. It became famous but sadly no one has seen fit to repeat it.

    1. I've always enjoyed Diego Maradona's humble, "shucks, it was nothing" reaction to scoring goals - the hallmark of a true gentleman.

    2. The definition of a true gentleman obviously includes the right to vary the rules of Association Football to allow basketball techniques whenever your status as a genius so decides.