Monday, 1 February 2016

The battle of the bulge

Blackburn and Bury have both been in FA Cup action this weekend and theirs are magnificent. Manchester City’s and Liverpool’s are horrid. 

Man City, standard net, San Siro 70s and lower league net

The net. The onion bag. This is important stuff. The ball has to nestle in the goal. There used to be nets at the San Siro in Rome where the net just hung down. When Italy scored yet another goal against England in a qualifier I had to begrudgingly admit that it looked sublime. 

But Manchester City and Liverpool may as well have iron hanging down from the goals. When someone scores, it really does take away from the moment. Blackburn and Bury have done a clever thing. It’s the newer, bigger net that has become Premier League / Championship standard over the last few years, but there’s some added girth/ slack so that ball nestles in nicely. 

All sides in the Premier League and championship have those standard nets, but most are still pretty tight for my liking. Manchester City and Liverpool’s are painted in their colours, so you don’t see any buoyancy. You just get a nasty dull thud. 

Back in the 1970s, Wembley, Chelsea, QPR and West Ham all had tight nets. Most other grounds had the net hanging down from two stanchions; many lower league teams still adopt this beautiful thing. Lots of nestling possibilities. 

I’m sure that Chelsea once had a goal ruled out because the referee thought the ball had hit the post. In fact, it had actually rebounded back from a terrifically-tight net. (This is the opposite of a ghost-goal)

Millwall had a lovely set of nets last season. Loose as anything, with a bit of blue in. Pleasing to the eye. They’ve now reverted to the standard, bigger net with moderate give. 6/10.

There are more important things in life, obviously. But the whole point of football, our number one sport in the UK, is to run down the pitch and get the ball in the goal. If it looks great, doesn’t that make us all feel a little bit better? Thank you Blackburn and Bury. I hope they're bulging with pride. 


  1. I like the kind of net that they had in the Nep Stadium in Budapest in 1981, when Trevor Brooking's belter of a shot got stuck in the top corner stanchion. Marvellous!