What to do when you’ve scored that ‘goalden’ goal? Unrestrained joy? Modest acceptance of the crowd’s adulation? Or… a rehearsed routine?
It’s never been much of a problem for me (cow’s backside/banjo syndrome) but has to cross the mind of the part-timer/professional in that second or two as the crowd rise to their feet in joy.
*Quick detour: by all accounts, Iceland is a beautiful place – I’m not talking frozen food emporium but the volcanic Nordic country. I have been to the former (the prawn platter is a treat) but sadly not to the latter. If you ask most people what they know of the country, most would probably say the angry volcano with the unpronounceable name and maybe the music of Bjork or Sigur Rós. If anyone came up with the name Halldór Orri Björnsson**, I would buy them a bottle of ‘ölvisholt lava’. Note: other Icelandic beers are available.
In the world of football goal celebration, Halldór is probably the master – the Pele of the art form. His antics in the number 10 shirt (the only thing he does share with Pele) along with team mates at Stjarnan FC in front of one man and his dog would have remained largely unknown but for the power of the modern internet age.
Online compilations of classic choreographed routines such as ‘the toilet’, ‘the fighter’ and ‘the birth’ are well worth a look. They clearly invested a lot of time and trouble in their planning and execution.
For a brief period in English football, such mass routines began to emerge; the Jimmy Bullard led Hull effort at the Etihad springs to mind instantly. However, possibly discouraged by those in higher positions within clubs, such spectacles seemed to have all but fizzled out to be replaced by less imaginative efforts.
We’re all familiar with the knee slider, the raised shirt or just the aggressive fist pump. The towering somersault/back-flip is always athletically impressive but the recent tragic case of an Indian player (Peter Biaksangzuala) damaging his spine in such a display and subsequently dying is a stark warning for such bravado.
Personally, I was always a fan of Alan Shearer’s minimalist straight arm raised to the sky, although it had the possibility for fascistic misinterpretation.
The best ones defy description as they are produced by the sheer enormity of the moment – no ordinary, run of the mill goal but that absolutely pivotal net buster which clinches a title or promotion, preferably in the last minute of added on time.
Classics in this category include Michael Thomas at Anfield (his body subsequently contorted into a bizarre twisting motion), Sergio Aguero against QPR, Beckham’s last gasper against Greece and our very own Simeon Jackson against Derby followed by the frenzied ruck in the corner.
All were just sheer emotional outbursts with no pattern or design. Just completely free form works of art which will always live long in the memory.
For the supporter, I guess it’s a question of personal taste as to which type is favourite. Certainly any celebration is better than none.
The ‘consideration to former club’ no show is irritating, although Frank Lampard’s against Chelsea seemed fair enough as he had been at Stamford Bridge for a footballing lifetime and is the club’s all-time leading scorer. But any other criteria for the eyes down, embarrassed shuffle back to the half way line just doesn’t cut it. I’ve never quite managed to forgive Wes after that goal at Villa last season. That was in a class of its own – he was embarrassed to celebrate in front of a club he wanted a transfer to!
Another manifestation of the pre-planned celebration which cuts no mustard with me is the messaged t-shirt, usually because it’s done by a South American in his native language which I have not studied to a sufficient level to understand. At least Balotelli had the decency to put his in English although the answer to his question was obvious to all…”because you’re an idiot!”
What lies in the future? What crazy antics can we expect to burst briefly into life before fizzling out?
For sure the efforts of Halldór in the chilly rock strewn Icelandic landscape have set a ridiculously high standard which are not likely to be rivaled in terms of their attention to detail on a mass scale. Colombia’s ‘dance-athon’ routine in the World Cup was a groovy effort but still lacked any genuine ‘x-factor’.
With the current price of tickets, I believe that the paying customer has every right to expect a goal scoring hero to do more than just look pleased with himself while giving a team mate a piggyback. Maybe it should become a legal requirement for the player of any club to celebrate a goal in a manner befitting the nickname of their respective club. Now for our team, that means something Canary-related – maybe ‘The Flap’ or ‘The Cage’. I leave it to your imagination to picture what might be involved in them.
Wouldn’t it be fun to see what might happen at Wycombe (The Chairboys), Watford (The Hornets) or Hartlepool (The Monkey Hangers), not to mention The Cobblers (Northampton Town)?
**Halldór has now moved to a Swedish club. Sadly, I don’t think his new team mates are quite so keen to assist him in his goal-celebrating ‘artistry’.