THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

12 December ~ All right-thinking people must now accept that one thing in football has gone too far: the goal celebration. What started out as relatively innocent expressions of joy have now decayed into utterly self-regarding displays of egotism. I very rarely did much good on a football field, but I would have been miffed if I beat two players to cross it for a team-mate to tap in, and was then, in the act of congratulating him, handed-off like an inept rugby defender so my colleague could sprint 40 yards in order to gesticulate at the press box.

Other players have taken to the field with masks and other props secreted about their person in case they score, and now we have the spectacle of the YouTube celebration. Teams, one in Iceland in particular it seems, are designing group tableaux as celebrations, I guess with the explicit intent of getting themselves seen on web video sites. We’ve had players pretending to have heart attacks, be involved in kung-fu fights and. probably most famously, be a fish caught by an angler and held up for display. So one team indulges itself in the most puerile sort of horseplay while 11 other players, three officials and at least half the crowd stand there getting wet or cold and wishing they’d just get on with it.

I realise that many people like to see players go mad after a goal. Some even like to see a player show "emotion" by ripping off his shirt and jumping into the crowd. So I have the perfect solution. After a goal players should be allowed to celebrate in any manner they choose: shirt removing, 80-yard sprints, syncopated Busby Berkeley routines, anything they like. But the game should restart as soon as the conceding team can get the ball back to the centre circle – no matter what the scoring side are doing, or how ready or unready they may be. And buying time by pinching the ball from the net and kicking it into the stands will be punishable by a yellow card.

So if Rio Ferdinand wants to run the length of the pitch to make sure he’s on top of the huddle and thus most prominent in the photographs or Icelandic footballers want to re-enact the invasion of Normandy, all in the name of "emotion" and celebration, they can. I will enjoy the sight of their opponents kicking off and charging through a four-man defence towards goal, while the goalkeeper goes mad at his gleeful attackers who are having group sex somewhere near the corner flag.

There’d be no need for what some see as petty rules on provocation, pundits wouldn’t have to castigate referees for applying the letter of the law; but I and those like me would see more of the football we’d paid for or, at worst, comedy goals which quickly wipe the smiles from players going on as if they’d conquered K2 when they’ve shinned one in form four feet. That, I believe, is called a win-win. Aled Thomas

Comments (8)
Comment by Jobi1 2010-12-12 10:50:03

Absolutely fantastic idea. Hopefully would mean we would see more of this -

- and well done to the ref in this case for just letting the other team get on with it while Mr Butt was still waving to the crowd an indulging his massive ego

Comment by jb5000 2010-12-12 12:11:09

What utter bilge, the goalkeeper in the video does nothing but run back to his goal whilst receiving high fives from his teammates. If that's an over the top celebration, I'm an Iclandic man. And the ref should be hung, drawn and quartered for allowing it.

Comment by jodymoylan 2010-12-12 14:22:58

The 'Bah Humbug' is out in force in this piece. Completely ridiculous - it's part of the game and, forgive the cliche, harmless fun. Watching a bore-fest between, say, Liverpool v Stoke on a Tuesday in November is one thing, but watching Jones score a peach in front of the Kop with not a hint of emotion would be offensive frankly. And you would need a heart of stone not to chuckle at a grown man pretending to pee like a dog.

Comment by donedmundo 2010-12-12 14:37:28

How I agree with the sentiments expressed here. I don't know where jodymoylan gets the idea that this is 'part of the game'. It isn't. And 'fun' for whom? Emotion is fine. Lots of it. These choreographed epics are nothing to do with emotion. The essence of emotion is spontaneity. There's no spontaneity here. I am all for more refs ignoring these 'celebrations' and getting on with the game. I watch football matches to be entertained by the football. This stuff leaves me cold.

Comment by imp 2010-12-12 18:42:33

Teams, one in Iceland in particular it seems, are designing group tableaux as celebrations, I guess with the explicit intent of getting themselves seen on web video sites.

And dang if it hasn't worked again! I must admit that, while empathising with the curmudgeonly tone of the rant, I did enjoy the fishing video.

Comment by Coral 2010-12-14 11:55:19

That boring pillock from Wayne Rooney Street Striker (not Rooney, the other one) was signed up to help the South African players work on a celebration. So rather than the spontaneous joy at scoring the first goal in your countries first ever and only world cup we had some rehearsed tosh.

Comment by Up4thejamboree 2010-12-14 15:01:11

The only permitted celebrations should be the Zenden dance and the Ray Houghton forward roll.

Comment by Jobi1 2010-12-16 12:55:00

@jb5000 I think I maybe didn't quite express myself as I meant to. I agree the celebration wasn't over the top, but it's just the egotistical fact of the goalkeeper taking the penalty in the first place, thereby putting himself in the situation he allowed himself to get into (while celebrating and waving to the crowd). Is Hans-Jorg seriously such an amazing penalty taker that there are no outfield players capable of doing the job just as well as him? Of course not, it's obsurd, he is just desperate for a bit more of the limelight and as far as I'm concerned got exactly what he deserved in that instance!

Related articles

To celebrate or not to celebrate?
6 October 2009 ~ Manchester City chief executive Garry Cook's Wikipedia page states that he had the new indoor ticket office built at Eastlands...
Celebrations wind up fans
Tuesday 1 September ~ It's been creeping back into the game, as anyone who goes to matches will know. Most of us prefer to pretend that we haven...
Celebrate!
Tuesday 4 March ~ Goal celebrations are almost invariably naff. After he'd scored for Everton against Portsmouth on Sunday, Yakubu performed...