5 April ~ In Germany, you receive no recognition for scoring a hat-trick merely by virtue of notching three goals in a game. As though wishing to preserve the rarity value of a term that originates from cricket – where three consecutive wickets are seldom, but celebrated – the Germans only talk of hat-tricks using the adjective lupenrein, meaning “flawless”. All the goals must be scored consecutively, and in the same half. Even with such a qualification, however, this past weekend saw an unusual proliferation of flawless scoring feats.

Although Wayne Rooney arguably besmirched his flawless hat-trick by cursing into a TV camera immediately after scoring three uninterrupted second-half goals in 14 minutes at West Ham, his achievement was pure by the German definition. Likewise St Mirren’s English striker Michael Higdon, who also scored a German-approved second half hat trick in a 3 -1 comeback win over Hamilton.

Norwich’s Simeon Jackson was clearly disgusted by his team-mate Grant Holt’s failure to score a pure hat-trick against Scunthorpe. Holt’s three consecutive goals were distastefully spread either side of half-time, so Jackson stepped up to show him the virtues of clean scoring by whacking in three straight over the final 15 minutes of the 6-0 hammering at Carrow Road. Any arguments over possession of the match ball will be settled by a stern Teutonic judge.

Up in Crewe, things were messier still. The two hat-tricks scored by the home team’s Clayton Donaldson and Joel Grant in the 8-1 win over Cheltenham were all over the place, and way too poorly co-ordinated to be garlanded with the label “pure”. One might even be moved to describe their hat-tricks as offensive to the very ideal of netting three goals. What were they thinking?

Over in Italy, Napoli’s free-scoring Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani (with 30 goals in all competitions this season, including three hat-tricks) had a pure hat-trick for Napoli in the 4-3 win over Lazio denied thanks to an own goal from his team-mate Salvatore Aronica. Thanks, mate. But the real scoring heroes of the weekend were the players who scored four unanswered goals in a single half, and away from home too. Step forward Valencia’s Roberto Soldado (four goals in 23 second-half minutes in a 4-2 win at Getafe) and Barnet’s Steven Kabba (likewise four second-half strikes in his side’s 4-1 win at Burton Albion). Yet they have no name for their feats.

OK, they scored hat-tricks, but when you’ve scored four, no one actually calls it a hat-trick. Arguably, they scored two hat-tricks, if you take goals one to three, and goals two to four, as separate sequences. But only if you score six goals are you credited with a double hat-trick.

It seems very strange that in almost a century and a half of football, no one has come up with a term to celebrate the scoring of four goals (or five) in a game. It’s as though there’s a lingering amateur ethos that says scoring three is jolly good, but four or more is rather unsporting because it humiliates the opposition.

A “double brace” sounds unwieldy. A “foursome” sounds kinky, a “four-flush” too scatological, and a “fourscore” would mean, strictly interpreted, that a striker would have scored 80 times in a game. A “tetralogy” sounds a mite pretentious. Sadly, it’s probably too late now for a term to evolve that will encompass “four goals scored in a game of football by one player”.

The Germans, of course, do have a name for it, a “four pack”, but to British ears that sounds like what you buy at the offie after closing time on your way to a party. Scoring more than three seems barely worth the effort, as nothing can top the romanticised mythology of the hat-trick, either pure or tainted. Still, for the sake of Kabba and Soldado, who both did better than Wayne Rooney on Saturday, let’s hear a round of applause for the quadrantal point accumulators. Ian Plenderleith

Comments (9)
Comment by bearlion 2011-04-05 11:01:39

What about the left foot-right foot-header hat-trick? Gabriel Agbonlahor scored one against Man City on the first day of the 2008-09 season

Comment by Jonny_Bananas 2011-04-05 11:55:16

Does this mean the German's don't accept Geoff Hurst's 1966 Hat Trick, being as the final two goals were scored outside the regular match and nearly 90 minutes after his first?

Comment by imp 2011-04-05 12:56:45

bearlion, funnily enough I think that is the 'perfect' hat-trick, only referred to here in the headline. I didn't want to confuse things by adding that in. I would call that more of a curious side-stat - there's no extra merit in scoring the goals with different parts of your body. Then again, a left-foot, right-foot, header hat-trick (do they have to be in any particular order!?), scored consecutively and in the same half would have to go down as The Ultimate Hat-Trick. Ian.

Comment by darkblueturbo 2011-04-05 13:29:18

Going back to it's cricket roots, four wickets in four balls is known as a "double hattrick".
So why not in football...?

Comment by wittoner 2011-04-05 13:34:31

I remember the old school sports reporter in our local newspaper when I was a boy used to describe the scoring of 5 goals as "going nap", a term that I think originates from a card game. He usually applied it to teams scoring 5 but I suppose it would apply equally to an individual.
Funnily enough, he always used to delight in pointing out that only consecutive goals constituted a "real" hat-trick.
I don't think even he had an expression for 4 goals however.

Comment by The Exploding Vole 2011-04-05 17:14:38

If three goals is a hat-trick, four goals could be a snood-trick.

Comment by jameswba 2011-04-06 08:01:23

I remember reading an interview with ex Bristol Rovers striker Paul Randall in a football annual from (I think) 1978 where he recalled scoring a left-foot, right-foot, header hat-trick and said it had given him extra satisfaction. Somehow, in the way things do when you read them as a 9 year-old, those words stuck with me and I've regarded such hat-tricks as just slightly 'superior' to other types ever since.

I guess you're right that there's not really any extra merit in them though they do at least suggest that the player concerned can shoot (or tap into an empty net) with both feet and head the ball. With some players, even at the highest levels, you sometimes wonder..

Comment by dennis 2011-04-06 12:18:24

I second the concept of "going nap", and I suspect from Wittoner's username that he first saw it in the Birmingham Sports Argus just like me. I think it relates to bidding to win all five tricks in a hand of whist.

The French, or more specifically L'Equipe, in their dry and prosaic (but by no means less insightful) match reporting style, simply use "triplé, quadruplé, quintuplé" and so on.

Comment by dab 2011-04-07 00:20:33

Here in Canada three goals scored in succession is called a "natural hat trick". Still more popular is a "Gordie Howe hat trick" in hockey - it consists of a goal, an assist and a fight!

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