GALLERY: The weird and wonderful history of goal nets ... really!

From their invention by an Everton fan to Gerard Pique cutting them up, some members of Team 33 are obsessed with goalnets

BY Raf Diallo 13:12 Thursday 11 February 2016, 13:12 11 Feb 2016

Picture by: Stephen Pond / EMPICS Sport

Before the 1890s, phrases like "Back of the Net" would have been met with raised eyebrows (or moustaches given the style at the time) in football circles.

For goals did not come with nets in football early years.

It was only in 1889 when an engineer called John Alexander Brodie was angered by a disallowed goal suffered by his favourite club Everton that the idea came into being.

In 1891, Brodie convinced the FA to trial the concept of putting nets behind goals and we haven't looked back since.

Why am I talking about nets? Well, it came up unprompted at the start of this week's Team 33 like many-a-tangent as Joe Coffey, Adrian Collins and Conor Neville revealed themselves to be more obsessed with goal nets than your average football fan.

You can listen into this week's show on the podcast player:

Preaching to the unconverted, I did learn a thing or two about the yokes which hang off goal frames at least before the days of standardisation.

Chelsea's goalkeeper Kevin Hitchcock dives full length during training before the cup tie against Real Zaragoza in 1995 Picture by: Ross Kinnaird / EMPICS Sport

As Ireland's leading Real Zaragoza fan, Adrian Collins told us, one of the Spanish club's greatest claims to fame are the deep, deep goal nets they once gave a home to.

Indeed, the nets at La Romareda stretch back four metres.

Barcelona's Ronaldinho measures La Romareda's nets behind him for planning permission (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

In another bout of nostalgia, Conor Neville reminded us of just how much "ping" the nets at Wembley give off.

But they were less colourful than the Ipswich goalnets at Portman Road. Their nets were both blue but also a little stanchion that "only went up halfway" as you can see in this clip from 1994:

The colouring of goal nets based on club colours is something we'd love to see more of like Celtic ...

Picture by: Andrew Milligan / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Or Atletico Madrid ...


Atletico's Antoine Griezmann, 2nd left, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League Group C soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Galatasaray at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday Nov. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

"Wembley used to be another one. It never used to settle into the net" as Conor recalled. And he's right about the "boing" effect when the ball hit the nets as can be seen here from the 1990 FA Cup final replay:

And a more recent use for goalnets is Gerard Pique's habit of cutting them up and keeping portions as mementos after major finals.

Off The Ball's European football correspondent Graham Hunter even helped him with this treasure hunt in Johannesburg after Spain's 2010 World Cup final win over the Netherlands as recorded in this extract from his book Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja's Historic Treble...

"Not long afterwards, Gerard Piqué emerges. He is still in his boots, shorts and vest and he has the tiny nail scissors from the first-aid kit in his hand as he marches down the tunnel, toward the pitch. A couple of minutes later he is back, very distressed, demanding of a tournament official: “Where is the goal net? Where have the goal nets gone?”

"When they show precious little interest in his enquiry or even basic politeness to him, he explains to me that he always cuts a souvenir piece of net but, this time, he has been too late. They are gone. I volunteer to join the quest and with the help of a streetwise stadium volunteer kid, we trawl through the entire underbelly of Soccer City.

"Everybody wants a piece of Piqué. The kid has made him promise that there’ll be a reward of a Spain shirt in this for him, but when the extent of his inside knowledge turns out to be how to get to the vehicle tunnel to the pitch, Piqué very nearly eats him alive. Then we mistakenly burst in on a room where the take for the food, programmes and refreshments is being counted. Finally, we persuade the security into letting us into the stadium manager’s office.

"Yes, says one member of staff, the nets are here.

"No, says one another, you can’t have even a couple of centimetres from them. But, while we’ve got you here, can we have a picture? An autograph?

"They are now dealing with an increasingly angry 6’3″ World Cup winner. As he poses for yet another photograph with staff who are not helping him in his quest for a memento, he turns to me and says, in Spanish: “I’ll punch him, we’ll grab the nets and make a run for it.” Instead, the stadium manager finally arrives, as do some tournament staff. It ends in a net gain."


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