The greatest goal ever?

Rooney's goal - a shinner, not a shiner

Last week celebrated chav/granny baiter Wayne Rooney scored a wonder goal for Manchester United and as such, prompted a debate (at least in my head) about the greatest ever goal.

We all know Rooney’s strike was a straightforward shinner so his effort is out of the picture, but if you are particularly bothered about this there’s still a number of others to choose from – Maradona’s World Cup goal against England, Ryan Giggs’ goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup, Trevor Sinclair’s bicycle kick for QPR, David Beckham’s long-range shot against Wimbledon, Dennis Bergkamp’s lucked-in goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup, Eddie Gray’s superlative individual goal against Burnley etc, etc, etc.

Now, I am sorry America and a large part of the female population who, quite frankly, couldn’t care less, but as an Englishman (we invented the ruddy game, Brazil) I feel it quite appropriate to set the record straight and deliver nothing more than fact when one considers this particularly taxing issue.

Although you can see from the video footage that Eddie Gray’s goal is pretty close I am happy (and proud) to tell you that the prize for the greatest ever goal goes to me.

Yes, there is no video evidence to back this fact up, and yes, I have chosen an unlikely candidate, but I can offer an extremely impartial description that should help you along with your decision to wholeheartedly agree with me.

It was in the early 80s and I was captain for Bushey Hall School’s B-team for a spell – a hallowed period that prompted the most attractive girls in the fourth year to sew a football-based tapesty, where admittedly I feature very heavily, as the school sought to remember the glory days of that particularly season. I don’t like to admit it but it is a great tribute, largely to me, and it still resides in pride of place in the school’s store cupboard. It gets dusted down every now and then, I understand.

Anyway, that’s not the point (hello Ruth Gordon/Cathy Southern, I hope you’re both doing well), the magic occurred in a key local derby with Bushey Meads’ second-stringers where I secured victory with a piece of individual brilliance that is still being talked about today.

Ok, so I’m the only one talking about it but let’s not get picky.

It was midway through the second half when I picked up the ball from the halfway line. I looked up and viewed a potential passage through the packed Meads’ defence. With a fleet of foot I dodged and weaved past five defenders with a series of leg-blurring stepovers before side-footing into the right-hand corner just inches past the outstretched arm of the desperate Meads’ goalkeeper.

On completion of the goal I ran to the byline, pumped my fist in face of the Meads’ coach telling him, in no uncertain terms that he could, if he so wished, suck my fat one.

The celebration was empassioned and I have few regrets about it even though it resulted in a series of detentions, a rather surprisingly blunt end to my school playing career and much line-writing that went something like: ‘I must not behave like a twat when representing my school’ but I am still pleased with my actions and I should point out that the very draconian sanctions taken against me were borne totally out of jealousy.

So that’s it. You can have your Rooney bicycle kicks and your Giggs’ wonder goals, but we all know that the greatest ever goal came from my fair boot.

I hope that clears that up.

N.B. Other suggestions surrounding this very important issue are welcome but they will, of course, be wrong unless they concur with the above.

N.B.B . Mr Reynolds – I know where you live.

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Life begins at 40

I suffered at the hands of another birthday this week and it means I am now well into my… don’t go there… but this latest milestone I endured did prompt some thought on the totally inappropriate expression:  ‘Life begins at 40′.

'Dude, it's your 40th birthday next week'

In fact, life begins at 0 but let’s not be pedantic. One suspects this ridiculous expression was conjured up by a person who turned 40 and wanted to deflect some pain. Life absolutely doesn’t begin at 40 and as you may have gathered, I’m in a good position to present a cogent argument.

The reality is this: when you do, or if you have hit 40 you’ll have experienced some disappointment along the way and perhaps a few too many nights consisting of Friends reruns.

Conversely, turning 30 is a breeze. It’s like experiencing proper adulthood. At this point you are sensitive to house parties turning flat and have trained yourself to leave at their peak. You don’t have to go to nightclubs anymore and as an individual you have become aware of your strengths and, more importantly, your weaknesses. You know more but realise that you know very little.

You’re starting to understand that you need to spend over £7 to get a decent bottle of wine. You also appreciate the value of drinking out of clean glasses and how to get stains out of cream-coloured carpets. You’ve learned to book in advance to avoid disappointment and you have started wearing good quality underwear. You don’t expect people to drink out of plastic cups and you’ve moved on from culinary atrocities such as tuna bake and jars of quick’n’easy pasta sauce. You’ve learned that Skins is not entertainment.

Then 10 years pass.

Now things are a little more complicated. You’ve got some grey hairs, the career hasn’t quite delivered what you’ve expected, relationships have become more difficult, the gym is an unpleasant necessity and snoring becomes the norm. Then at this seminal moment – your 40th birthday – you receive a glitter-covered card depicting balloons and a sozzled ‘comedy’ character raising what looks to be a Martini glass, complete with bubbles and japes. The card reads ‘Life begins at 40!’

Go get the gun.

The ‘character’ depicted isn’t much fun at all and one might be forgiven to for thinking that this is merely an attempt at prophecy fired at you straight from the caption writers at Hallmark who have tracked your life from birth. It’s like The Truman Show but nobody’s that good-looking.

The phrase ‘Life Begins at 40’ is wholly offensive. Let’s take 40 for what it is: a starting block for old age and a training ground for belligerence, senility, impotence, incontinence and, ultimately, death.

Next week: the joy of colostomy bags.

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Boney M – German?

The Boners

Yesterday I learned that Boney M’s Rivers of Babylon is in the top five UK best selling singles list of all time. That really, is little surprise since I cannot remember the last time I tuned into a local radio station and not heard this immensely catchy tune about a place where people, apparently, sit down.

No, the real surprise, is the band’s origin. For years I, like many, assumed that this highly successful 70s pop trio was from America until somebody (I don’t know who) revealed that they came from Germany.

It was a terrible piece of news.

I liked Boney M. I liked the fact that they had the chutzpah to allow a man wearing unbearably small shorts and a disastrously rhomboidal haircut to be the front man for a disco outfit that, alarmingly, may well appeal to children.

Maybe it was just me, or maybe it was because we didn’t have the internet in those days, but I bet a fair few of us who shook their bones quixotically to the funky beats of Daddy Cool, Rasputin or Brown Girl in the Ring (never sounds quite right does it?) just assumed that the Boners (sorry) came from somewhere cool like New Orleans, LA, New York or Chicago.

I feel cheated over all this, and although I should have noticed that unmistakable German lilt during the talking bit in Rasputin, nobody took the trouble to point this out. It’s all a thorough disappointment and now that I am aware of the true origins of this band I simply cannot go out in my favourite, silver testicle-hugging shorts again.

It is, I accept, a powerful image.

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