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Soup of This Day #276: She Loves To Move, She Loves To Groove

December 17, 2012

Bourbon rack house
Bourbon whiskey in barrels whiling away the hours in a rack house. All it needs is a good few years, before it’s bottled and served up as Dutch courage – Photo: Bbadgett, 2011. Bbadgett is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I’m not comfortable with the use of the word ‘courage’ in sport. For me that tag should be reserved for the kind of people who tackle a deranged gunman who has forced his way into a school. The type of courage you’ll find in the NFL today for instance just doesn’t match up to that.

Instead, in a sporting context, I like to refer to someone’s bottle. I guess if you had to define bottle you’d say it was the ability to suppress the churning in your belly, what some people call butterflies, that somehow turns your legs to jelly and your mouth into a desert. As in Sarah has the bottle to take a penalty kick. It’s not courage you see, but there is some bottle required to step up and take a shot for your team.

Which might sound like a vague explanation of the terminology. You can however clarify bottle, mark it in a person to the nth degree.

If you want to test the bottle on a soccer team, you just need to put them into a situation whereby an outfielder needs to pull on some gloves and and take over from an injured goalkeeper – You’ll get instant feedback from the moment it becomes clear that the keeper is out of action.

Some players will start to sidle as surreptitiously as possible out of view. They’ll be looking for something to do, like tie up shoelaces, become 1 with a blade of grass or stretch a calf muscle – Anything really that simultaneously promotes business without attention being drawn.

The stretch gets bonus points because it has the added suggestion of injury and therefore implied unsuitability for the demanding acrobatics a keeper often is forced to perform.

Most players will fall into that category and that’s ok. They’re not really cut out for the role anyway – Keeper’s need confidence and they need to not be a wallflower about it. A good keeper is not hidden away – They are seen, preferably as largely as possible. If a keeper doesn’t have physical size then they might as well be loud and vociferous so as to project blocking power.

Nope, to be a keeper you need to be an extrovert. And you need to be mad. Absolutely barking mad. And angry too. You want to be as angry as all get-out. Angry at the situation that got you there, angry at the opposition, angry at your team-mates, angry at the ball, the grass, the sky and even the failure to find peace in the Middle-East.

You want to be pissed off at it all.

The chosen replacement keeper will be looking everyone in the eye. They will stride over to pick up the gloves with a scowl and they will fix everyone on the team with a hard, promising look.

A look that says: ‘Don’t @#$% up. Do not leave me exposed back here because I swear to whatever God you care to name that I will come off this line to pound the living @#$% out of each and every 1 of you if you so much as falter a nanometre.’

And then they’ll just go ahead and voice all of that for good measure. Usually with a low, almost guttural, resonance that just projects mayhem and ruin if you do @#$% up.

I know this, know about bottle and how it’s not courage, and about the madness of keepers, because I’ve been there. I stood there as a keeper got injured and when the question got asked I took the gloves and parked my malevolent humour between the posts.

And it wasn’t courage on my part. It was bottle. I wanted to know if I had it and so I took those gloves to find out that I did.

It’s a little different in the professional game. For starters most teams carry 2 keepers, with 1 on the bench in case of emergencies.

A good example of this is the Perth Glory Women during their match with Sydney United in Sydney on Saturday just past.

The Glory have taken on England International Carly Telford for the 2012/2013 season. Carly is good, a commanding and confident stopper with great hands and a clearance that is both accurate and long. Earlier this season when Sydney came to Perth she was in fine form, her saves denying good chances for goal and helping Perth to a 3-1 win.

This was revenge of a sorts – In the corresponding encounter in Sydney last season the Glory had been belted 11-0. That though was a shade over a year ago and just 5 players from the Glory had survived through to this latest encounter. 1 of them, Emma Kete was playing for Sydney this time around.

The move seemed to suit her early on. After Lisa De Vanna opened the scoring for the visitors, Sydney pushed for an equaliser. Just past 30 minutes they gained a lucky break when Carly Telford sustained a hand injury. Replacement keeper Zoe Palandri had to come on cold and without much match time to her name this term.

Unfortunately it showed. The stopper fumbled a cross and an easy tap-in allowed Kyah Simon to equalise. Simon had scored the 11th goal a year ago.

Soon after, Kete finally got on the score-sheet of this fixture, giving her new club a 2-1 edge at the half. She and her Sydney team-mates then had the half-time break and a double handful of minutes from the re-start to enjoy the lead. Around the 56th minute though there was a glorious turn-around:

Aivi Luik got the ball rolling into the goals with a strike to equalise. 6 minutes later and the Perth team were ahead and then some – Elisa D’Ovidio had fired in 2 in 2 minutes and the Glory Women were up 2-4.

Crazily, Sydney pulled 1 back a minute later before De Vanna notched up her 2nd and the Glory’s 5th a further 9 minutes on. The die though was still not cast as another 9 minutes later Sydney pulled a goal back and with 9 minutes remaining it was 4-5 to the Western Australian outfit.

In a barnstorming finish it was the Perth team who made the win safe – Kate Gill’s effort in the 87th minute was closely followed by De Vanna’s hat-trick in the 88th to set up an insurmountable 4-7 lead with scant time remaining. There was enough of it though for Sydney to add another in consolation and so this belter of a contest finished 5-7.

Not a good day for keepers then.

I reckon Zoe Palandri and Sian McLaren (Sydney’s keeper) might have been a bit pissed at their respective defences. The purists too will have raised some eyebrows at each of the back-lines – Games that end 5-7 are rarely advertisements for the art of stopping your opponents.

They are however entertaining and both sides deserve credit for having the bottle to keep up the attack. The keepers meanwhile kept dusting themselves off and getting back into the game after each goal – Palandri in particular went into a difficult situation underdone yet did enough to help Perth take the 3 points and retain top spot on the ladder.

That was what I did when I took the gloves the 1st time. I did a creditable job and somehow I was stuck with the gig for the next 4 years. That was 4 years of anger management, hurling abuse and footballs at team-mates and chucking myself at the onrushing feet of attackers with nary a though for the physical outcome.

I’m still a little crazy too. That is the lot of keepers.

This evening The Noah and I had a bit of a kick in the back yard. At 1 point he decided to be a keeper and egged his Dad into kicking towards his goal. It was a tame shot by design but The Noah miscued his attempted clearance and the ball rolled gently into goal. Quick as a flash The Noah summoned his inner keeper crazy and issued a red card.

To the ball.

Which then had to sit out a penalty period perched on a pitch-side chair. To be fair that wasn’t for long – It’s hard to play football without the ball. All you have then is feet.

Sending off the ball – The lad sure has some bottle.

She Loves To Move, She Loves To Groove

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