Monday, 14 December 2009

In Praise of the Own Goal

Tragicomedy is a very topical art-form.

Tiger Woods (sorry to keep bringing it up, but it's pure gold) plays away with a string of disreputable women and, though we are witnessing the tragic destruction of a family, and the downfall of a man who had it all, we still laugh.

Meanwhile everyone's favourite misogynist Silvio Berlusconi gets whacked with a miniature model cathedral and we feel sad that, however disagreeable he may be, a 73-year-old man has been publicly and brutally assaulted.

In the sporting world, there is probably nothing quite as tragicomic as football's own goal. And this weekend served up some real bittersweet treats across Europe's top leagues.

A tasty starter was provided by Chelsea's Petr Cech, who was a little unfortunate to have one go in off his back (it's goal number 1 on this link). Even so, seeing the big Czech goalkeeper hitting the ground like a pigeon suffering an in-flight heart attack raises a smile.

But the main course was a veritable feast of own goals at the Bundesliga fixture between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hannover 96. Hannover managed six goals in the match, though unfortunately for them three were in the wrong goal. Special mention should go to Hannover defender Karim Haggui, who grabbed a pair of own goals in the game.

But the Romeo and Juliet Memorial Prize for an own goal inviting most hilarity goes to Constant Djakpa for his spectacular long-range effort, Gladbach's third goal of the game. Djakpa then provides his own punchline by collapsing to the floor, head in hands, looking like a man who has just crashed his car, been attacked by his golf club-wielding wife and been revealed as a serial philanderer. Oh wait...

There are plenty more where that came from too. A favourite is Jamie Pollock's majestic strike for Manchester City against QPR in 1998, which incidentally also condemned City to relegation. Franck Queudrue, playing for Lens, scored a superb volleyed lob against his own goalkeeper. And what about Chris Brass of Bury, who not only scores a contender for greatest own goal ever but broke his nose in the process?

The Cynical Challenge reckons there's nothing in sport which provokes that potent mix of laughter and sympathy quite like a football own goal. Watching a batsman run his partner out can be funny, but cricket being a gentleman's sport, cricketers tend to be quickly forgiven by crowds for their errors. Watching figure skaters sprawl out on the ice after an abortive triple lutz is hilarious, but it's hard to really laugh hard about it when the skaters look so upset.

But this is a democracy so I'm going to throw this one open to you, the readers. Feel free to leave your suggestions for similarly tragicomic sporting moments in the comment box below.


Not A Textbook said...

Some scores a goal against the team you support and wheel off celebrating = tragedy.

The ref disallows the goal for an offside. = comedy.

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Always glad to hear your thoughts. Be nice now! James