Wayne Rooney broke Manchester United’s all-time goal scoring record last weekend. I’m starting to lose hope of ever scoring once for United, let alone 250 times–but his goal got me thinking about the best goals I did manage to score for various teams. Two in particular stand out. One was genuinely good. One wasn’t.
The good one occurred, ironically, during what had been up until then the worst game I’d ever played. I know, I know: Captain Exaggeration and all that. But I’m serious: I was awful that night, which was an indoor game between my former high school, Westgate Collegiate & Vocational Institute, and our rival St. Pats. Every touch was heavy, every pass misplaced. And at one point in the middle of the first half, after yet another loose pass, I turned and ran towards the bench, barking: “Get me off.”
And then, just as I was arriving at the bench, the ball appeared in front of me. A defender was closing me down quickly. So I said to the bench, “Just a second.” Then I flicked the ball over the defender’s outstretched foot, stepped around him, and hit the ball as hard as I could. I wanted to hit it into the corner so I could finish the line change. And, well, take out my frustration on the ball.
But remember: I was playing the worst game I’d ever played. So I aimed for the corner of the field, hit the ball as hard as I could–then watched it fly into the net off the underside of the bar. The ‘keeper had no chance. Never before nor since have I hit a ball so sweetly. The technical term, I believe, is “thunderbastard.”
And it was pure, dumb luck.
Naturally, I scored on each of my next two shifts and was named man of the match. We won 8-5.
The not-good one happened in an U-18 indoor match. My team that year was (warning! Captain Exaggeration again!) the best I’ve ever played for; we waltzed to our league title, winning our semi-final 16-1 and the championship game 8-2. Anyway. Before the game my friend Rob dared me, for no particular reason, to celebrate any goal I scored by doing a faceplant. Again, this was an indoor game; the old Soccerplex in Thunder Bay used thin artificial turf overtop concrete. I’d actually scored earlier on in the game, but I’d stabbed the ball into the net at full stretch and, therefore, couldn’t do the planned celebration. A few minutes later, with the game long since won, I chased an opposing defender into his own end. We reached the end boards at the exact same time, which resulted in the following sequence of events:
- “Oh, shit!” he said
- He hoofed the ball straight up into the air; it hit the netting that covered the field and bounced straight back down
- He wheeled around and kicked the ball as hard as he could
- The ball proceeded to whack into, well, my balls
- As I fell over in agony I somehow managed to bundle the ball past the ‘keeper into the net
I got up, barely able to breathe–and then I remembered what I’d promised Rob. So I stood as straight as I could…then flung out my arms and did a full-on faceplant into the Soccerplex turf. Face met thin-turf-covered concrete. And then I was helped off the field.
Wayne Rooney’s scored some spectacular goals, his latest included. But I bet he’s never done that.