“It starts in the very depths of your soul as a small, seed of burning energy, the hairs on the back of your neck and on your arms responding to the signals, and standing to attention. A split second later, it expands and grows and begins the journey through your body, energising and tingling every nerve and muscle as it passes by. Your face starts to twitch, your mouth goes dry, your eyes begin to glisten. It continues to grow and grow, filling every corner of your conscious self, testing and probing each part of your body. And then, just as each sinew reaches breaking point, each nerve ending is burning out, it explodes into the air in a cacophony of noise, laughter and elation. A pure release of emotion and excitement, like never before. It can’t get any better than this, can it?”
I assure you it can’t. It’s a moment that This is it, this is a goal, and not just any goal but a goal to end all goals, a goal that contains a special ingredient, a goal that only a minority will understand. A Hull City goal. Being a keen follower of football, I get excited about other goals too.
Watching Fulham take on Aston Villa in the fifth round of the cup can certainly raise the pulse, as lowly Fulham slam another one past the pretenders to the throne. Equally when England get into the ring with the world’s élite, I can jump around the room with the best of them, as Michael Owen glides around the centre half and covers himself in glory.
But for all of the importance of these goals, nothing can compare to seeing the black and amber clad warriors do their own little war dance, as they worship the god of the onion bag.
I also have to confess that feelings don’t necessarily start in the depths of the stomach, but often about ten yards from the edge of the opposition penalty area.
Obviously, this measurement is not critical, as it all depends on the action at the time: is the ball travelling towards the goal, is the City player in space, are they about to be tackled, is there a chance to cross the ball into the area.
Many things can act as the catalyst. Equally there are things that suppress such feelings: loss of ball control, a crunching tackle by the opposition, a poorly directed cross that sails pathetically behind the goal line.
It is true also that the trigger point can be as many as sixty or seventy yards away from the opposition goal. Such as when a City defender wins the ball from an opposing forward with a well timed tackle, and then immediately releases a City forward or midfielder, to run at the opposition with the ball. This can also be a trigger point, but obviously in this case, the energy delays moving from the stomach until something much more promising decides to happen. There are also the occasions when, just before the release point, the whole thing collapses in on itself. Then, all I end up with is a strangled gurgle as the keeper makes another brilliant save, or more often than not, a City player decides this is the day he doesn’t want to score and manages to miss the goal from point blank range.
But what a makes a City goal special? Many would argue that it is their rarity value, rather like antiques or rare stamps and coins. There are so few of them, that each one attracts a special value. It has also been suggested that when City are glaring through the trapdoor to the Conference, each goal has an extra special quality, as each one is a step closer to survival. I can agree with this, but in some ways the end result of the goal is relief rather than pure joy, and in my eyes, joy is the winner. My belief is that a City goal is extra special because it’s personal, and deep down, it really means something.
Every goal is another building block to success, every goal is another golden memory to be recalled at a later date. But more importantly, and the power of this should not be underestimated, every goal is another opportunity to stuff it up the nose of the clever dick at work, at school, or down the pub, who insists that City will never win because they’re crap (despite the fact that he or she has never set foot inside Boothferry Park). I also have to qualify this somewhat, by insisting that goal is only special if it goes someway to suggest that a win or a draw is possible. It’s almost impossible to grasp any crumb of comfort from a goal at the end of game when City are already five nil down, even if it is screamer.
It’s an odd thing really, when you think about it, that a small leather bag of air travelling a few yards, can release such feelings of energy and excitement. Yet it’s almost involuntary, I couldn’t sit there like a Trappist monk, if I tried. When it goes in, I just able to clone them and sell them in a bottle, and then they may be available on prescription, I’m sure that will give Viagra a run for it’s money. Until then, I’ll pay my money, take my place and wait for … the goal.