Clean Sheet – A goalkeeping focus

by James Clark

Welcome to the very first edition of “Clean Sheet”, an inside look at the greatest position in world football… “Goalkeeper”.

Love them or hate them, goalkeepers are known as being just a little bit left of centre. Books have been written about them. There’s my personal favourite handed to me by my father at the tender age of 12 “Goalkeepers Are Different” penned by the well respected Brian Glanville.  The novel follows the career of Ronnie Blake, a young goalkeeper, and his journey from the ups and downs of injury and rejection through to experiencing the enormous thrill of running onto the pitch in front of a roaring cup final crowd. A ‘must read’ for any young keeper wanting to reach the dizzy heights from park football right up to the big time. Sadly life didn’t imitate art in my case study.

As the great strikers always seem be front and centre in the tabloids and broadsheets for all the right and wrong reasons, goalkeepers are often their poor cousins. That’s where my blog hopes to come into its own – by highlighting and promoting the stand-out goalkeeping performances from each round of the very best competitions in world football. I hope it will be the nerve centre, covering everything about those lonely and terminally frustrated individuals who stand guard over that sacred goal, deep inside the 18 yard box.

My love of football goes way back to my childhood, when I was asked by our under nine coach at the time, “Who wants to play in goals”? I sheepishly raised my hand thinking that perhaps this action would transform my sporting career into the stratosphere of greatness. I was right – it did transform me, but not as a brilliant and talented football god!

Despite this my love of the game has never waned and as a staunch armchair critic I continue to watch, read, listen, live and breathe all things football. This includes getting up in the middle of the night to watch World Cup tournaments, endless qualifiers, Euro Championships, UEFA Champion’s League & Europa League, FA Cup, EPL, La Liga, Classico, Serie A, Bundesliga, NPower Championships games etc and of course our very own burgeoning A-League competition. I guess at the tender age of 42 if you’re getting up to make use of the facilities you may as well stay up and catch the odd game on the box.

For now I will concentrate on the local A-League competition and report on how the top keepers are faring with respect to clean sheet stats. I hope to extend my expert analysis to performances elsewhere around the globe, in particular the English Premier League. I will also try to cover any weekly clangers of note, highlighting the odd brain-fades or mix-ups that are bound happen in the high pressured world of professional football.

To make things interesting, it’s my commitment to award an exclusive brand new 1000 plus Thread Count Queen-sized sheet set to the lucky A-league keeper with the best clean sheet record at the conclusion of the regular season. Here’s hoping I can “bed” down a high end sponsor like Sheridan.

A-League

So far in the A-League after four rounds, Central Coast Mariners’ Matt Ryan continues to stake his claim for back-to-back “A-League Goalkeeper of the Year” titles with another impressive week in the box. Round Four saw him keep his 3rd clean sheet of the season with a combined total of 10 saves overall. At this rate he’s on track to eclipse his total clean sheet tally for 2011-12 of eight by the end of the calendar year. Close behind Matt are Adelaide United’s Eugene Galekovic, Glory’s Danny Vukovic and WSW’s Ante Covic on two clean sheets. One of the stand-out keeping performances of the weekend would have to be talented young keeper Mark Birighitti from the Jets who pulled off some magic glove work to deny the Victory some much needed confidence in front of goal. He is certainly a keeper on the rise and possesses some wonderful reflexes as shown by his efforts on Friday night at Hunter Stadium being awarded two points towards the prestigious Alex Tobin Award.

The clanger of the week would have to go to Sydney FC’s keeper Danny Vukovic. After keeping Sydney FC to one goal, Vukovic committed a memorable brain fade after sheepishly rolling the ball out to Liam Miller who was comfortably dispossessed by Grant. A quick pass to the awaiting Brett Emerton followed, who performed a deft chip over a red-faced Vukovic to giveSydneythe lead and eventual win in front of a healthy crowd of 22,128 at StadiumAustralia. Tune into Fox Sports next week to see how many times Danny will roll the ball out of the box against the Mariners at Blue Tongue Stadium this Saturday.

Well that’s all for this week’s wrap. Enjoy the lead up to Round Five. I’ll be heading out to Suncorp Stadium to see the Brisbane Roar host Adelaide United. Last year’s fixture proved to be a goal fest after “Super” Dario Vidosic scored in the fifth minute only to see the Roar go on to score seven unanswered goals courtesy of a Besart Berisha hat-trick and Henrique double.

My goalkeeper quote of the week:

My colleagues spend most of their time with their backs turned towards me. I don’t believe it’s because I am unpopular – honestly”

Brad Friedel, the evergreen 41 year old keeper for Tottenham.

3 Responses

  1. Justin Cormick Justin Cormick says:

    Good article. Covic made a good switch to Western Sydney and should do well this season, he has only let in two goals and one was a Del Piero penalty that he almost kept out.

  2. shayna says:

    I love that you’re doing a GK blog. We get NO attention! I wish keepers got more recognition, I want to be able to read headlines and articles with focus on goalkeepers the way we get such coverage on every other player. Thank you for the time and effort.

    1. James Clark James Clark says:

      Cheers Shayna
      I’m also hoping do some one on one brief interviews with keepers in the A-League and possibly young Aussie keepers aboard in future editions. Thanks for the feedback.
      James

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