Types of goal

Some goals are pure rapture, of course. Advert goals. Cup Final winners, sure, but a Tuesday night equaliser can qualify if the harmonies are right. A narcotic fizz. Players wrestle to the ground five metres away, sweat and spittle bursting in the floodlights. Someone topples over from the seat behind; you pull them up by their jacket sleeves. No hot chocolate remains unspilled. Goals that cause good-natured injuries you compare on the train home. Goals you YouTube when you can't sleep and damn: raised hairs every time.

But there are other goals.

Some goals come too late: 4–0 down and damn, finally. It’s important to know the appropriate cheer for this goal, i.e. the wayyyyy that accompanies an English pub plate-drop. The player sprints back to the centre circle with an armpitted ball, pretending to the manager he’s not given up. This goal doesn’t even need to be a goal, if you’re sufficiently desperate. Late in a grim mid-table season it can be fun to fake it: “Let’s pretend / Let’s pretend / Let’s pretend we scored a goal!”.

The goals when you’re 4–0 up happen less frequently. They’re almost embarrassing. Home fans are already grumbling to the exit, and your fullback gets his one for the season: a defensive howler that even he can’t miss from two metres. More of a basketball cheer: staccato,  fading to applause and grins. A tenner in an old coat.

Some goals you’re not terribly proud of. That guy in Block 120—yeah, him—has been giving you wanker signs all game, and the blood alcohol takes over. Have some of that, you prick. Plosives and pointing and swear words. The sort of overlubricated goal that foretells a looming 8pm hangover and misspelled texts.

Some goals are amused disbelief: 3:06pm, one up against Man City. You jump around of course, but you know it’s ludicrous and temporary. Enjoy the outlandish story but don’t let it become too real. Self-protection, see.

And then there are the goals the other team scores. Those are never fun.

Cennydd Bowles