The Goalkeeper’s Love of the Penalty – Mansel Jones

I could have been a contender. In my youth I was a goalkeeper for a below-average team that lost most of its matches. But because we were no good my goalkeeping prowess was often on display and quite often the coaches of the teams who beat us would come up to me after the game and ask me to join them. Yet, I stayed loyal to my local no-hopers and played the game for what it was, fun.

Then there was the school kick-around with some teachers that effectively ended my ‘career’. One teacher was very competitive. Challenging for a 50-50 ball he went over the top and shattered my knee. I could probably sue him for millions if it happened today. An operation repaired my knee to some extent, but it left a weakness there and I was unable to kick the ball any great distance. Also, after a match my knee would swell and ache to the point of agony. So, I retired and contented myself with watching the game.

Watching the modern game reminds me of the times I faced a penalty or a penalty shoot-out. These shoot-outs occurred during six-a-side tournaments when the scores were level in goals and corners won. I used to love these penalty shoot-outs because there was no great expectation on the goalkeeper. The penalty-taker was expected to score and you were expected to fail.

Sometimes I saved these penalties, sometimes the ball hit the back of the net. In those days you were not allowed to move at all on the line and I found that to my advantage because most penalty-takers hit the ball down the centre or near the centre of the goal. If the goalkeeper remained poised on his line and didn’t dive before the penalty was taken he would save 50% of the penalties and, if his team-mates did their stuff, his team would win the game.

Of course if a penalty is placed into a corner of the goal and you don’t move before the penalty is struck you are not going to save it. But if that penalty is struck sweetly, you won’t save it anyway.

‘Stand still and allow the penalty-taker to make a mistake’ should be the goalkeeper’s motto. After all, the goalkeeper is in position, watching with everyone else as the penalty-taker makes that rubber-legged walk from the half-way line to the penalty spot. If the striker scores after that walk, good luck to him. But if you hold your ground and he misses you can be a hero.





Footnote: are penalties a fair way to decide a football match?

No. Are they a dramatic way to end the game?

Yes. And because of their drama, they will stay.


Mansel Jones has been researching and writing about medieval history for the past forty years. He is an acknowledged expert in his field and academics and universities seek his views. He is the author of A History of Kenfig, Pendragon and Tangwstyl.You can discover more about Mansel on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:


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3 thoughts on “The Goalkeeper’s Love of the Penalty – Mansel Jones

  1. BooksBy JJ.Hughes says:

    I do love the drama a penalty shoot out brings at the end of a tight game, but it is so heartbreaking for the team that loses that way, you have to wonder if it is the best way to find a result. Still, it works in that regard. Good article.


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