Prostate Cancer UK is the official charity partner of The
Football League this season. It is also one of the main
beneficiaries of the moustache-growing campaign Movember, which raises funds and
awareness for men’s health initiatives.
This year’s Movember campaign is celebrating what it means to be
a better man, by
sharing knowledge from one generation to the next. So we asked
journalist and author Jonathan Wilson to arm you
with some amazing football facts – nine of them, in recognition of
the fact prostate cancer will affect one in nine men in the UK.
And who better to focus on than the all-seeing guardians who
protect a team with their skill, knowledge and experience… the
Register to take part at Movember.com, and join the Football
Read on for Jonathan’s top goalkeeper facts...
Arm's length: Peter Shilton had a novel way of improving his reach. Photo courtesy of Action Images
1. A cunning Roose
Until 1912, goalkeepers were allowed to handle the ball anywhere
in their own half of the pitch. The rule was changed to restrict
handling to inside their own penalty box shortly after the
retirement of legendary Sunderland and Arsenal keeper Leigh
Richmond Roose. The Wales international was notorious for bouncing
the ball to the halfway line before launching long kicks into his
2. A bit of a stretch
Peter Shilton was so determined to make it as a goalkeeper that,
as a teenager, he tried to make himself taller by hanging from
bannisters. He would also lie on the garage floor and mark with
chalk the extent of his reach, each day trying to draw the line a
bit further from the wall. Although he remained a little under six
feet, his arms were two inches longer than would be average for a
man of his height.
3. The fruits of Budgie's
John 'Budgie' Burridge, who played for 29 different clubs in a
career that spanned 30 years, was so determined to make it as a
goalkeeper that he tried to copy Shilton in every way – even
going to a hairdresser with a photo of the England keeper and
demanding an identical perm. He also had his wife throw fruit at
him when he wasn’t expecting it in an effort to improve his
4. Elementary goalkeeping
It’s often said that Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of
Sherlock Holmes, was Portsmouth’s first professional goalkeeper.
That’s almost true: he played for the amateur side Portsmouth AFC,
the forerunner of the professional club, using the pseudonym AC
Smith. Conan Doyle also played first-class cricket, his one wicket
being that of WG Grace.
5. Scott the superstitious
Liverpool’s Northern Ireland goalkeeper Elisha Scott was
incorrigibly superstitious. He would arrive two hours before
matches started, change alone, bounce a ball against a wall for an
hour and then, whatever the weather, put on two additional shirts
and an extra pair of socks minutes before kick-off. When he met
Everton’s Dixie Dean in the street one day, Dean, who was famed for
his heading ability, touched his hat in greeting – at which, it is
said, the intense Scott threw himself to the ground as though to
save a header on goal.
6. The proof's in the (rice)
Jack Robinson, of Southampton and Derby, also liked routine. He
was fastidious about his diet and warned others against eating
“sweets, ices, pastry and other such rubbish”, while insisting on a
bowl of rice pudding before a game. When he missed his rice pudding
once before a match at Sunderland in 1894, he let in eight.
7. Breakfast of
Others were less careful about their diet. William ‘Fatty’ Foulke,
for instance, kept goal for Sheffield United, Chelsea and England,
and had reached 28 stone by the time he retired. “I don’t care what
you call me,” he would say, “so long as you don’t call me late for
dinner.” Team-mates also had to be careful not to arrive late for
meals: on one occasion at the team hotel for an away game, Foulke
got up early and wolfed down 11 breakfasts before anybody else from
his team appeared.
8. Sam didn't have the
On Christmas Day 1937, with half an hour of Charlton’s away game
at Chelsea remaining, a heavy fog descended, making further play
impossible. The managers called off their players, accepting that
the game had to be abandoned. The 40,000 crowd dispersed, but the
Charlton keeper, Sam Bartram, was left standing alone on the edge
of his penalty area for several minutes – happily thinking what
intense pressure his side must be applying – before a policeman
told him the game was off.
9. From hero to zero
If they’re not forgotten, goalkeepers are often the scapegoat.
Massimo Taibi is remembered with horror by Manchester United fans
after a howler in his third match for the club, after signing from
Venezia, when he allowed a Matt Le Tissier shot to dribble under
his body. He was dubbed ‘the Blind Venetian’ (although he was
actually born in Palermo) and after another error in his next game,
a 5-0 defeat by Chelsea, he never played for the club again. What’s
rarely mentioned, though, is that he was man of the match in his
first two games for United.
For more Movember-related musings, check out our
Moustachioed Legends XI and our
Top nine father-and-son duos.
How you can get involved
Prostate cancer affects one in nine
men in the UK – that means a man is diagnosed every 15
minutes. Each year the Movember Foundation encourages men to
grow moustaches during November and, in the process, raises
considerable amounts of money for charity.
As Prostate Cancer UK is the official charity partner of The
Football League, we want to make this football’s most successful
contribution to Movember ever.
We’ve created a team for each of the 72 Football League clubs on
the Movember website, so when you register you can start to grow a
Mo on behalf of the team you support. Here’s how:
1. Register at movember.com
2. Join your club’s team using the
search bar on the site
3. Ask your friends and family to
take part too
4. Get growing your moustache from 1
5. Encourage your friends and family
to support your efforts by donating money.
Best of luck!