Friday, February 23, 2007

6 degrees 12 goals - Ebren

Henry drifts into the box, Hoyte spots his run with a lovely chipped pass and – boom – over the bar, unmarked from five yards.

Hasslebank hits a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box. Throw in.

"My gran could do better than that!"

Could they? I mean it's a reasonable question. Just how much better than us mere mortals are the professionals?

In any Premiership, international, Serie A, or La Liga game I watch I see passes misplaced that I could make. People out of position, taking the wrong option, and conceding possession cheaply. So how did this bunch of losers end up earning millions while I am forced to pay to play football on a Wednesday night.

Well, one day I found out.

They say you should never meet your heroes, as they will just let you down.

They are wrong.

Last season when my team of also-rans turned up for a fixture there were a couple of guys warming up with us on the pitch before the game - I assumed they were part of the opposition and didn't pay much attention to them. More members of the opposition turned up and we had a game.

Fifteen seconds in, they score.

Thirty seconds later they score again.

I realised about then there was something very familiar about one of the members of the opposition. I had stood on a terrace at Kingsmeadow and watched him tear an opposition defence to shreds for 88 minutes with a 7 on his back. That opposition was Fulham in a pre-season friendly, Kingstonian won 1-0 thanks to a Maz goal. ( )

Here is a quote from the Aldershot manager about him:

"He is slightly zany and a bit unconventional and he has a stack of tricks. He has probably under achieved in his career so far [Kingstonian record - played 70, scored 15, playing from right wing]. I spoke to Ian Mac [Kingstonian manger] and he said to me that Maz could be anything he wanted to be. He has all the talent in the world but it is up to him to make the most of that talent."

He was 22.

He scored 12.

Towards the end of the first half I tracked him across the park, and blocked a shot. It almost tore my leg off.

There was a glimmer of hope after they scored their second, when we made it 2-1, but that was about as close as we got to being in the contest.

They say you should never meet your heroes - they are wrong. You should never play against them.


andrewm said...

Jesus - give a monkey a simple task ....

Having been made guest editor (an honorary title - I won't be editing any articles I receive) I managed to post and delete about six garbled versions of this article this morning, despite it seemingly being the simplest task in the world.

Hopefully you can now see the article as Ebren sent it to me, minus one troublesome link which I'm sure he will fix when he has the chance.

Ebren - for the sake of the blog, I hope someone else steps up next time.

kokomo said...

well done for stepping up andrew.

And a good article ebren.

but we have all played with people who have gone onto professional careers and were clearly nothing too special - sam shilton is a good example from me, i swear i was better than him!

I bet that jamie carragher didn't stand out particularly at school either, and this maz guy isn't achieving as much as he probably could be.

I reckon that for every professional footballer, there are a 1000 others who were good enough to take their place but lacked the character/dedication/luck to make it.

very interesting though, i have never seena player score 12 goals in a game!

andrewm said...

And so to the actual article.

Very interesting I thought, and made me think about two separate incidents which I will bore you with.

1. I went to school with two lads who went on to be Scotland internationals. By then I'd given up playing against anyone other than my mates as I was beyond useless, but it was already known that these two were a bit good and were about to be signed by a top club. If you ever asked anyone who regularly played against either of them, they would always sneer - as schoolboys will - and say they were overrated and would never make it.

2. Once on holiday I met a Dutch kid and we had a kickabout. He was brilliant (quick aside: I'm not about to say, "And that kid's name was Dennis Bergkamp" or anything like that). He told me earnestly that he was one of the worst players in his school. I knew then that Scotland would never win the World Cup.

MotM said...

I was once told by a retired semi-pro, that most of us park footballers can do what most of the pros can do, except not as quickly. I think there is a lot in this and it holds for many sports (eg cricket, rugby).

Begs the question why so many dead balls are struck so poorly though - if Jonny hits the target 9/10 kicking a funny shaped ball from 40 yeards away, why are so many free kicks off target?

The other difference is consistency. I've thrown two 180s in thousands of attempts. Phil Taylor throws two in a decent leg.

Some though, (Tiger, Federer, Maradona) do seem to exist in anothere world altogether.

Good piece Ebren and an interesting issue ideal for the blog. Keep it up andrew. Once I'm certain my submissions aren't chosen, I'll let you have 'em!.

kokomo said...

andrew - that is an interesting comment. Who were the scottish internationals?

are you talking about the skills of the dutch kid in an indicator that scotland (and i guess england) are way behind, ir the fact that this kid had some humility?

I also played with some kids who were awesome in youth team football, and had clubs queueing up to sign them, but they hit puberty and it all went pearshaped. Not sure what that means.

My school teacher also taught gary linekar a few years before me, and told him to give up football and concentrate on cricket.

Not sure what that means either.

But i tell you another anecdote about him. We were training one balmy evening (we were a good youth team side, won a few junior leagues and cups and stuff, but we were not the best), and he was unhappy about the effort some of us were putting in. Now, at this time, i was quite a fit lad, and was having quite a good session, but he singled out a few lads to show who he felt was 'putting it in' in training. The ones he singled out were the ones who were dripping with sweat (these are pubescent boys on a hot evening), the ones who had grass stains on their clothes, and his own son. I wasn't one of these, and i am still outraged to this day.

But more to the point, doesn't this show what little these goons know about football - this guy was coaching some of the best players in the county (not me particularly, but we had some good lads), and indeed had previously done the england captain, but he knew very little about football beyond tghe english mentality.

And he was one of the better coaches in the league.

so yes, england will also never win the world cup.

MotM said...

KK - Lineker was a gifted cricketer and snooker player. It wouldn't out of the question to ask a lad to give cricket a go as the compettion is less intesnse and it would certainly suit his temperament more than football.

Phil Neville was the best schoolboy cricketer in the country by all accounts.

What do coaches at that level get paid? Follow the money.

MotM said...

Andrewm - My four pieces are e-mailed as attachments.

I've posted the only negative comment on the blog, so once you post mine, I can expect a bit of flak.

Thanks again.

Ebren - Congrats on a second honourable mention.

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...


that was shite. My gran could write an article ten times better.

kokomo, motm, andrew,

same for your comments

andrewm said...

Mouth - no sign of those attachments at the pseud's corner email account. Did you send them directly to Ebren?

Maybe you should try sending them directly to me at

Come on - I want to read them!

andrewm said...

KK, apologies for taking so long to reply, I completely forgot.

Re: the Dutch kid, it was basically that I was amazed by how good he was, far better than anyone I'd ever seen, but he explained to me that (basically) every kid in the Netherlands played for a team and received extensive skills coaching. He told me that his mates were a lot better than him. False modesty maybe, but I couldn't help thinking that if they had a system that produced players that good and indeed far better then we didn't have a prayer.

And the two Scotland internationals were .... drumroll .... Steven and Gary Caldwell!

And you were hoping for Souness and Dalglish :o)

Steven was a classy midfielder and Gary was I think a fullback. It was the talk of the school when Kenny invited them to Newcastle and they signed.

Ebren said...

Hi guys,

I'm back in the UK after a brief jaunt to Asia.

Watched Fenebache lose to AZ in a Fena pub in Istanbul, got lost in a bazar, almost bought a Fena shirt.

Thanks for the praise on this. Frankly, I'm surprised I got an hon ment.

I put it togther from a match report I wrote at the time for my lot in about 20 mins on Saturday to throw my hat in.

I have played with and against and held my own against several future England and Ireland and Wales rugby players. And a couple of current internationals) for smaller nations) before I blew my knee out.

Maz scared me.

By the last 20 mins I had got to the stage where I could handle him more often than not by completely changing the way I marked him. It made me a far batter defender because of this night. But as a team we were blown away.

Andrew - great work sir.

MotM said...

Glad you're back Ebren.

When Saturday Comes about 20 years ago asked for apposite reasons for matches being abandoned - you know, Pride March at Gay Meadow etc. I can only recall "Renegade Apache at Fenerbache", but it is a good one.

Notwithstanding that some of the posts are mine, this site is much better than GU today or yesterday. pipita is going to post tomorrow and let's hope others chip in.

I've been called out by Reemgear (who has the form) to write just one effort, but I'll struggle to do even that this week. Once confirmed as an Also-Ran, it'll be posted to you.

Andrewm did a great job in the circs - thanks again.

andrewm said...

Ebren, glad you're back. Can you please fix the fonts? It's been doing my head in.

Ebren said...

I've got dog-faced-boy's submission to hand (or an early version of it) that can go on and I'll check my email in case anyone got confused.

I would love to find out what the GU team thought of this site - I'm quite surprised I got an honourable to be honest.

Ebren said...

AM - I'm pretty sure I know why that went wrong. But I quite like it.

If you look at the "banned" blogs the fonts are all over the place, content not format is all that matters.

Leaving quiet Istanbul I found fights on the streets of London after the Lague cup final.


Brack said...

Phil Neville should have stuck to cricket. He makes Heskey's England Caps tally look deserved

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