Thursday, July 12, 2007

A game in amber - Ebren


The floodlights infuse everything with a harsh, yellow light making the green of the grass look plastic and the red of the opposition shine. Beyond the pitch is darkness.

Behind me a team-mate screams encouragement.

There is a defender three meters away in front of me to my right, at two o'clock. There is another defender to my left - a meter further away, at nine-thirty.

They are irrelevant. The ball hangs in the air closer than both of them.

It is coming towards me, dropping in slow motion into that pocket of space in front and slightly to the right of my knee. The hitting zone.

I take in the wider scene.

The goal is ahead or me 15 or so metres away. The goalkeeper is too far to his left. Nine players are looking at me, or at the ball.

The top corner is there. Right There. There is nothing between my right boot and it. The scores are tied.

I can see it. See it all. See it in my head. Burned into my head. Still there, days, weeks, months, later.

I start to lift my right foot - body shape, it's all about body shape.



bluedaddy said...

Row K

file said...

bit by mosquito, also stuck in amber...

row k

Ebren said...

You underestimate me sirs.

I cleared the goal, pitch small park behind the pitch, park's fence, pavement, road behind the park, pavement on the other side of the road, and fence surrounding the field on the other side of the road.

It took me 10 minutes to get the ball back.

hook's croc said...

tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock

marcela said...

ahh, lord eb

whereas on kk's thread you captured the underlying structure, the spaces that cohese (?), the collective nature of the team game, here you perfectly take us into the individual moment. man and ball at one with their aim.

you are, i am beginning to suspect, an all rounder.

reading this reminded me of a quote at the beginning of one of valdano's books:

"I confess it is rare if a night goes by without me dreaming about goals; spectacular, beautiful, and mine".

never played myself, but thank dog nuff of yous wot do can transmit what it's about. :)

byebyebadman said...

Nice testament to the speed of the human brain there Ebren, weighing all that up in a second.

Shame you didn't roof it...

neuron a said...

Sorry, could you point the way to the right foot, please?

file said...

'eternity in an hour'

ebren developing into the William Blake of Pseuds', nay transforming, into a mighty Soup Dragon

ribena, baked beans anyone?

neuron b said...

Er, I seem to have gotten lost myself. Let's just twitch around a bit, see what happens...

optic nerve said...

Ooops, is that row k over there?

cerebellum said...

Next time, lemme take care of it, alright?

Zeph said...

This is brilliant, Ebren.

Ebren said...

Cheers Zeph, Marcela, bbb,

This is what I meant to do. But my point was that infinite moment before, the instant that stretches, that keeps stretching. Every now and again one stays with you, be it a near miss with a cyclist when crossing a road or a ball dropping on the edge of the penalty box. Pregnant with possibilities. Burned into your memory. This is one of mine.

Maybe it should be over in Zeph's place.

This is what file thinks I've turned into. For the non-Brits.

Zephirine said...

No, it belongs here. But it could have gone on Otherstuff as well.. both sporting and artistic.

MotM said...

I can't get the bloody video to work either.

mimi said...

It's like that moment when, just before the crash, you know you'll crash and end up in casualty with a broken collar-bone. In a comedy version of slow-mo, you see the car coming towards you - you have to swerve, but it'll be pain if you go across the pavings, so you do nothing, and fly off the bonnet of the on-coming car and hit the pavement that you were dreading. Amber moments - wish the pain was in amber!

DoctorShoot said...

great wordsmithing,

worth noting that there is a way of getting the hanging ball into the net
for certain
and you can surprise everyone:-))
(though something of a blue rather than an amber)...:

pipita said...

Lord Ebren

Don't envy that zizou goal one bit...Like Valdano says I dreamt a goal which I actually ended up scoring once. Received ball just outside penalty area with my back towards the goal, lifted it with my right foot to my right knee, onto my left knee, turned, and proceeded to whack it with my right foot straight into the top left hand corner of the net, golazo!!!!!!!Even opposing team players applauded. Definetly my moment of football glory. Apologies for being such an arrogant bastard, but seldom do I have a chance to share this experience that dates almost twenty years back

DoctorShoot said...


ah sweet memory as w b yeats said:
"...My arms are like the twisted thorn
And yet there beauty lay;.."

and the frame around your picture of that magic goal seems carefully polished...

gold leaf I presume... and still a cracker...

file said...


perhaps my enjoyment of this piece got lost in my haste to bounce off it, should be spelled out that This, imo, is wonderful creative expression of sport


don't apologize, we all have one (if only I had more than one) such memory brought alive by Ebrens' work and the great and new, to me, quote from Valdano (Ta Marcela, ta Pipita)

pipita said...

Doctorshoot, File

Ta to the both of you for sharing that magic moment, as well as for Yeats, and, most of all, for not asking more specific details about that game:)))

file said...

aren't those special personal moments best left in their amber bubbles?

doesn't matter much that Ebren's strike bounced off the moon and your goal was one of the best I've ever seen, nuff sed

duncan said...

Ooh, I suddenly feel all e.e. cummings re: lovers love etc. But:

The best players have the vision to know what the options are before the ball arrives. Ebren's piece splendidly sums up the gap between vision and action in a few lines. Opposed to us mere mortals, The Greats have better visions and execute their visions more often than not.
(I'm with BD on this one: Row K!)

Ebren said...

Cheers guys,

The best I ever actually scored was from right back. We picked up the ball near our goal, I saw that everyone was concentrated in the left half of the pitch and mostly forward after a period of sustained attacking from then, and started to run.

Our left mid saw my run as I was approaching the half-way line and hit a long-range pass ahead of me.

At this point the opposition realised I was running and started haring across the pitch to close me down.

Now the ball doesn't reach you instantly so by the time it did I was about 20 meters from the goal. I plucked the ball out of the air with my right foot without breaking stride, my next touch placed the ball in the top corner on the half volley.

Strange thing is, it was almost effortless.

Dunc - I never thought it was about vision with the greats, I thought it was about touch.

I have to watch the ball onto my foot to see where it bounces to. Which means the only time I get my head up to look at where people are is after I have controlled it.

If your touch is good enough you can look up before the ball gets to you, meaning you can see the options earlier. The quality of the touch means that you don't need to look down to be sure the ball is where you want it to be.

Can you tell I've been injured for a month? All this reminiscing and theorising...

Yrsa Roca Fannberg said...

Did the kid really do his job before it all started. were the boots clean?

ps.What do you guys make of the rumour that Wenger is going to Barcelona to be the sporting director next year.
Obviously Cesc going with him.

bluedaddy said...

Spot on effortless is exactly what it is. Scholes doesnt blast this. In fact in the slo-mo replays you can see how much he is controlling that shot, staying relaxed to make the contact perfect. Not following through fully because his habit tells him that timing is required here, not force. The subsequent pace, not the direction, beats the keeper.

Magnificent goal. I cannot think of a better striker of the ball currently playing in England.

As an amateur, that euphoric surprise you feel when you get the timing right - you barely register the contact with the ball - makes the other thousands of other slightly/wildly mistimed contacts worthwhile.

file said...


sorry, Wenger is going to be the next Engerland manager if I have anything to do with it (I've volouteered my pocket money to the FA to help pay his costs!)

file said...

...and Cesc is gonna get an arranged marriage with my spinster Aunt, British passport and a guaranteed England place!

Speaktruth said...


you may not appreciate me saying this but your action on the other blog has really got up my nose

I asked u before if there was any problems with having lots of comments, u said none other than the pain of scrolling down.

Yet you have draconianly closed that blog without much warning or consultation.

Now u suggest to go to other place.

which other place and what happened to freedom of choice.

why does it concern u so much that u had to close it down?

I thought u created this forum cos you dissapproved of the way the GU blog evolved. Yet u then go on to mirror exactly the same practice.

I am sure there is no reason why that blog should be closed, but u have just done so. Cos u have the power, I guess.

More grease to your "power" elbows

Ebren said...

Speaktruth - I didn't mean to cause offence.

There is a limit to how much space a blog page can take up, I don't know what it is as it depends on the length of each post to make up the total page size. But the smile page was gargantuan. GU generally shuts things down after 300/400 posts max.

To stop this being a problem for you guys or the wider site I created this: paulitas-new-place over a month ago.

I can re-open the other place, but I really thought it would be easier and safer for everyone to use the new one. I wasn't trying to take anything away from anyone.

offsideintahiti said...

No, Ebren, he's right. You're turning into a power-hungry dictator with a monster ego. It's scary. I've been trying to warn you for a long time now. It's too late, I fear.

If only you could stick a volley in the top corner once in a while...

Margin said...

having some of your exploits in the opposition half of the pitch Ebren, this story lacked suspense when I read it.

but hey - it was still fun to read and better luck next time huh?

munni said...

Ebren, I really like this piece, I think we all know that moment, and also the moment immediately after.

I'm with File: the best ones have the ability to close the gap between vision and action.

Yrsa: now that's provocation, and I will not be drawn. Still, if they're (both/either) going anywhere, I'd much rather Barcelona than Real.

Yrsa Roca Fannberg said...

I hope your pocket money is large, otherwise it will be difficult.

and yes it is just a teasing intuition...

Although I think Wenger is a bit of a crybaby, so nt sure I want him:) Although he is much more suited to the job than Txiki.

file said...


alas, my pocket money is a pittance, only enough to cover the cost of his chewing tobacco for a week, but, sigh, we do what we can

Tweet it, digg it