Thursday, April 15, 2010

Danny Rose accelerates from nought to myth in a heartbeat

Last night Spurs played Arsenal. It's one of the most charged rivalries in sport, made even more electric by the fact that both teams still had something to play for as well as the usual pride. Both teams were diminished by injury. Spurs picked 19-year-old Danny Rose for his first Premiership start. He hit one of those volleys from a distance that usually disappear into the stand to the accompaniment of jeers. God knows what combination of skill, good fortune, fate, physics and atmospheric pressure brought it about but his shot went in the net. I've seen it probably thirty times since then. It will no doubt be one of the goals of the season. It's now become a TV event rather than a sporting one, its accompanying commentary imprinted on our consciousness. When we watch it we know the precise sequence in which the events will unfold; the commentator's delighted roar, the post-orgasmic run back to accept the adulation, the inevitable feeling that he will be lucky if anything in his life ever equals that one second in which he made contact. This Sky clip may have been removed by the time you get to it.

However another clip probably won't have been taken down because it was shot by a Spurs fan behind the goal on a cameraphone. He captures the same event but without any of the hindsight and narrative tidiness which TV instantly stamps on any bit of experience. It appears to be another attack breaking down - in that respect football is like a game of Jenga played at high speed - and when the ball goes out to Rose (0.35 on this clip) there's no sense of what's about to happen. There's relative silence as he hits it and not much more as the ball travels through the air. The crowd don't realise what's going to happen until it's clear that it has happened. Then the noise rends the air, crashing the phone's limiter and forcing its owner into a chaotic scrum.

It makes we want to have a machine that can undo TV. Imagine if we had the same kind of simple eye witness to the Maradona Hand of God or the Shane Warne Impossible Ball. If only we could take myth and turn it back into just experience.


  1. Which is just part of the value of attending games, as opposed to watching them on the TV - then you do experience the pure event, and the TV footage is just a reminder.

    (By the way, can I just question the idea of " the post-orgasmic run back to accept the adulation" - does anyone run back for adulation after an actual orgasm...?)

  2. it's amazing he caught the actual goal and also how good consumer video has got, the hand of god would have had to been shot on super 8 most likely.

  3. Not a footie fan, but I'd just like to compliment you for a wonderful piece of writing there.

    The myth and experience bit at the end is a brilliant line. So many things I can now only recall as photos or film, rather than actual memory.

  4. What I particularly like is there's one bloke standing quite close to the guy with the phone who gets what's about to happen a fraction of a second before everyone else. If you listen carefully you can hear an 'oh' while the ball is in mid-flight as he realises it might go in.

  5. At half-time Glenn Hoddle kept braying "What a way to announce yourself to the Premiership!"
    I don't know what that means. I don't think Hoddle did either. He just wanted to have his name associated with the hyperbole right from the start.
    Thing is, a better keeper than Almunia would've stood up and caught that shot. And instead of cooing about how "perfectly" he struck the shot, Andy Gray would've been saying something along the lines of "The kid's got to learn that you don't score goals in this league hitting the ball at that speed."
    And Rose might still have come off at half-time, giving the whole thing a rather more ignominious sheen. But that's football.