The last man and always the one to pay the price of teammates’ faults – it’s not easy being a goalkeeper.
Sometimes, the camera can be very cruel.
As Adelaide United goal keeper Eugene Galekovic plucked the ball out of the back of his net for the third time in six minutes on Friday night, the TV camera zoomed in for a close up on the beleaguered stopper.
Galekovic had the countenance of Wyle E. Coyte after he-d been clocked on the head by the Roadrunner-s ACME anvil one too many times. Poor Eugene.
Amidst the maelstrom that was Brisbane Roar-s goal scoring rampage, he was the final actor at the end of each virtuoso performance. Like one of the knaves in a Shakespearean epic, he was left to fall and sprawl, clutch at the breeze or stand like a bewildered statue as the Brisbane players made their bold statement on the big stage.
At the other end of the park, Galekovic-s old teammate, Michael Theoklitos would no doubt have been enjoying the display be his all-conquering colleagues. At the same time, he-d have felt a pang of empathy for his old friend as he was drowning under wave after wave of Brisbane Roar-s tsunami of goal attempts.
Because like most goalkeepers – he-s been there himself.
For Theoklitos, his nightmare came on a day he should have been realizing a dream. After a stellar season as part of Melbourne Victory-s title winning team of 2008/2009, Theoklitos found himself in England, between the sticks for Norwich City against local rivals Colchester United in the opening league 1 game of the 2009 season.
It was a disaster. Norwich conceded four goals in the first 22 minutes and seven for the game. What should have been the start of the exciting new phase in his career was the beginning and end of a dream for Michael Theoklitos.
And so it is the lot of the goalkeeper to carry the heavy burden of responsibility for the sins and inadequacies of their teammates.
Plenty of keepers make mistakes as well, but a missed pass, a failure to track your opponents run, a scuffed shot or header flying over the cross bar from six yards is often quickly forgotten. Goalkeeping howlers are forever.
It-s why the Stoppers fraternity have that universal bond. It-s knowing that anything that is happening at the other end of the park to the guy in goal could soon be happening to you.
It-s also why keepers are often seen raving wildly at their teammates like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo-s Nest as they rail against the injustice of being left to alone to deal with the mess created by the inadequacy of others – or at least that-s how they see it!
Melbourne Victory-s Ante Covic was in particularly good form in that regard on Sunday against Wellington Phoenix. As his team continued to struggle to find the key to the ignition that might get their season started, Covic was besieged by a profligate Phoenix strike force.
The veteran goalie, who has spent the better part of a month watching his teammates make more bad passes than a middle-aged drunk in a singles bar, seemed to have had enough.
He gave it to his misfiring midfield with both barrels and the roast seemed to work. Victory found their first goal of the season and was on their way to their first win as well.
Next week Covic faces Brisbane Roar and their travelling magic show.
Goalkeepers all round the country will be thinking of him and hoping for the best, knowing – If not for the grace of the footballing gods, go I….