When we were kids if you should have the misfortune of throwing a baseball – or as good Canadian kids a snowball – well wide of the mark someone would no doubt suggest that you could not hit the broad side of a barn. Some even went on to embellish the degree of failure by pointing out that you couldn’t not hit said barn with a banjo. I believe this to me a mixing of metaphors as there is a saying: You could not hit a cow’s arse with a banjo. In that case the banjo is not a musical instrument, but a shovel. There are no barns for miles here yet the expression illustrated so well the throwers’ ineptitude that it was often heard.
What brought this to my mind was this past weekend’s soccer match between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. At one point in the close game a penalty kick was awarded to Atlético’s Antoine Griezmann. A soccer net is twenty-four feet wide and eight feet high. A bit small for the broad side of a barn, but a significant area. A penalty kick is an unobstructed shot from approximately 12 feet (11 metres). Given those parameters it is not surprising that players usually score. It is pretty hard for a goalkeeper to stop the ball, although it does happen from time to time, when the planets and stars align and the keeper correctly guesses where the shot will go. What happens less often, and is beyond my comprehension, is that the kicker misses the net. Yep, last Saturday a world-class soccer player stood 11 meters away and booted the ball off the crossbar.
When I was growing up there was only one soccer ball in the neighbourhood, it belonged to the Polish kid down the street. Lots of hockey, baseball and football gear, but no real soccer presence. As a young man my father played recreational soccer in an industrial league. While not a soccer family per se, we did have an appreciation of the game. Yet to miss the entire goal from 12-feet is almost unbelievable.