Football Clichés presents – ‘They All Count: 101 Ways to Score a Goal (or Not)’

With the blessing of the author, this post has been donated to us by the excellent @FootballCliches.

You can check out his website here.


“Yyyyeah-no, it’s always nice to score”, players tell us, even if it’s the three points that matter. After 150 years of the codified game of football, how many different ways have been developed of trying to get on the scoresheet? Well, here’s 101 of them…

1. Fired – A powerful shot. Its height or range is not important, but its trajectory ought to be straight. Often a way of breaking the deadlock, as the goalscorer fires his team into the lead.

2. Drilled – Just as forceful, but this time characterised by its relative lack of height – they are daisy-cutters with oomph. Drilled shots often find the corner, but this is not mandatory.

3. Rifled – A more refined variation of drilled, and part of an ongoing firearms theme, with less violent but more authoritative connotations. The verb to rifle is almost entirely exclusive to ball games.

4. Thundered – Suitable for use with shots that either go in or strike against the woodwork.

5. Hammered – So descriptive a term for powerful long-range efforts that it lends itself to players’ nicknames, such as German midfielders Jorg “The Hammer” Albertz and Thomas “Der Hammer” Hitzlsperger, neither of whom needed a second invitation to shoot.

6. Powered – A less popular verb, lacking the sheer imagery of the aforementioned blockbusters.

7. Slammed – Often aided aesthetically by the ball being hit into the ground on its way into the net. Suitable for powerful goalscoring from close- to mid-range.

8. Rammed – The slightly vulgar twin brother of slammed.

9. Blasted – Surprisingly uncommon, perhaps with its disregard for technique, but undeniably powerful. Other explosive-themed finishes are the…

10. Exocet or the…

11. Howitzer

12. Driven – Sacrificing some power for unerring direction, drives are distinctly long-range affairs (estimating the approximate yardage is an optional extra.)

13. Arrowed – Long range and top corner only.

14. Thumped – Like hammered, this act of punishment can also be applied to an entire scoreline, should the margin of victory be sufficiently comprehensive.

15. Lashed – An instinctive act, somewhat lacking in finesse, useful from short to mid-range.

16. Smashed – Popular with Richard Keys, but disappearing from view as a goalscoring verb. Still a woodwork-worthy term, however.

17. Belted – Old-fashioned – like English No.9s, centre-halves or cup-ties – belters belong at any level of the football pyramid.

18. Crashing header – Requires some victims in the process, ideally an over-protected goalkeeper, as the goalscorer gets a run on his markers to head home with at least moderate power.

19. Towering header – Equal in altitude to the crashing header, but not requiring the same amount of physical devastation.

20. Nodded – Often the simplest of tasks from close range.

21. Glancing header – A slow-motion replay delight.

22. Bullet header – Maximum velocity for this header, often making use of the power of the cross that supplied it. Likely to be scored past a statuesque goalkeeper, who is rooted to the spot.

23. Stooping header – Not high enough to be towering, nor low enough to require a…

24. Diving header – An art form, as exhibited by the likes of Keith Houchen and (shot out of a cannon) Ted MacDougall.

25. Guided – Cemented as a goalscoring verb by its inclusion in the text commentary of Championship Manager 93/94, but remains vague. Suggests some degree of craft and composure, and likely to be at least head-height.

26. With aplomb – Well-documented by Football Clichés as a word commandeered almost exclusively for use in football. Finishing with aplomb requires neatness and style, while remaining magnanimous in comparison to the…

27. Impudent chip – Impudence is best displayed by diminutive forwards such as Maradona or Messi. An impudent chip must be propelled from ground level, unlike the…

28. Audacious lob – Taken on the volley or half-volley, from in and around the penalty area.

29. Flicked – Varying in complexity within the six-yard box, almost at any height.

30. Backheeled – Invariably cheeky.

31. Dinked – A party-size version of the impudent chip, necessitated by an onrushing goalkeeper.

32. Passed – This decade is obsessed with passing and its rate of completion so it’s a little surprising that, despite teams passing opponents to death, they don’t find much time for passing the ball in. But where’s the excitement in that?

33. Caressed – A more romantic take on passing the ball in. About as tender as goalscoring gets.

34. Slotted – Often used with only the goalkeeper to beat (and also, therefore, with penalties), these goals are usually scored with the minimum of fuss.

35. Steered – The lower-body equivalent of the glancing header, perhaps. Has enough bend to evade the goalkeeper’s dive, but not quite the same amount of arc as it would if it were…

36. Curled – Often “delightfully” beating the despairing dive of the goalkeeper, who is beaten all ends up in the process.

37. Swept – From a grounded position, at close range, often from a cross delivered into the corridor of uncertainty.

38. Turned – Involves the proverbial sixpence, as the goalscorer swivels at close-range.

39. Stabbed – Not as violent as it suggests, but an ideal form of instinctive, close-combat goalscoring. Requires more power than a goal that is merely

40. prodded, or

41. poked home.

42. Stroked – Like passed, this requires the sort of significant composure found traditionally on the Continent. Stroking the ball home is also an option from the penalty spot.

43. In off the backside – The hypothetical method by which misfiring strikers’ goal droughts (which are measured in games then, knife-twistingly, hours) are recommended to be ended.

44. Deflected – Be it slight, huge or wicked, a deflection shouldn’t necessarily take anything away from the goalscorer, even if it contributed almost entirely to wrong-footing the opposing keeper.

45. Own goals (various) – Usually the result of an understandably instinctive, last-ditch attempt at an interception. In these corrupt times, a defender who is said to have “contrived” to turn the ball into his own goal risks being viewed with undeserved suspicion. Oddly, own goals frequently involve the scorer “putting through” his own net. Unfortunate own-goal scorers always have the chance to atone for their error by scoring at the right end (and, therefore, scoring at both ends), even if both goals are literally scored at the same end of the pitch.

46. Scrambled – The best goalmouth scrambles are almighty ones, especially if they incorporate a bit of pinball in the box. The ball is always scrambled “home”, perhaps reflecting the sheer relief of scoring in this kitchen-sink context.

47. Bundled – Slightly less dramatic than a scrambled effort, but not without controversy – bundled efforts may involve a “suspicion of handball” or a “hint of a foul”, both of which sound like Danielle Steel novels.

48. Plundered – Almost extinct. Long-retired journeymen strikers were said to have plundered their career goal tallies – suggesting they were genuine, fox-in-the-box poachers. Nothing wrong with that – after all, no striker really wants to be known as a scorer of great goals, but not a great goalscorer.

49. Notched – Again, a wide-ranging term for the simple act of getting on the scoresheet. Apparently (according to an old football history VHS tape from my youth) derived from the late 19th-century act of marking notches on the goalposts to keep score.

50. Netted – With the increasing obsolescence of the onion bag, less colourful references to the humble goalnet continue to suffice. To be absolutely clear – a goal need not hit the net to count as being netted. Never a problem with the shallow goalmouths of The Dell, though, I recall.

51. Bagged – It’s acceptable to store a single goal in a bag, but it’s usually braces or hat-tricks (quickfire or otherwise) that are bagged.

52. Tapped – Much like the nodded header, tap-ins represent one of the easiest goals a striker will ever score.

53. Converted – Best used for penalties that are scored in a tidy, unfussy manner – no impudent Panenkas or short run-ups here, thanks.

54. Dispatched – Bringing satisfaction to no-frills goalscorers and online purchasers for many years now.

55, Buried – A great (low-altitude) all-rounder. Implies power, decisiveness and technique and, most importantly, the ball not bouncing back out of the net.

56. Squeezed – Requires slightly more technique on the part of the goalscorer than its siblings scrambled and bundled, with such fine margins involved.

57. Slid – Another type of goal that tends to go “home” rather than merely “in”.

58. Floated – Rarely by design, floated free-kicks evade everyone in the box and nestle in the far corner. If it’s your team conceding, you’ll have spotted this depressing eventuality before the ball even entered the penalty area.

59. Sailed – More deliberate than floated, and more tranquil a goalscoring method than many above. Usually achieved from free-kicks.

60. Screamer – the airborne version of fellow goalscoring classic buried, so ingrained is it in match-reporting tradition. Cue John Motson.

61. Hooked – A fully paid-up volley, but with less emphasis on power than technique.

62. Acrobatic volley – As if bicycle kicks are some sort of forbidden brand name, some commentators prefer to call them acrobatic volleys.

63. Dipping volley – Aesthetically pleasing, even more so if they catch the bar on the way in.

64. Flying volley – Less spectacular than the acrobatic variety, but deserving of its own entry nevertheless.

65. Clipped – A deliberately subtle or deft touch to a teasing cross.

66. Trickled – Often the heartbreaking way that a ball enters the goal after a defensive mix-up between a hapless goalkeeper and one of his rearguard.

67. The slightest of touches – At first, easily mistaken as a free-kick that has found its way into the net. On closer inspection, the slightest of touches is all that is needed for a player to claim it.

68. Tucked – As tidy as it suggests, often finding its way under the goalkeeper’s dive. A low-calorie version of buried, perhaps.

69. Clinical finish – Popularised by dead-eyed hitman/marksman Ian Rush in the mid-80s. Less stylish than a goal scored with aplomb, but with noticeably more power.

70. Walking it in – This very rarely materialises, but is often threatened by teams said, by the co-commentator, to be “guilty of perhaps trying to walk the ball in at times.”

71. Cross-cum-shot – Sometimes the dubious phenomenon of being caught in two minds can pay off. Goalkeepers can be left stranded by a convenient cross-cum-shot. But did he mean it?!? Who cares.

72. Rolled (into an empty net) – Unlike the tap-in, which is put on a plate, some easy finishes need some hard work done first.

73. Sucked the ball in – This act of external assistance only happens at Anfield, apparently, and probably only on special European nights.

74. Blazed – The most spectacular way to miss a chance, assuming the ball is sent as high over the crossbar as possible. Clipping or shaving the bar is not sufficiently high.

75. Skied – Not particularly cryptic, even if the ball doesn’t literally reach the sky – although we are all obliged to joke about the ball being in orbit or, at least, eventually landing in another postcode. If a gargantuan modern stadium renders the sky unattainable, Row Z is considered an acceptable substitute. If in doubt, there’s always…

76. High, wide and not at all handsome

77. Spooned – A more comical take on clearing the crossbar, often explained by our expert co-commentator as a result of “just leaning back a bit”.

78. Screwed – Taking one’s eye off the ball can lead to this, as the ball skims off in the opposite direction to the swing of the boot.

79. Sliced – Slicing a shot so badly that it might even go out for a throw-in is one of the most undignified potential pitfalls of attempted goalscoring.

80. Dragged – The opposite of screwed, as the ball drifts too far in the intended direction.

81. Crashed (against woodwork) – Usually against the crossbar, after which the c0-commentator is placed on Crossbarwatch – informing us that it is “still shaking”.

82. Cannoned – More firearms-based imagery, for when the ball rebounds off the woodwork (usually the post, in this case) or another player.

83. The ball is in the net – Not strictly a miss, but if “the ball is in the net” there’s a fair chance the goal has subsequently been disallowed. Jeff Stelling thinks we haven’t cottoned on to this hoodwinkery yet, but we have.

84. If anything, almost hit too well – A complex phenomenon, which is covered in embarrassing detail here.

85. Fluffed his lines – Football is a pantomime at the best of times, so occasionally a player can fluff his lines from close range. On the other hand, a surprise goalscorer can deliberately deviate from the script.

86. Squandered – The only things that can be squandered are money and goalscoring chances. Both can prove costly. Squandered also sounds more desperate than merely…

87. Wasted

88. Denied by the woodwork – Players and managers are keen to find any excuse for failure, but this act of anthropomorphism is a step too far. The goalposts don’t move, after all.

89. When it seemed easier to score – A damning indictment of a miss, where the goal is gaping.

90. My Grandmother could have scored that – The relative of incredulous choice when voicing one’s disapproval at a striker who fluffs his lines.

91. Sitter – Supposedly originating from game shooting – a sitting target – this is the most traditional way to describe an easy, but squandered, goalscoring chance.

92. Saw the headlines – Very feasible. In the age of muted celebrations and pointing to the name on the back of their shirts, footballers are hyper-aware of their media coverage. Perhaps a modern take on the established “went for glory”.

93. Wild – An attempt at thundering, hammering or lashing which ends in total failure. One for raw talents. A series of wild finishes runs the risk of being labelled…

94. Erratic

95. Snatched at it – Fresh-faced youngsters – even those hailed as wonderkids or starlets – are prone to snatching at chances, possibly with one eye on the potential headlines.

96. Caught in two minds – Unless it results in a goal from a cross-cum-shot, indecisiveness is never a good thing in front of goal. A rather hasty assumption for co-commentators to make, though – sometimes shots are so bad that they look like aborted crosses, and vice versa.

97. Opted for power over placement – related to if anything, hitting the ball almost too well. Opting for power over placement often results in merely stinging the palms of the goalkeeper.

98. Gilt-edged – Tragically, some people think this is actually “guilt-edged”, which would only further compound the misser’s misery. Gilt-edged or golden (or glorious) chances are only ever deemed to be so when they are missed – no-one has ever successfully converted a gilt-edged opportunity.

99. Tame effort – Lacking in power, even when some was intended. Can lead to howls of derision from the fans if the chance is particularly gilt-edged.

100. Scuffed – Hitting the ball into the ground, but not in a manner conducive to slamming, to the detriment of power and direction. A frequent bedfellow of snatching at a chance.

101. Air-shot – The most humiliating of all misses, guaranteed to elicit a “waaaaaeeeeyyyyy!” from even the most long-suffering fans.

Goals may often be unbelievable, but they’re never indescribable.

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