Brodie, Colman, and Widdowson may sound like a law firm, but these three names should be remembered because persistent innovations have changed football and stood firm over time.
Imagine what a goal would look like without a net? Even, the net adds spice to the art of scoring.
Whether it’s a beautiful volley from outside the penalty area – think of Andros Townsend’s shout against Man City in 2018 – or a classy finish from inside 5.50 meters in a net has adorned the goal. Without the finesse and foresight of a Victorian engineer from Liverpool, we might not be able to enjoy the feeling of the net vibrating.
The first set of rules, published by the FA in 1863, ruled that the goalposts should be 7.32 meters apart – one of the original rules still in operation today. The crossbar was introduced later, initially only as a ribbon in 1866, before the beams became mandatory in 1882. Interestingly, one of the most controversial goals in history has been recorded on the 100th anniversary of the launch of the crossbar.
A few decades later, the net came about thanks to John Alexander Brodie, an engineer from Liverpool who designed the first UK ring road, the Mersey Tunnel (the world’s longest underwater tunnel at the time), and most of the architecture is in New Delhi. In October 1889, Brodie, an Everton fan, came to see his team meet Accrington Stanley at Anfield (Everton’s home ground at the time). Everton thinks they have scored the decisive goal, but with just the goalposts and crossbars to judge, no one can be completely sure whether the shot has crossed the goalpost. So they have to accept a draw.
Brodie was so angry that he tried to find a solution. He came up with the idea of creating a bag containing a ball that could lie after crossing the goal. Brodie works with a variety of different grid designs. One of his revolutionary ideas is to attach a bell to the net and it will sound when the ball touches them. This is the original prototype of goal-line technology later.
He was granted a patent the following year and the net passed a test in a representative match north-south in Nottingham. The first goal to score was an Everton player, Fred Geary. More interesting is the match held by whistle by Sam Weller Widdowson, who invented the shin pads later. Within just 1 year, the mesh was added to FA rules. It was in the FA Cup final for the first time in 1891 and was put into use the following season.