Here’s a solution that’s not about technology.
Most of the blow-ups that we’ve had since goal reviews were introduced have been around the most difficult decision of all, the touched ball. But really, we don’t have to get ourselves into a knot over the idea that a ball was touched off the kicker’s boot or whether the diving, thrusting defender’s little pinky moved a centimetre or so, as Adam Kennedy’s did on Thursday night.
Quite frankly, even with television replays it’s difficult to tell when a ball has been touched. And you can’t trust the players, who will always claim to have landed a piece of skin on the Sherrin. So something else is required.
It’s simple. Just call it a goal if it goes through the big sticks. That’s right. Touched ball means nothing under the new rule.
After all, it doesn’t mean anything in other codes. In world football, a goalkeeper gets a hand on his or her attempt to save a penalty, but it slides past and into the net. That’s a goal. A basketball defender’s swishing attempt to block a shot deflects the ball into the backboard and then into the net. Count it.
Footy should be the same and probably always should have been. What exactly is the use of that particular rule? All it does is cause us angst.
I can hear you screaming: “What about the defender on the goal line, leaping and getting a fingertip to the ball to save his team on the last line?”
Well, that’s fine. If he or she wants to prevent a goal, he or she has to mark the ball. Or belt it back into play. Now that’d be worth seeing! More scoring, and more opportunities. Don’t we have a problem with the level of scoring right now?
So really, the score reviews (which should be done properly and are worth having) should be for the odd occasion when an umpire gets it completely wrong and doesn’t realise a ball has hit the post; think Tom Hawkins in the 2009 grand final.
There. It’s fixed now. Can we move on to something else? My pleasure.
Martin Blake is a Sports production journalist and writer for The Age.