Stephen Walsh provides an insight into the life of a man whose invention revolutionised football; John Alexander Brodie and the creation of the net.
Liverpool is a city famous throughout the world for a host of reasons. Perhaps it is the fact that the Beatles originated from there and had a whole host of number one songs. Or maybe it is because it’s the most successful city in European football with the city’s two main clubs Liverpool and Everton winning numerous trophies including 27 league titles, 4 European Cups and 11 FA cups.
Also Stephenson’s Rocket was tried out in the City in 1829 before going nationwide and helping public transport right across Britain.
However, the purpose of this article is to talk about the impact John Alexander Brodie had on sport right across the globe.
Outside of sport he was an important engineer who helped to plan and design New Dehli, India and was also the chief engineer for the Mersey Tunnel, something that is still in use today. I will now bring you back to 1889 and why he invented his invention that is in use right across the globe today.
Brodie’s beloved Everton were disallowed a legitimate goal against Accrington Stanley that cost them victory in an important match and he was so infuriated with the decision that he decided to come up with a solution to solve the problem of goals being disallowed. Brodie decided to invent the goal net so as to keep spectators off the line as back then they often stopped goals from going in and to stop contentious calls from officials. He first used it in Stanley Park in 1889 and the following year applied for a patent that was accepted by the authorities.
He convinced the FA to trial his goal nets in 1891 in Nottingham Forest’s Town Ground for a North vs. South game. Funnily enough for Brodie it was an Everton player Fred Geary who scored the first goal in this match and was legally the first player to ever hit the back of the net. An Everton player Edgar Chadwick also scored that day to help the North run out winners on a 3-0 score line.
Of course judging by the newspaper reports that followed the next day not everybody was fully supportive of the idea with the Birmingham Post saying, the trial proved inconclusive:
‘There was no question about any of the goals scored, and the efficacy of the nets could not be judged.”
While on the other hand the Yorkshire Herald thought it was a great idea:
“The goal nets introduced by a Liverpool man were used and were considered by the goalkeeper a very useful introduction.”
In September 1891 the Football League decided that the nets should be used in all matches.
It didn’t take long for the Birmingham Post to support the idea of the nets when the local team Aston Villa won a match that they wouldn’t have were it not for the nets, with the match report saying:
“The goal nets were a great service, as two of the points scored by the Villa were from shots just under the bar, and from a distance it was difficult to tell whether the ball had gone through. Finding the ball inside the net, however, does away with doubt, and the referee is prevented from giving a questionable decision.”
He passed away in 1934 and Liverpool City Council named a road “Brodie Avenue” after this great engineer. Next time you score a screamer playing astro give a little thought to this engineer.
Stephen Walsh, Pundit Arena.