Picture the scene; it’s Friday evening, the working week is done and you’re halfway through your second pint. Packets of crisps lie invitingly on an oak table and the weekend is giving you a warm and hoppy embrace. Life is good.
One pub question that’s surely been asked in such circumstances is whether you’d be able to score a Premier League goal. Yes, you with the dodgy knees and back fat.
Some of us, given the consumption of liquid confidence and face-saving bravado, lower our glass onto the table and declare they’d score between three and six. The meeker settle for a single, life-affirming moment of glory.
In reality, we’d all score none. Even if Kevin de Bruyne was feeding us passes and the opposition keeper decided to scroll through TikTok instead of guarding his net.
The sheer pace of your average Premier League match would leave us a shattered wreck within minutes, yearning for the sanctuary of the dressing room and the anonymity that comes with having un-coordinated feet.
But the A-League? Sure, why not? Your average Australian is infatuated with surfing and cricket, considering ‘soccer’ with the same regard as a curled egg sandwich at a wedding buffet.
And we’d especially fancy our chances if we found ourselves in the same position as Sydney FC’s Patrick Wood, who’d done the hard part in hustling Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic into coughing up possession in his own penalty area.
Presented with a goal so vacant that it could’ve been named after Liz Truss, Wood simply had to dot the I’s and cross the T’s to give his side a 4-0 lead with barely half an hour played.
Instead, the 21-year-old conspired to drag his side-footed effort wide from practically on the goalline. Speculation that Wood had been momentarily possessed by the spirit of Chris Iwelumo remain unconfirmed at the time of writing.
HOW HAS HE MISSED THAT?! 😱
Head in hands moment for Sydney FC's Patrick Wood, who misses an astonishing opportunity from point-blank range 🤦♂️
One of the WORST misses we've seen in football 😬
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) February 10, 2024
Describing the miss, commentators said: “You will never see that again. That is the most astonishing miss.
“Poor old Pat Wood, he must be wishing the ground would just swallow him up. It should be 4-0.” You don’t say.
Sydney went on to win the match 3-1 with Wood, possibly the first human in recorded history to suffer with burning ears for over an hour, being substituted in the 61st minute.
To prevent his career from being defined by this brain fart, the young striker will have to lead Australia to World Cup glory, winning the Golden Boot in the process, and beat Mbappe and Haaland to the Ballon d’Or.
All elite athletes possess the ability to overcome such setbacks with belief in their own ability and a bloody-minded determination to keep going – the very quality that makes Darwin Nunez such a compelling footballer.
Wood has scored 14 goals in 70 games for Sydney, a handy record for a player at the start of his career, and will treat his next strike with the cathartic release of frustration normally reserved for when a slow-moving tractor pulls over and allows you to pass on a country road.
But his Central Coast cock-up will be bought up by flabby Brits in darkened pubs, bullishly declaring that even they could score chances of that ilk.
They may have a point, on this rare occasion.
By Michael Lee