Who’s going in goal?’’ It’s a question that many of us who have played football in any shape or form will have heard.
Unless you are one of the band of brothers who enjoys flinging yourself around the goalmouth, players will often avoid eye contact or walk away from the captain to avoid taking the gloves.
On many occasions it is the skipper himself who agrees to step into the breach. This week on the Albion Unlimited podcast on BBC Sussex we were reminded that it wasn’t that long ago that only two substitutions were allowed.
Former Seagulls captain Gary Chivers told me that he had to become a makeshift goalkeeper in the 1991-92 season when the number one Perry Digweed was injured in the warm-up.
Substitutions for injured players started in this country in the 1960s and it was not until 1980s that rules were changed to accommodate a second. Now of course we are used to three subs in league games and seven available on the bench.
The legion of subs and backroom staff on the touchline nowadays is a far cry from the lone wolf sitting under the perspex alongside the manager. It is an indication of how football has changed from a team game to a squad game.
Nearly 30 years on from that match that Gary mentioned, Brighton and Hove Albion take on Millwall once again.
This year the FA Cup has certainly been a squad affair for the Seagulls. It has been a good chance for those on the fringes of the Premier League starting 11 to get some game time.
However, Chris Hughton did also have to call on a substitute, Glenn Murray, to provide the quality to see them through against West Bromwich Albion.
In the League just over a week ago it was Florin Andone who stripped off his tracksuit and fired home to give the Albion a 1-0 win over Huddersfield in the Premier League.
The game this Sunday will be decided on the day, after 90 minutes, extra-time or even penalties.
It may well be that those players who miss out on a place from the start are called upon to make a difference as the action continues.
After FA Cup rounds the newspapers often splash a huge picture of the hero from the weekend’s action.
With a chance of reaching a Wembley semi-final every squad member should be straining to be involved, despite the hostile reception expected from the crowd.
However, it could well be that the next Seagulls’ FA Cup hero may start the afternoon warming his seat behind Chris Hughton. That may even be the goalkeeper. Fans may not remember Gary’s gesture to go in goal that day at The Den years ago but every supporter and the whole squad may well have lifelong memories courtesy of a magical moment from a replacement.
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