new frontiers (issue 8)

Goalkeepers - A Race Apart

In March 1993, Bruce Grobbelaar was sent to hospital for a brain x-ray after Zimbabwe's World Cup qualifier in Egypt during which he was struck on the head by a missile. The x-ray confirmed that he has a brain.

Trouble at a World Cup qualifier between Algeria and Ghana. Protests by the Ghanian keeper that he was blinded by the flash of photographer's camera at every Algerian attack were overruled.

Bruce Grobbelaar arranged a trial at Derby County as a 15 year old that fell through. Later, in 1978, he spent 5 months on trial (verdict : released) with West Bromwich Albion. He couldn't obtain a work permit. Two weeks at Bournemouth proved no better. Then he went to Canada to play for Vancouver Whitecaps.

A few years ago, playing at Wimbledon, Portsmouth conceded a goal which resulted in keeper Alan Knight receiving attention to his knee. From the restart, Pompey's Noel Blake received the ball and passed it back to Knight. Knight was rubbing his injured knee and didn't see the ball go past him into the net. 0-2. The goal is probably the only instance of a team scoring a goal without touching the ball.

In 1979, Grobbelaar made only one appearance in his first season stateside. His teammates included Alan Ball, David Harvey, Phil Parkes, Kevin Hector, Trevor Whymark, Willie Johnston and Rudi Krol. The following season he made 25 appearances.

Manchester United beat Nantwich Town 23-0 in the FA Youth Cup in 1952. So impressed were United with the Nantwich keeper that they signed him. He never made a Football League appearance.

During his American close season, Grobbelaar made 24 appearances for Crewe. His last one was against York on May 3, 1980. Made captain for the day, he was told he could take a penalty if one came along. It did. He says, "When I went upfield, the York keeper (Dick Taylor, on loan from Huddersfield) asked me where I reckoned I'd put the ball, I told him to his right. But as I reminded him after I'd blasted the ball into the roof of the net, I hadn't said whether I'd be shooting high or low".

A couple of months earlier, City had sacked manager Charlie Wright. Wright was a former Hong Kong international keeper.

Bruce Grobbelaar has played for his country at soccer and also baseball.

When I was at school, goalkeepers were usually the centre forward having a rest in goal. Whatever, they could kick the ball as well as any outfield player. How come most professional keepers seem to have lost all the ball playing skills?

Liverpool were the only club who persisted in resolving Grobbelaar's work permit problems. The rest is history.


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