FwB #8: Scott Carson

The World Cup came and went. The English Football League has kicked off. Transfer Deadline Day has passed, and Footballers with Beards returns…!

Whilst it’s been a while since I’ve posted (mainly due to moving house, dealing with ISPs, spending time in New York and working more than I’d have liked to), things haven’t been particularly ‘hot’ on the beard front to warrant an update anyway. The World Cup, as if the football itself never really burst to life, didn’t really impress in the facial hair stakes either. Valiant efforts by Oguchi Onyewu, Daniele De Rossi and Djamel Abdoun aside, South Africa sought to deny us a plethora of global bearded sports stars.

And so the domestic football season starts, and I begin my journey through 2010/11’s bearded movers and shakers (or should that be ‘shavers’?), at the beginning of an (already yawnful) international break. As a Birmingham City fan these internationals have rarely provided any reason to be genuinely interested, yet following Joe Hart’s cementing of the number one goalkeeping jersey, and Ben Foster’s latest call-up, I may at least attempt to watch ITV’s sychophantic coverage.

Scott Carson hasn’t exactly had the easiest of footballing rides, be it for club or country, yet at still only 24 years he’s done a hell of a lot. After being picked up by the Leeds Academy playing for non-league Workington, Carson made a handful of appearances as Paul Robinson’s understudy, and in the January transfer window of ’05 he moved to Liverpool. Yet over a period of 3 years where he would continue to play the understudy (this time for Jerzy Dudek and later, Pepe Reina), he was loaned to Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic and Aston Villa. Finally, in July 2008 he was bought by West Brom and has remained the number one keeper at the yo-yo’ing Midlands club since his arrival.

Yet I’ve compacted Carson’s club career into one long paragraph because, for me, it’s his presence (or lack of presence) on the international scene that is the most intriguing. For two years prior to Capello’s naming of the England squad last Sunday Carson has been conspicious by his absence. With David James, Rob Green, Joe Hart and Ben Foster being ahead of him in the pecking order, and even the likes of Robinson, Stockdale, Loach and Fielding getting a look-in, Carson’s Croatian horror show has sought to keep him off the scene.

And despite the recent call-up I’ve never been quite sure of what to make of him. A player with obvious ability, experience and command, and over 70 appearances as first-choice keeper at a now Premier League club, he’s been prone to rountine error, often lacks concentration, and been on the wrong side of some severe defeats.

Joe Hart, undoubtedly for me, is England’s number one. His performances for Blues last year were quite phenomenal, and having displaced Shay Given as Moneybags FC’s keeper-of-choice, vital gametime is certain for him. In Ben Foster the current Birmingham side have an able individual; with a sweet left foot, a portfolio of acrobatic saves, and a welcome return to the current England squad. For Carson it’s not so easy. At club level he’s safe. At international level he needs to prove himself again.

But at FwB there is always another consideration. Joe Hart doesn’t have one. Neither does Foster. Or Robinson. Or Kirkland. Or Green, Stockdale, Loa….etc. You get the jist. Carson’s secret weapon may well be his (at the time of writing) most prominent. And a la Joey Barton (who shaved his moustache off following Newcastle’s second week drubbing of Villa) maybe Carson’s career would benefit from a hair-based bet, something along the lines of only shaving his beard when he makes another appearance for the full England team? At FwB we can only hope that doesn’t come too soon…(sorry Scott)

Carson may get another punt on the international scene this week...

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