Author's Note: A young boy from Northern Wales was watching (association) football one day. He turned to his father and asked a simple, yet profound question. I've provided the answer here:

Why Goalkeepers?

Since the time before time, there has been football. Long before the long-ago; before the Premier League, before the FA, even before Ryan Giggs, there was football. Oh, but football was much different then, such that you would hardly recognize it. The teams were of any size you'd like, from the five-a-side pick-up games that boys and girls still play today, to mass hordes of players. The rules were only followed loosely, as there were no referees (that's a story for another day), and neither safety nor integrity were much prized on the pitch. But, still, where there was a flat pitch of grass and a ball, there were men and women playing football.

One day in the long-ago, Pwyll Pen Annwfn sent a message to High King Cormac of Ireland. "One year from today," it said, "we shall have a football match. Gather your side, and prepare to face us." A reply was received, and Douglas was chosen as the location (as the Manx are notoriously poor at football, it was deemed to be as neutral a place as any).

Pwyll set about organizing his side – his wife Rhiannon's speed would be needed at fullback, Owain and Culhwch's fortitude would anchor central midfield, and Gwydion's guile was needed at striker. Pwyll himself would play central defense, alongside his old friends Teyrnon and Arawn. With other great and noble Welshmen and- women he filled out the rest of his roster, and they began to practice with the 5-2-4 formation that was favored among the nobility of the day.

When the day came for their match against the Irish, Pwyll and his team were confident. And as the whistle blew, ever more so. Lleu, the recessed center forward, was ambitious, and made many forays into the Irish penalty area. And Gwydion appeared out of nowhere behind the central defense, ready to slot the ball into the goal. But stout Cernunnos sat behind the four Irish defenders, and his horns filled the Irish goal, so that there was no place to put the ball past him.

Pwyll saw this, and at halftime he spoke with the Irish captain, Finn McCool. In addition to being a fine holding midfielder, Finn was also a just and noble man, and when he heard Pwyll's complaints, he thought seriously on them. Ireland was up 1 goal to nil, and yet Wales had had over 2/3rds of the possession.

"You have no players with horns of their own," Finn said, after bringing his team from the locker room after halftime. "I can see this. We sit Cernunnos in the goal mouth because he has no skills with his feet. Perhaps we can find a way to make this equitable after all."

"May God in His time repay your wisdom and patience, oh noble Finn McCool," Pwyll replied. "What did you have in mind?"

"Were one of your fleet-of-foot players to stand in goal, and by use of his hands block any such ball as threatens his goal, I believe there would be no such advantage between our sides," Finn said. Pwyll agreed to these terms, and the match did continue.

Pwyll moved Gwydion into this new position, and substituted his son Pryderi for Arawn, who'd been at fault on the Irish goal. Pryderi was moved up to take Gwydion's place at striker, . Gwydion, upon hearing of his role, enlarged his hands so as to provide as much coverage as Cernunnos's horns, and the remaining 45 minutes were played, ending in a 1-1 draw, after a 78th minute tally by Pryderi through Cernunnos's legs.

King Arthur, upon hearing of this match, was much moved at the sportsmanship and ingenuity shown on the pitch at Douglas that day, and declared that throughout the realm of Britain, no game of football should be played, unless there be one in goal who may use his hands.

And so it has been since.