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Delirious With Weird

Tuesday, September 09, 2003  
Last minute. The floodlights are off on the far pitch and the people who were playing or training or whatever over there are walking past. Some of them are on our third of the Astroturf now, walking back towards the gate behind the goal my team are attacking. The fat lady is singing. It’s 6-all. I’m on the left wing and Jim delivers the ball to me. Martin Henson is between me and the goal. It is very much the last minute. Martin is a big man and not young, incredibly skilful and with years of experience; but he’s not a defender. A touch with the left foot, I’m not sure where it’s going but I know where I want it to go; between his legs. It goes there, Martin is unbalanced and stumbles, teetering in the right direction to allow me to nip round and touch the ball back on to my right foot. But it bobbles, someone else is there, it knocks off them and back towards me, too high, and my step is out of synch with the ball, it hits my left thigh and moves forward slightly, knee height and 18, 24 inches away… Left foot, gentle but with a sense of ultimate purpose, the ball nearer the ground now, beneath and through and round at the same time, not clipped or hit but struck and struck perfectly at that, across the defender and the keeper and inexorably into the top far-corner! “Oh yes!”

People walking behind the goal and one of them stops and says “fucking good goal mate”, never seen him before, never see him again, for that split-second he’s my favourite person. Oh wow. What’s that feeling? Complete loss of conscious thought, complete surrender to instinct. It wasn’t me that struck that ball, it was my foot… If that makes sense. I’ve had a shit day and now it’s all alright. More than alright. I scored three goals and we won 7-6. Last-minute winner. Is that shallow? I don’t think so. It’s almost better than any song, that feeling as- no, not as but just before the ball hits the back of the net, the entire, endless and yet still non-existent moment from connection of foot and ball to the arrival of the ball in its proper place (the top corner!), the instant just before the ball pushes the net backwards and outwards… That’s the best feeling, when inevitability kicks in and no one can stop it, the second before climax.


9/09/2003 11:51:00 pm


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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005