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Thursday, February 24, 2005  
Soccer


On Tuesday I was bullied into playing football despite the hideous cold I’m currently getting over (last three days = gravely voice and occasional exorcism of flecks of phlegm via husky cough [ladies my voice is sexy] – worst part = last Thursday when it started with that awful sore throat which you just know presages a week or more of feeling like shit) because my brother had insisted we still play despite the fact that most of our team are Arsenal and Liverpool fans, and hence would be staying in out of the cold to watch their Champions League endeavours. Not so for me – older brother whinges and bitches at me until I feel guilty and relent to running around in sub-zero temperatures on leg-deadening Astroturf. Bastard.

Only seven of us turned up, and on the next pitch there were 5 youngsters (mid-to-late teens) being put through their paces by their coach / trainer / manager. They looked fit. They had bibs. They did a proper warm-up. We’ve seen them train every week for the last year and sometimes they run around cones and all sorts of other scary shit like that. “Our team” on Tuesday comprised two 17 year olds who are just stepping up to Sunday morning football, my decrepit 34 year old brother with bad ankles, Nigel (mid 30s), Rick (mid 30s) and John (25) the goalkeeper who thinks he’s a striker. And me – 25, lazy, a stone overweight, and riddled with malaria almost to the point of respiratory failure.

So we challenged these super-duper kids to a game.

Oh foolhardy souls. A game against STRANGERS, and YOUNG STRANGERS at that.

Younger, fitter, technically more skilful, better drilled – we stuffed them 6-2. I scored three or four, nutmegged one of them in wonderfully cheeky fashion, and missed a handful of chances too, including a spectacular angled volley reminiscent of that infamous Van Basten goal (only mine went slightly over) and a couple of lovely curled chips which hit the post or landed on the roof of the net. The fact that I kept trying to race past people only to stop halfway and hack up my lungs notwithstanding, I played pretty well, certainly much better than last week, but me scoring a few goals wasn’t the reason we won against the kids. It was down to experience and composure, teamwork. We knew our strengths and weaknesses better than they did, knew how to keep the ball, didn’t throw people forward leaving holes at the back, created chances without faffing around, and took most of those chances too.

I’m meant to be playing again tonight with the university guys. In the snow. At the highest point in Exeter. I may be some time.

NJS

2/24/2005 09:55:00 am

9 Comments:

Blogger El Chimpador - 10:34 pm

I know that feeling. Almost all of our team are stricken with the snot-driven nasties at the moment (myself especially).

We're in one of those Pitch Invasion organised leagues, so we had to show up yesterday. The conditions were horrific, but somehow we put on our best performance of the season (11-4, I think) and earned promotion to the top flight. As our team motto says: Nos Somos Awesome.

 
Blogger Ian - 9:57 pm

"nutmegged"?

 
Blogger Nick - 8:53 am

It's when you knock the ball through an opposing player's legs, Ian - either as a pass to one of your own players or as part of a dribble where you then run past the player and retreive the ball yourself. Cockney rhyming slang for "through the legs" - "nutmeg".

 
Blogger El Chimpador - 5:41 pm

Speaking of which, what is the exact etiquette when it comes to nutmegging???

I was bitchslapped by one of my team for not 'calling' the nutmeg. I thought that'd just be taking the piss, and I had more important things on my mind (like the next ball).

Is there an unspoken rule of conduct with the 'meg???

 
Blogger Nick - 8:57 am

Generally I laugh really loud and demand 50p off them for being a bandy-legged sap.

 
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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


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