Thursday, February 24, 2005
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.
2/24/2005 09:55:00 am