Saturdays these days usually means listening to the totally unbiased commentary on the 'Hearts World' site. While I am listening to their clear, sophisticated, objective discussions on the game in front of them, and the nonsense spouted by those commenting on the relevant facebook site, I spend much of that time burning the 'Flanders Stew.' Today was different! With no football because of the international break I looked around for something to satisfy my intellect and I soon found it - I fell asleep!
When I awoke, about three this afternoon, I drained a pint of coffee and decided to get the bike out and develop some energy. I steered the rusty velocipede towards King George's Fields where I hoped there might be a kick around of some sort taking place, I know there is a rugby club plays there. Indeed there was, just before reaching the rugby club I found two teams, dressed like Dundee United and Scotland slugging it out with all the energy two teams of far from fit young men can slug.
The one thing that always stands out for me while watching 'grass roots football' is the way folks kick the ball. We become used to professional players, yes even the Christian Nade's and Kirk Broadfoots of this world, being able to kick the ball over a hundred yards and find someone on their side. In Park football finding a man twenty yards from you is difficult for many! However as we have all played there, and I confess to losing more goals in one season than any Hibernian goalkeeper could do during a fifteen year career, we know it is not the quality that counts, it's the game itself! If we can produce a good save, a telling pass, or score a goal to boast about then it is all worth while. I have seen some people who play hard because they feel they have missed out on a career they ought to have had. Others who realise they would never have made it and after the age of eighteen no longer check the passers by to see if they may be a wandering scout. The only thing such players check these days are the girls watching and the closeness of the local pubs!
Alas my hard life forcing me to sleep did mean I arrived well after the second half of this game had started and I could not tell which of these evenly matches sides were winning. This appears to be one of those leagues where folks tend to get on with the game. Most of the time folks played the ball and while there were some hard tackling there was little reaction to them. Only one incident near the end when a tackle, hard but fair ball winning tackle, left a player in tangerine feeling aggrieved. His attempt to wrap his legs around the tackler in yellow led to a swift kick in the back and a short period of dissension amongst the two sides. Good refereeing allowed both to continue after a few words, and the game ended shortly afterwards. On a more local park I have come across a Sunday League game which features that type of 'hard man' who spends the entire game shouting rude words at the ref, even if he himself is not watching the action. You know the type. Tackling hard and willing to confront anyone who objects, yet the first to complain if things go against him. This appears to be the only league like it around here as most of the games I have seen are usually played by those who have no need to drag their knuckles on the ground.
Both sides here contained the 'airy fairy' type of player, the one who falls over in a strong wind, and both also possessed one built like a wall, probably nearer to sixteen stone than to eight, and neither of these Goliaths ran more than ten yards with or without the ball! One did remind me of Gary Caldwell, possibly this was more to do with his silky touch rather than his ape like features however. There was one word of advice I would give the yellow sides goalkeeper, don't just fall down when the ball comes towards you, 'leap' towards it, that way your hand will not be so far from it as it hits the post and goes in.
Oh to be a teen or twenty again! There are times I want to rush out and kick the ball around as in days of yore! Only the heart seizure and bad knee stops me doing this now. The last game I played in was in 1977, and we drew 4-4 with the Spanish Church at a Passchendaele like Wormwood Scrubs. That is on the pitches outside the prison, nothing to do with being inside it by the way. Wiping mud of my glasses when in goals is probably one reason I let in so many, another may well be the difficulty of seeing the ball through the stained lens, yet another may be incompetence but I would deny this! However watching football today I realise just how my goalkeeping has improved as I can always tell whether it was a keepers mistake or someone else's. It is ALWAYS a defenders fault!
Naturally coming home I now have to make my dinner and a pot full of 'Flanders Stew.' This is easy as I put my one in the oven while doing the stew on the top. Having finished making the stew I looked for my evening repast and discovered some fool had forgotten to switch on the oven! Oh Joy.......