Sunday morning football is not something I was ever involved with. I am not sure it occurred in Edinburgh in those days though I think many played on Saturday afternoons, the schools certainly played on Saturday mornings. We ourselves having left school and unable for reasons we failed to understand took to playing football on Sunday afternoons at the Meadows while attempting to listen to John Peel offering proper music on a distant transistor radio. This was not a success.
Maybe I misunderstand but it appears to me England was full of people playing football on Sunday mornings. This seems to still be the thing to do but as I rarely pass the fields on Saturday's I do not know if anyone plays there at that time.
It is a long time since I last stood between the goalposts, feet inches deep in mud, thoroughly enjoying myself in spite of the score. Wormwood Scrubs, 11:30 in the morning, around 1976 or 77, I reckon was the last game I played. We drew four all with the Spanish church. The sounds of the players cries, the thud of the ball as it bounces of the bonce, the emotions aroused when you score or lose a goal, the smell of the grass or ought I say mud as face down you grasp for the ball near the goaline, all such things remain in the memory and please the heart, unlike the aches and bruises found the next day.
These events today were put on by the local football club which struggles near the bottom of what is called the 'national league,' and unofficially called the 'Fifth Division.' Partly because this gives coaching to young players who one day might bring fame and fortune to the club and partly because such 'community efforts' help encourage the council to back the club in its drive to build a new and much needed stadium players of all sorts can be found here on Sunday mornings no matter the weather.
The earnest kids play a disciplined game such as we at that age never comprehended, their knowledge of tactics far outweighs mine, their positional sense at seven years old is greater than mine will ever be, and maybe one day they will indeed make it to the top division and even their national side.
parents, often under strict instructions regarding their behaviour, shouting or attitudes towards the referee watch on keenly interested in their offspring's development. Mums shiver behind the coffee mug obtained from the pie stall trailer that makes a good living from the watchers, Dads once more fantasise about success, this time for their son, wishing they knew then what they know now and on occasion running the line trying their best to keep within the spirit off the game and give correct decisions. Others find some degree of enjoyment racing after a loose shot as the ball runs down the slope and bodies no longer used to running begin to stiffen before they have returned the ball to the playing area. Glancing at the pie stall they wonder if they ought to buy something or wait until later and visit the 'Coach & Horses' instead?
They even have girls teams pretending they are men on occasion. It is clear from those involved that few will make it to a higher level though one girl I saw on an earlier occasion might make it playing rugby! For most of them fun is the main thing though I notice few girls team in recent weeks, maybe the weather was too cold!
One problem I find is that if you don't make it into a 'team' you might not play football in any place. Until the late 70's or the early 80's football was played in open spaces five night a week in every part of the country, now it is played in school playgrounds if there is space or not at all. I wonder if the lack of natural talent has been lost because few now play in these sometimes 20 a side games with players of various ability? The great skillful players of yesteryear all came though such football education and I wonder if this is losing talent that ought to be allowed to develop before such coaching is used.
It also loses many who get discouraged early on and fail to just enjoy the game, played at their own ability level, for fun with little thought of a future career. Playing for fun, in spite of the weather, also involves team spirit, meeting strangers, a wee bit of travel and again more fun! We cannot all make the top level but we can make fun out of the game with friends surely?