Sunday, June 25, 2006

Football crazy

All this World Cup stuff has the kids out on the green space opposite the house kicking footballs up and down into a fold-up plastic goal from the Argos catalogue. It even has a net.

When the Ryder Cup is on the telly, golfballs will be whizzing by the windows night and day.

We did the exact same as kids, other than the fact that money was scarce, so the luxury of a "real goal" with a net wasn't an option. Instead the goals were marked with either two or four piles of jumpers or coats. Arguments raged over high shots being "over", as there was no crossbar, but I don't remember many rows over balls hitting the imaginary posts.

There were usallly two of three of the "big boys" who were better at soccer skills (or who thought they were) and so these naturally were the team captains who would pick the teams. My skill at football amounted to owning a ball and writing all over it and little more, so I tended to be in the bottom league of choice picks, usually last or second last. I didn't mind. I would infuriuate everyone by "hatching" almost in the goalie's pocket so that if the ball came remotely near me I'd have a good chance of scoring. This was considered unsportsmanlike conduct, but was only ever brught up by the team scored against, not by my team-mates.

As Edmondstown National School gradually lost children in the late 1970s the number of playmates dwindled until every boy, regardless of the class he was in or whether he knew how to tie shoelaces yet was drafted into the daily game. As many of the pupils had defected to the modern Scoil Mhuire in Ballyboden, we started an after-school game: Edmondstown vs Scoil Mhuire. It was a daily drubbing on the soccer field for Edmondstown, I'm afraid. I think we may have managed a draw once, by some miracle.

A brother from the Augustinian College would occasionally act as a real impartial referee when it got to the stage where we couldn't be trusted to keep the rules ourselves. Until then, any disagreement was referred to the final arbitration of a short wresting match between the captains. We tended to lose at that as well, so the introduction of a referee was a positive step.

I've seen a few professional players at the World Cup kicking the air and falling flat on their faces as nerves get the better of them on this high occasion. Glad to see my skill sets are not unique.


Karlos said...

Really nice article! Brought back some great memories of football as a kid! Kids haven't lived until they have used jumpers For goalposts!!

Willie_W said...

Thanks Karlos. These days I have more understanding of my mother biting through a wooden spoon-handle at the sight of grass-stains on school trousers. Saw a kid yesterday playing in white tracksuit bottoms and thought fondly of dear old Mom.

fitz said...

. . . 24-20 to our team and the game carries over to tomorrow, right ? . . . "fly goalie" . . .

Willie_W said...

No offside. If the leather football is kicked off the back of the shelter wall it's a free kick.

Just remembered the leather football used to go egg-shaped after a while from drying indoors after getting wet.