Monthly Archives: June 2012

The not so beautiful game

I read a column by Gary Bainbridge today (his columns are very funny, by the way, you should read them), that told of his notgoodness (I may have made up that word) at sport. This lead me to recall the times in school that I had a go at various sports. Without much success, I hasten to add.

As it’s Euro 2012, and it’s on tv, I’ll begin with football.

My first foray into ‘proper’ sport (as opposed to just, you know, playing for fun) was in Under Tens football. I was left back for Pengam (cue ‘Left back in the changing rooms’ jokes, which wouldn’t be far off). I wasn’t picked very often. Remember 1991? You couldn’t get contact lenses then. Or, at least, I’d never heard of them. You probably could, but only if you worked for NASA, or the FBI, or SKYNET. As a glasses-wearer, but not wanting to break my glasses by having a ball smashed into them, I used to play almost blind. Generally, as I couldn’t see the ball more often than I could, my tactics were to stay back ‘protecting the goal’ until I saw people running towards me. Then I’d run towards them and try to kick something. I couldn’t be accurate enough as to try and kick the ball, so I’d just aim in the ball’s vicinity. If, by some quirk of fate or team mate’s ineptitude, the ball came to me, I’d jog forward with it until someone came towards me then I’d smash it as hard as I could in the opposite direction to the goal I was supposed to be defending. You’re now getting a feel for why I wasn’t picked to start very often, aren’t you?

The glaringly obvious disadvantages of not being able to see whilst playing football were numerous:

  • Not being able to see my team mates. Hence the ‘twat the ball in the right direction’ attitude of my play.
  • Not being able to see the referee. Which led to me, having possibly heard a whistle somewhere, not being able to see whether my team were all frantically waving me on or calling me back. I ran towards the opposition’s goal until it seemed really odd that I wasn’t being followed and just tamely kicked the ball back to the big group of players on the halfway line. Not my most embarrassing moment, which occurred thanks to:
  • Not being able to tell in which direction my team were facing. You may think that this would be obvious and easy to remember. However, when you don’t touch the ball for large portions of games, it can be easy to forget. I did once gleefully run from beyond the halfway line to my own penalty area, before recognising the blurry person between the sticks. Not my finest hour.

I did once get an award for my contribution to football. The Ivor Davies Award. I treasured it for ages. Until I thought about it and realised that the award was (although slightly nicer worded) ‘For turning up week after week, not really being picked very often, and not getting any better despite coming to training all the time. Isn’t it time you retired from football?’ Award. It was some sort of lifetime achievement award for being crap but always showing up. I think it was a hint – ‘You’ll never win anything else, might as well give up now’.

And that was the end of my competitive football career. I never made the jump to the Under Twelves. It wasn’t like ‘quitting while I was ahead’.More like, well…..just quitting, really. Maybe I should’ve taken up karate, or chess, or computer programming at a young age instead.

Coming soon: My less than average Track & Field ability; Rugby for the blind; Almost-brilliance at Ultimate Frisbee and others…!