Any time up to around six months ago if anybody were to ask, nobody did, but if they had asked “what do you miss about England?” – it would have been the beginning of a very short conversation.
“My local pub and playing football.”
And that would be it. Unless, of course, I felt obliged to go further and explain that I used to play five aside football two evenings a week, (Thursdays and Sundays) and always went to the pub after the Sunday game.
When I quit England aged 49 and a half it was generally accepted that I was also hanging up my boots, and as there is no pub in the suburb where I live, I was pretty much giving up pubs too.
But if anyone were to ask me that exact same question today, it’d be an even shorter conversation.
So why the difference?
Firstly, I have begun to warm to my local sports club, the “Sports and Rec” which has two bars and an outdoor patio deck and has become a perfectly adequate substitute for my local back in England.
Secondly, about 10 weeks ago I got an email that said “six a side soccer tournament starting Wednesday nights, interested?” My brain was but my body wanted to run a mile, it just didn’t have the energy. Anyway, my brain answered the email so I was in.
There were eight teams in the league and we each had to play each other once. Our team, an exciting mix of English and Australian “talent” with a wee hint of Scot, is called Hardly Athletic……
And after four games we’d won three, lost one and found ourselves going into the fifth match as joint leaders and we were playing in the team sitting right at the top with us, the Swamp Donkeys.
This was the clash of the Titans! Except one Titan was bigger than the other. Remember the Sports and Rec? Well, bigger boys play proper 11 a side football in a real league there. Swamp Donkeys consisted of players from that team.
But like David when he was up against Goliath, we were fearless! Unfortunately, that didn’t stop us getting beat 4 – 1.
The following week we were beaten by Moggilites 3 – 1 and that meant we needed to win our final game against Colleges United if we were going to make the top four.
We were very confident, our top scorer Paul, who had probably netted at least nine of our 16 goals, was in unstoppable form.
He was also in Sydney on the day of that final game. Could we secure the points without him?
In the first half, Ian bursts through….
….. and scores an early goal to settle our nerves. A further goal in the second half seals it. We are in the playoffs for the final! The crowd go wild! (ahem).
We are now into the knockout stage and tonight we play The Dirt Trackers. If we win that, next week we’ll play the losers of the other game tonight between first and second place, the winners of that game qualify immediately for the final.
Kick-off is in less than an hour, so I’ve got to go. I’ll let you know how we get on later.
But before I go I would like to thank the highly talented graphic design company mc3 for their sponsorship of Hardly Athletic. The $5 came in very handy. Well, it probably will, when he pays it!
The “Later” Update
“They think it’s all over…..”
Lost 2 – 0.
“….it is now!”