Nasty Bobble

Further anecdotes from the pissy toilet seat of Sunday league football…

The horror of the horror miss! You should’ve scored, but you didn’t. In the blink of an eye you failed completely. Everyone now hates you.

The grateful opposition celebrate your misfortune, and indulge in an orgiastic display of schadenfreude. One man shouts that you are a terrible individual utterly bereft of personality. Another one tells you that he plans to write a novel based on you, your horror miss, and how your character is fundamentally flawed to the point that no-one could ever possibly love you. The goalkeeper retrieves a guitar from his kitbag and dedicates a song to you, with remarkably apposite lyrics about how you snatched at the ball and fucked it right up. The referee books you for being terrible.

You return to the dressing room and incandescent team-mates throw rotting fruit and fresh faeces in your guilty face. Your captain urinates in your bag and rubs your car keys on his genitals, snagging coils from his very pubis in the metal twists of a keyring, which, he also tells you, is shit.

On the drive home a passenger and fellow team-mate grabs the steering wheel as you drive, desperate to crash the car into the nearest wall, in selfless sacrifice to the good of mankind.

Upon arrival at home, you’ve not had the time to open the door before the wife appears, clutching a bag hastily stuffed with your clothes and orders you to leave, you sickening man. She cannot possibly contemplate a life with a non-entity such as you, an abject failure, a derelict building standing in a metaphorical council estate of the bankrupt and broken down. She removes her wedding ring and throws it into your eye, and the sharpness of the pain distracts you from the insult which follows, and clearly implies that she has a better sense of aim than you do.

You return to your car to drive away, anywhere, and find that it is being towed away. You ask why. “YOU KNOW WHY!” booms the parking warden, or whatever the people responsible for towing away cars are called. He removes a knife from his pocket and demands your shoes. He then makes you watch as he burns them in a bin and pisses on the ashes.

You arrive for work and discover that you have been fired. You look into a clumsily prepared box, presumably stuffed with your personal effects. You look inside and see a gun, a noose, and several bottles of pills, none of which belonged to you before, but clearly do now. Your computer doesn’t work, so you can’t even send an e-mail of thanks to your colleagues for the kind leaving gifts.

You leave the building and decide to end it all. You point the gun to your head, but naturally you somehow miss. You chuckle despairingly at the irony of it all, until you are arrested for being in possession of a firearm and are sent to prison where you are sodomised within an inch of your very life, which by now offers no intrinsic or extrinsic value whatsoever, and will never do so again.

You are visited in prison by a priest, who is being nice to you only because it’s his job. He offers balm for your ruptured soul, and you tell him your sad story. He asks what football team you played for and he is stunned to recognise the name. He used to play in the very same league as you before you were a complete void of humanity, he may in fact have played against you once or twice. You explain further particulars of the match itself, and further pangs of recollection animate his face into spasms of remembrance.

He asks you if you ever wore the number 11 shirt for your team, and you lean forward in deep intrigue to say yes. You then describe the miss, the indelible mark of a life destroyed, and he stuns you further by saying yes, yes I remember it. He played in the same game, and he was in goal as he watched your wayward toe-poke bounce past both him and the post of his goal. And as he describes that terrible moment again, the horror, oh the horror, of your horror miss, runs like ice water through your veins which only runs colder as this man tells you that the linesman had flagged for offside, and so the goal wouldn’t have counted anyway.


Sunday, Bloody Sunday: The Romance of the Cup


For the Sunday footballer, nothing fills the bones with hope quite like the prospect of playing in a cup final. I am delighted to realise that the ‘romance of the cup’ has filtered down to the grass roots, spreading its warming magic around the plucky chancers that could only ever dream of breathing the rarefied air of the elite level.

Ironic quips are made about getting measured for cup final suits, with protective flippancy concealing doubled efforts and a greater determination to win. Players gather in clusters at training, talking in hushed tones of tactics and stratagem. Preparation is no longer a dirty word, the desperate realm of the try-hard. Now, shimmering as we do in the glow of potential glory, preparation is the only thing that matters.

Athletes of culture consider buying new boots for the occasion, while stoic workhorses research sophisticated warm-up techniques to stave off injury. Internal politics are quelled in a prolonged moment of pause, with one match the collective focus. A trophy represents a gleaming beacon, validation of an unglamorous lifestyle of hungover waddling on Sunday morning’s frozen pitches. A trophy represents justification for abandoning loved ones in bed while sprays and ointments are applied to tensile joints. A trophy allows hope that a morsel of triumph may well be brushed from the top table to famished mouths agape with the roused memory of a million fevered dreams.

This moment of calm reflection is broken by a team-mate with a semi-affectionate nickname that implies genuine menace, an ex-convict and all the more unhinged for it, who screams: “LET’S STICK IT IN THEIR FAHCKIN’ BOLLOCKS!”

This plaintive cry, intended to inspire, only confuses you. But as an erstwhile divided team defiantly unite at the sound of this chest-pounding war cry, you wonder whether Maniac Mike is right, and that there is something to be shoved in some bollocks after all – the power of dreams.

Sunday Bloody Sunday: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Affectionate love letters sent from Sunday league football’s shit-smeared post-box…

As I have previously revealed, I am a man that can run quickly. I certainly can transport myself in a blur of motion, fingers arcing through the cold like futuristic time blades, that’s what they say. I have frequently drawn comment from stunned onlookers, scarcely able to believe the effortless transit of my aerodynamic flesh.

It is not unknown for dazzled bystanders to propose marriage upon witnessing such a spectacle, but more frequently, I am met with the stock quip “Run, Forrest, Run!” Thinly-veiled reminders of Lieutenant Dan’s green-screened leg stumps do nothing to deter me from my single-minded devotion to steely-hinded motion. However, the Forrest Gump joke has become a cliche so tired that you suspect it may have M.E. In my ongoing quest to improve the game (progress thus far: minimal), I hereby suggest a number of proposed alternatives. Next time you see someone running quickly at a football match at any level, bellow one of these things at them continuously, and refuse to stop until it has punctured the bubble of public consciousness.

“God speed, young man!”
“Swift movement from A to B, there!”
“It would appear that you have suffered a delay of sorts. Best of luck!”
“Lightning pace!”
“Fancy footwork!”
“May I race you, sir?”
“You remind me of a younger me!”
“Pump those calves!”
“Top marauding!”
“You nailed your pre-match meal, son!”
“I won’t bring attention to this!”
“Liz McColgan!”
“Elastic lungs!”
“I must cloak you in a foil blanket!”
“I rate your rapid transition highly!”
“Your fluid limbs must be a kinesiologist’s dream!”
“You must be full of glucose!”