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Freezing Like Sunday Morning

Freezing Like Sunday Morning

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If i was a glamorous premiership footballer, i would want to move abroad. Perhaps put my A Level french to use, and play in Bordeaux, except their team is shit. So somewhere in Spain would be lovely. Warm, more time on the ball, and penelope cruz. Perfect. That is how football should be. 
Except thats not true. That is not what football is about. Today i spent the morning in Croston, Lancashire. As i made my long-awaited return to the West Lancs U18s League, after spells floating in the wilderness and playing in West Darby under a polish immigrant and his translator that looked like Morrissey. "Who win the game?"... (in unison) "Krakovia!" Good times. Except we didnt win. Ever. And our best result was 1-4. It couldnt get much worse than that really. I had to get the train to sandhills and get a lift from ben, or i had to go to Bootle and get a bus and walk. I'd have about 3 bines on the way home out of sheer frustration and boredom and rage. 
Making my Tarleton Corinthians debut excited me. They were similarly shit. Bottom of the league, run by a burly lancashire type, who pronounces the letter R with the same gusto with which he eats pies.  He had a son in the side, Jake. An uncompromising centre half, with gelled down hair, and an earing, and a run like an ostrich. He reminded me of leggy ben, who i used to play with. He was leggy. And his name was Ben. He gave away penalties like no-one's business. Down to his legginess, usually. Not his name. And leggy Jake was partnered by Sutty, presumably some sort of reference to a name like Sutton or Suttcliffe. I doubted that another uncompromising centre half would be named after the childrens puppet. And if so, why had Jake not been called sweep, at least once, just for the comical symmetry? It was puzzling, but i moved on. There was a right back and left back whose names i forget, but a midfield of Jamie, Andy, Dan and Rozza. Rozza's real name, i worked out, was Ross- bit of a pointless nickname i thought, it was just misleading and harder to say. But i didnt want to question the validity of people's names at this stage, they hadn't even seen me touch a ball.
Up front was Murph and Sam. Murph to be fair, dropped into midfield a lot, he wasn't quite a striker. He was a handful- tall, quick and with good feet. He had a blonde streak through his gelled up dark hair, and had a rubbish beard. It was all patchy and fluffy and rather than make him look manly had an adverse effect. 
I was in the car with Murph and Dan, they started having a conversation i didnt know anything about. The goings on at Hutton High. I hadnt heard of Hutton, let alone it's high school, and they were painting a lovely typical picture of sixth form life. I wondered whether Murph had constructed this conversation that i wasn't privy to, simply to isolate me at an early stage, as if threatened by arrival. But i later realised his position wasnt the same as mine, and after judging his contributions to the conversation had him down as a tim-nice-but-dim kind of character, i thought not only would such a move be unnecessary for him, but probably intellectually beyond him. 
Shortly we arrived in Croston. The pitch was typically shit, the opposition were big and the changing rooms were also shit. It's familarity was nice. Maybe football would be my friend, even if no-one else would.
I was warming the bench. The bench didnt warm me. I could only watch with a sense of comfort, just what i'd been missing out on. The over-use of the adjective tremendous, they way managers compliment players by saying a word then yelling out their full forename and surname, as if to further emphasise their point, the literally ridiculous abuse of the referee. Some of his decisions weren't that bad, and people looked like they were going to kill him. 
When i came on, my feet were freezing and i had 20 minutes to impress. We were losing 2-1 and that was how it stayed. I made a few good challenges and passes and thankfully didnt do anything wrong. I was freezing, tired and filthy and i really wanted a brew. But I felt alive. Every long ball, needlessly bypassing me in the midfield was like nurturing arms of familiarity and institution patting me on the back and screaming 'Second ball!' in my ears, then kissing me on the cheek. Every lambast of the referee, was like a party and everyone was invited. Every slide tackle was like dancing with a beautiful woman and every goal was shagging her.
Lancashire is where football belongs. The mud, the swearing, the tackling, the toucline platitudes, the convoy of 10 year old saloon cars on a motorway in the rain, and the relaxing bath at home. You can give me a spanish villa, and the beautiful women, and the sangria and the marvellous style of play and the history and tradition along with the opportunity to play with some of the world's great players....
I'd probably take it to be honest, but then come straight back to Chorley St Gregs next week- i don't want to miss that, they have oranges at half time!
  • Playing not to win, but for the love of the game...

    Also, if you were a Premiership footballer, you should play for Liverpool you git. Not move abroad.
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