By the time the game was over the rain had passed. I was struggling to peel my shirt off when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was from a man with a head full of swept back white hair. Alongside him stood the referee, who'd warned me three times during the game before eventually showing me a yellow card. She was much younger than he was. Either she was his daughter or there was a more sinister element to their relationship, all aside one that had my full approval.
|Michelmersh score very late on (pic by LDS)|
Unfortunately, we live in a world whereby a man cannot be tapped on the shoulder without suspicion of impending violence. Without so much as a set of keys I put my faith in my bare hands. My mind was put at ease when I noticed he was armed only with a Thermos flask. In my experience those who use Thermos flasks are a gentle people. My intuition served me well and I relaxed in the knowledge I didn't have to fight with an old man after ninety gruelling minutes of football. Losing would have been difficult for my ego.
“Just how did you lose that game?” He asked me. At first I wondered if he was taking the piss, then I remembered he was carrying a Thermos flask. As a rule those who use Thermos aren't ones to make snide remarks. I shrugged. I didn't know the answer. I ended up giving him a really boring reply like some of the jerk footballers on the telly. “You completely monopolised the second half,” he continued, as we made our way to Michelmersh's timber clubhouse. That was true. “If Michelmersh's keeper hadn't of made those cracking saves it might have been different.” Michelmersh's first came after about fifteen seconds. The player who scored it will not hit one sweeter this season. Maybe not ever. From then on their peckers were well and truly up, which in my opinion is the best way to have them. We had our work cut out.
Kev Willsher is Burridge captain. He's an uncompromising footballer who leads by example, but in my opinion he'd make a lousy boxer, he bleeds way to easy. It's becoming an almost weekly occurrence. On reflection it's what tends to happen when you throw your head where people are kicking their feet. If the blood running down his face represents his commitment to the cause, then his nose is his Victoria cross. That conk of his has seen plenty of action. Marc Judd had equalised twice and was very unfortunate not to complete his hat-trick, as he saw his header bounce back off Michelmersh's crossbar. We'd all live to rue that because Michelmersh scored a third late on. Time was our enemy.
Some of the younger lads took the defeat hard. I remember when I was their age. It was ten years ago and I was working in a call centre for a large health insurance company where vaginal prolapse and adult circumcision were a daily occurrence. The job wasn't all laughs though. Having my days filled with calls from other seriously ill people provided my young self with unwelcome stress. As a consequence I hit the bottle. Some days I'd be unable to face anymore calls, so I'd sit at my desk with my headset on but unplugged, making conversations up with imaginary policy holders as to appear busy. If memory serves I got quite good at it.
There was a man who worked with me who was undergoing chemotherapy. He got a lot of time off. The sympathy ran dry when it turned out he had made the whole thing up. People in the office were really angry when they found out. I thought if anything it showed he was far sicker than any of us ever imagined. Despite it all, I still liked him; he had charisma. He was fired on the spot and I never saw him again. If there's any wisdom I picked up from that period of my life, it's don't take acid on a cold Tuesday night in November. Getting sent home from work the next day won't stop spoons from judging you. I didn't pass this nugget on to our younger players, I didn't think it was appropriate. We went back to the West End Brewery for our sausage and chips.