Whereby training at Hamble School was cancelled for the second consecutive week because of the frozen conditions.....
My penis is the size of a walnut after the cold shower I've just had. It's 8:30pm and probably too late to make another telephone call to Solitaire, the property management company in charge of the maintenance of my block flats, who have already exposed their indifference to geothermal power's failure to run hot water to my shower during any spell of cold weather. Rather than fix the problem Solitaire far prefer writing letters to me about how to dispose refuse correctly, that always begin – Dear Resident.
Hamble school telephoned me out of courtesy this afternoon to say they were cancelling this evening's training session for the second week running because their Astro-Turf pitch was frozen. The caller, who did not give me the benefit of their surname, was quick to duck all responsibility when I enquired about a credit note for the previous two cancelled sessions we have already paid for. He instead referred me to Linda Heaver, whom I have never met, but have reason to believe is reliable, if her regular posted correspondence is anything to go by. Invoices have been sent to me in good time, as have reminders of our contract, stating that the wearing of any kind of studded footwear on the Astro-Turf would result in immediate cancellation of our booking. Whether she studies CCTV footage or relies upon a team of moles to spy upon us from the bushes in order to discover anyone wearing studded footwear remains a mystery. She had signed off by wishing us a Merry Christmas and successful New Year. Linda was now on leave.
Burridge manager, Paul Dyke, text us with alternative training arrangements. We would meet at Botley Recreation Ground at 7:30pm for what he described as a good old fashioned road run. This is a tough sell. Without a football in sight I was intrigued to see who would turn up. Not that this session was optional. We've nicked a number of last minute goals this season – Sam Schwodler's winner at Gang Warily against Forest Town, Sam Hewitt's equaliser at BTC, and Dan Esfandiari's late goal at home to Hythe Aztecs; none of which came as any coincidence to Paul Dyke, who takes pride in our fitness, which has been gained through five months of regular sessions. He wasn't going to allow a spot of bad weather whittle away the team's fitness to nothing.
Dyke knows that fitness is a personal responsibility, and therein often lies the root of the problem. I'm lucky enough to have access to a communal gym, situated in the bowels of my flat complex, but I seldom use it. The experience of running on a treadmill, which is effectively running on the spot in front of a mirror, is something I find extremely unrewarding. One of my neighbours knocked on my door for the code to get into this gym, which is strange as he normally goes to reasonable lengths to avoid all conversation with me. With his usual gym closed due to bad weather he was forced to get his fitness fix queuing up with all the other residents. I prefer to run outdoors, you can go whenever you want and there's no membership fee. Although until the last few days running outside would have been dangerous without a pair of tennis rackets attached to the soles of my shoes.
I went to collect the training gear from Kev Willsher on Monday night. It had been in his car for well over a week. Seeing the yellow training bibs spilling out the football bag in the back seat of his Ford Focus led me to assume that either he'd been cycling to work or he has no sense of smell. Kev was at work. He told me to pop across the street to his flat and get his car keys from his bedroom. They were on a chest of drawers alongside a post-it note, two lighters and a packet of cigarettes. It's no secret that Kev is fond of an occasional puff, much like Zinedine Zidane and Johan Cruyff, but what with it only being a ten pack of Benson and Hedges, and that he hadn't taken them to work confirmed that smoking was merely a recreational pursuit. Not that smoking effected Kev, he still left me for dead in tonight's running.
The ten to arrive at Botley were, Dan Allen, Paul Dyke, Lee Fielder, Kristian Hewitt, Marc Judd, Mark Reeves, Ben Rowe, Kev Willsher, Jason Wilson and myself. A pretty reasonable showing. Marc Judd rubbished me for wearing tracksters beneath my shorts, which to the uninitiated are skin tight Lycra running trousers. There's safety in numbers, so I was pleased to see both Jason Wilson and Mark Reeves wear similar items.We ran a brisk pace of two laps around the village, which came to just under three miles, the second lap of which felt considerably tougher on my calf muscles than the first when trying to keep up with the chasing pack of Jason Wilson, Kev Willsher, Lee Fielder and Dan Allen. This was followed by a flat out kilometre dash to Texaco, on the Maypole round-about and back again. Jason Wilson led from the front in both races. On completion, Dyke fed us all with Haribo sweets, (apparently they release sugar that's good for recovery. They taste nice too). We're due to host Durley on Saturday, but with frosty conditions forecast it's unclear if play will go ahead.
Scores: 1-9 time to take a long hard look at yourself, 10-11 get Paul Andrews back in the squad, pronto, 12 ok, 13 respectable, 14 worked hard, 15 good - Dejan Savicevic, 16 touch of class - Socrates, 17 capable of greatness - Michael Laudrup, 18 wonderful - Marco Van Basten , memorable - Johan Cruyff, 20 as good as it gets