Enough with the Soccer Already


They say that every time an accountant is born, an angel dies. Or something like that. Well I’d like to add to and improve that well-worn phrase. How about “Every time the Football Season starts before the end of the cricket season or most people have taken their summer holidays, a puppy loses its ears”? Ok, it may be not quite as sweet or catchy as the original, but you get my meaning.

The People's Game returns

Ahhhh….The People’s Game returns

Yes, unbelievably (although someone writes this every year) the cries of “onmeeadsun” and “backdoorbackdoor” could be heard throughout the land this weekend, and not just from the open windows at Catholic Church Boys homes. The minor English divisions took to the field/pitch, whatever they call it on Planet Sky TV this season, and play was resumed as usual. Charlton Athletic lost, as usual, and youngsters in English streets had a kickabout inbetween cars and fell over for no apparent reason, imitating their heroes.  Lads in Scotland, who were fortunate enough not to be in the charge of the local priest, played fitba in the park in the style of their own local heroes: ran around in front of three bored (yet aggressive) bigoted onlookers, had no proper goalies and all went into administration afterwards.

And yet up in the Third World, the Manchester Third Test is still grinding to a halt, as is cricket’s wont. There are still two huge matches to come in this current cricket season. There are still 11 days of Aussie whingeing, England cheating and Deaf Dumb & Blind umpiring (Jimmy: Sure Bowls a Mean Short Ball) but you’d get good odds on Roman Abramovich sacking this week’s manager down at Chelski before Alastair Cook has taken his pads off for the winter.

Reculver - Twinned with Syria's Homs

Reculver – Twinned with Syria’s Homs

The Incumbent and I have yet to take ourself away on our our annual family summer trip to Reculver, and yet the pies and bovril are being re-heated at football grounds all over the country and I’ve yet to oil myself up and squeeze my slight frame into the newly-purchased 38″ Union Jack speedos (Matalan, 3 pairs for a fiver!).

I know it’s a plea that will fall on deaf eyes, a request which, like my application to be the new Dr Who, will remain ignored until Gallifrey freezes over, but is there any way that fitba, football, or even soccer can remain a winter pastime, so the rest of us can enjoy uninterrupted coverage of the Test Match series, the Croquet Season and our buckets & spades, at least until late September ?

No, I thought there wasn’t.

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Just Warming Up


I hate training. I always did. All that stretching off, press-ups, squat-thrusts, jogging around the pitch, unopposed drills. Yuk, awful. I suspect my lack of enthusiasm for training sessions was the one and only reason I never got my England cap. Yes, that’s definitely the reason.

Training sessions, in my limited but painful experience, are invariably held on a cold, wet Tuesday night and involve someone shouting at you for an hour and a half while you forward-roll and burpee your way around the pitch until your head thumps, or someone gives you a slap because you were either tackling too hard or not hard enough. Meanwhile all your mates who had to ‘work late’ or are ‘injured’ are in the clubhouse seeing the ‘physio’ or having ‘one’ ‘shandy’.

Actually, I was pretty good at that . There’s no more satisfying pint of beer than the one you have as you look out of the clubhouse bar at those assorted idiots on the training field going through beep tests and star jumps.

This five-minute fad of keeping fit can be quite annoying. The aforementioned lycra nazis mince around with their inexplicable air of superiority. Joggers in the street sweat past you under the impression that they own the pavement, with a self-satisfied “look at me” importance only rivalled by new mothers pushing a buggy into your shins.

That bunch who arrive back in the office at about 1.50 every afternoon, stinking, red-faced and drenched, unable to breath as they complete their lunchtime jog around the block- what’s all that about? If I came out of a pub looking like that I’d never go in one again.  I dunno if they actually expect a round of applause for their efforts but by the way they look at you, iPod in ears and water bottle in hand as they collapse over the office furniture, you’d have thought that they’d just discovered radium. FUCK OFF AND STOP DRIPPING ON MY DESK.

The Incumbent takes herself off to the local gym every morning. I dunno what she’s training for and given that every single morning she announces that it hurt, I haven’t the foggiest idea why she does it to herself. I’m unlikely to announce that I’m taking out for a 10k run at the weekend, so why does she put herself through it? My mate – let’s call him Paul (even though his real name’s Martin)- joined the local fitness club purely to watch women bounce around on the treadmill. Now that I understand, although I did point out there were cheaper ways to look at lithe, young women’s bodies (I’m typing on one now).

Having said all that, I am in preparation for the big event next week. The imminent England vrs Australia cricket series starts next Wednesday, but coverage doesn’t start til 11pm and goes on through the night.  Considering these days I like to be tucked up in bed by no later that 9.30 I need to acclimatise myself to match conditions. As I write, half the England team are in Brisbane, training in tropical conditions in readiness for the five-day match which will test all their physical and mental abilities. Nothing can prepare your body for the shock of playing sport in the extreme heat of the tropics, especially if you come from Manchester, Leeds or Nottingham, so the english bowlers have arrived a week in advance to give themselves half a chance of getting used to the sapping conditions.

My preparations will be no less calculated. My plan for Wednesday is to get myself down to the local pub for about 2pm, armed to the teeth with the daily papers. I shall order a pint and sit by a window and read every sports section available. At some stage I shall order a light lunch: steak and kidney pie or fish n chips. No more than four drinks shall be ordered (unless I have company then a sensible cut-off time will be deemed).

Late afternoon I shall waddle off down the hill to Railway Cuttings to the comfort of my bed or sofa (dependent on Columbo being on tv). Having checked carefully the last delivery time for Dominos Pizza (do they open through the night?) I shall snuggle down and sleep, hopefully for three or four hours. Alarm or no alarm, I hope to wake at around 1030, in plenty of time to enjoy the coverage of the match. Then I’ll simply repeat the above for the next five days.

Of course I will drop off to sleep again eventually, but this is the best plan I can come up with without reverting to chemical help to keep me awake. I’m so excited about the series I may just explode if I was to come within a nostril hair of any stimulants. No jogging kit will be donned, no sweatband worn. No hamstrings will be pulled, and even my dodgy achilles tendons can stand up to rigours of walking to the pub.

I’ll be ready. And so will the English team. Hopefully.

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