The nicest four words in the English language? The match is off. As in one of your son’s football matches. This happily happened again this morning. Which meant I didn’t have to walk the dog. And I didn’t have to pretend to watch one of my son’s play football.
I don’t particularly like football. The fact I ‘support’ Hibs and Everton is testament to that. I’m a rugby league girl but when you have sons, football unfortunately comes with the territory. And when your husband decides he wants to be Jürgen Klopp and coach your son’s team, your territory is well and truly invaded. As is the shed. And the garage.
Initially, you have to show an interest. You don’t know the other mams so you have to go through the whole routine of being supportive and encouraging, unless your husband’s not at work because then you can just send him instead. However, on your eldest’s first ever game, he’s drawn the long straw and gets to go to work and be excluded from the upcoming disaster. It starts off well because you turn up at the correct venue and on time. (As a dance Mam, I’ve found this problematic.) You haven’t forgotten the kit because the coach has it. You have forgotten half time refreshments for your wee man but you’ve an inkling he won’t be expending enough energy to necessitate these. He starts on the bench. Well, the imaginary bench. This is junior football. As it turns out, he spends a lot of time weeing in the neighbouring wood so doesn’t require anywhere to park his bottom. In fact, why he’s not observing the progress of the match or discussing tactics with his coach beggars belief. Eventually, it’s time for first son to make his debut and I start to shrink slightly into my coat. I’m certain first son hasn’t inherited any of his dad’s sporting DNA. And it doesn’t go well. Firstly, he doesn’t know which way his team is playing. On the rare occasion he finds himself in possession, he sets off in the direction of his own goalkeeper. As he’s slightly deaf, he mistakes the screams of his teammates as cheers of encouragement and it takes a sliding tackle from one of them to stop him from scoring an own goal. Secondly, he doesn’t seem to realise which players belong to his team. The colour of the shirts are proving not to be a giveaway on this occasion. Or he’s just a kind boy and likes to pass to everyone so nobody misses out on touching the ball. Thirdly, there’s the pack mentality. Both teams run round, bunched together on the hunt for the elusive black and white sphere and it’s a miracle that both goalkeepers aren’t tempted to join in. The lack of zonal marking would have Rafa Benitez hunting for the nearest sangria. Finally, every time the ball comes near, he does a little dance. He shuffles on the spot, flapping his arms as if trying to shoo the ball away. And it works, so there has been some success this morning. Just some.
And that continues for what seems like years. Just in time for your second born to make his debut.
If it wasn’t going to go well first time round, it’s certain that this will be a monumental disaster on the biggest scale. I cannot stress enough how bad this will be. Not only is he still the same size as a toddler, he has the attention span of a toddler. However, there is one positive early on. He doesn’t feel the need to follow the pack to every corner of the pitch. He’s not going to run round with everyone, futilely chasing the ball in the desperate hope of a slight touch. No, he is going to sit down in the penalty area and have a little hunt around for worms. He’s not going to be stupid like those others and sprint around aimlessly. There’s mini-beasts to be found for God’s sake. Weather conditions are perfect. And lo and behold, it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time. At some point during the match, an opposition player breaks free from the pack. The home parents scream at second born to foil the attack. He looks up just in time to see the enemy launching his attack, raining down on him at ferocious speed. Causally, he puts the worm down, wanders into goal and kicks the ball away as it trickles towards him. The crowd go berserk. The match has been saved. Second born goes back to his spot, sits down and looks for his worm.
Fast forward 12 years and I recently found myself at first born’s match. Not to watch. We happened to be nearby. The dog was sodden as usual so thought I’d stand in the sun for a bit. Two birds and all that. Only time I glimpsed first born move was to leave the subs bench (now a physical entity. Husband has invested heavily into this coaching lark!) and go for a wee in the bushes. Some things clearly don’t change. Even Frankie got bored and suddenly dragged me back to the car. I didn’t resist.
Luckily for me, a girl came along who wanted to dance and dance trumps football. Because it’s inside. And it takes me away from being outside in the rain and the wind and the cold. And the embarrassment. Admittedly, the girl wasn’t a natural at the start, but I didn’t care because I didn’t have to watch! Drop off, go back to your warm living room then retrieve later on. Now that’s a sport I can be crazy about.
(And don’t even get me started on tournaments. They involve way too many matches and tents. Tents! Naturally, it does end up getting very tense! It’s not fun.)
And dancing gives me more blogging material! ⬇️😂