Attempting to make it as a writer

Posts tagged ‘football’

Evoking Memories

Once upon a long time ago I lived for a while in London.   I am not sure if every large city is like it but there was a particular vitality to the place especially after dark.

I remember the day I arrived; wet behind the ears, fresh from the deepest depths of the Devon countryside.  A fervent member of the Young Farmer movement; having found them the closest beings to inhabit my remote youthful existence, this urban world was totally alien to me. I knew plenty about butter making, pitching in during haymaking and the thrill then loss of baby lambs, but a world full of loud, fast always open buzz was non-existent on my radar.   I took my first intrepid steps into the metropolis of the capital with a heart seized in terror at  the unknown.

I was lucky I was cossetted by the trappings and security of an affluent household in Hampstead where I joined the family as a live in nanny.  With my basic needs provided for I was able to embrace London life to the full.

Late nights and early mornings became the norm, mixing with rich, famous and notorious celebrities as they came and went became the accepted pattern for my new exciting life.  I managed to shed the country bumpkin skin away emerging as a young party animal.  I attended premieres, I partied with the most sparkling in stars, I acquired tickets to all the prestigious events and I loved every moment.  The lights shone and the day never ended just merged to the next.

I would go home to my family still deep within the countryside and not be able to party or buy a kebab on the way home. The only light in the world after midnight would be the stars or the moon or a distant barn heralding a soon to be new little life; but it had lost it’s fun and wonder for me.  I yearned for the hub bub of the town, I needed the noise and smells and I craved the vivacity vibrancy and vivaciousness only offered by the diversity of a busy city.   I had to get back to get my fix of the fun and frivolity that had become my life.

Inevitably I grew up, met and married Sexy Sporty Dad and we had our children who grew and developed in their own special way.

This week I was offered tickets to an Arsenal match at their home ground.  My first hit of nostalgia; I had given up being a supporter or any football since the children had been born.   Rugby had dominated our need for fanaticism over recent years and there was little time to remember that before children I supported the team as well as other sports.

No 1 Son was staying and working on a boat docked in St Katherine’s Dock and I was invited to spend the weekend with him.   Mini Son is the only avid footie fan in our family and despite his possibly paternal passion for Man U, it seemed sensible to take him as they were Arsenal’s opposition.

Stepping off the train at Waterloo I was hit by a familiar excitement in my stomach.   The noise was rising, there was a distinct smell of fresh food blended with diesel and the close proximity of perfume as we queued to go through the barrier.

A walk along the embankment dodging pedestrians, runners, bus queues I gave a sporadic history lesson as sites came to view and remembered stories of old ran through my mind. Music and laughter drifted across the Thames as we walked.  Street sellers called to us enticing us closer to try their wares.  People of all nationalities brushed past us, gabbling away in their native tongue as I tried to identify and inform my young son.

We didn’t reach St Katherine’s Dock by foot, the distance prooving just too far.  Standing by the road Mini Son waved and hailed his first London cab. It was not far to go but by then the relief of having a seat was welcome, it also served as a slight reminder of the years that had passed by since I would jog along the embankment for fun!   We reached the boat and a very welcome cup of tea, tour and tutoring to get on and off the craft, through the barriers and where the slightly more stable roomy pontoon toilets and showers were situated.

It was time then to take the tube.   Hanging on for dear life to a reluctant twelve year old as we hopped on and off trains, cut through from tube line to tube line and joined and ever increasing heaving mass of bodies, singing anthems, cheering and moving inevitably towards the stadium.  If I ever imagined I might not find the way; I had forgotten my own mantra; “to follow the crowd”.   The swelling crowd moved methodically through the mechanical motions towards the bright, loud alluring ground.

It was sad that probably my only opportunity to see the team I once supported so avidly lost to one of their greatest rivals but for my young son, his first ever footie match was quite a spectacle to behold.   We were of course in the home team stands and a very contained little boy cheered inwardly as each goal against us was shot.

At the end of the match and amidst a fairly hostile and emotional crowd we moved momentarily closer to the tube as the thousands of fans poured along the streets towards the station.   Finally hanging closely onto Mini Son with No 1 Son leading the way we made our way through the underground to where we were meeting friends for a meal.

This was the night life I remembered, a brightly lit, noisy esplanade spilling over with restaurants, wine bars and nightclubs.   Different cultural aromas emanating from each kitchen tantalising the taste buds as people thronged past.   We were headed for a little Indian place our friends knew well but when we arrived it was no longer there.   Not lost for choice we opted for the Turkish place next door.

A mezze of different authentic dishes were placed on our table.  We tasted, tried and tested tiny morsels and larger bites of unpronounceable delicacies.  We drank house wine and finished off with more delicious sweeteners leaving the area still fully alive and thriving despite the later or by now early hours of the morning.  Before grabbing a cab we ran into a 24 hour supermarket to pick up the essentials like milk and cereal for the morning.

I fell asleep on a bustle of clashing dreams, colours vibrant and strong, noise chasing through my mind, my nose wrinkling at the memory of the mass of varying menus and the hustle of being part of a throng.  It was a nostalgic pull to my past.

We woke, the rain poured, the light was dull and it was cold.  I clambered off the boat inelegantly and showered in the block.  There was no way back but through the torrential rain and to scramble back over the rail to the warmth of the deck below.

DSC_0048I had planned to take Mini Son to the Tower of London, I wanted to see the remains of the powerful poppy exhibition remembering the fallen from history  and he had just finished studying the princes in the tower, at school.  We did go but the short walk across to the entrance drowned our spirits with the monotonous drip drip drip of rain.   Through two layers of coat and hoody the water seeped chilling the bone.  We followed a few other brave souls round through the ancient historical rooms unable to feel anything but cold and damp.  By the time we reached the room the little princes were kept; all remaining empathy had been diluted and washed away and we returned finally deflated to the deluged docks.

Deferring plans to visit the science museum we headed back to Waterloo and took a long winded journey home avoiding engineering works before Mini Son alighted from the train and exploded with all the enclosed excitement into his father’s waiting arms:

“We won, we beat them.  Man U won the match!”

Tripping down memory lane and sharing the places with my children brought back the fun and excitement of visiting London but the welcome smell of my husband’s home-made meal and a large cuppa reminded me of where I really want to be; tucked up at home watching the telly with my family.  Nostalgia just isn’t what it used be, it has its place tied up with memories and emotion but not necessarily a tug to go back.





Team Player

Are you a team player?   I try but sometimes it is difficult to be altruistic enough to be a true team player in sport.   The ultimate aim of any game is to win, that is why we take part and there is no denying it.  Remember the old adage, quoted by parents and coaches alike “there is no I in team; it does ring true in sports that involve groups.  For many years, I too have passed on this very same message to the boys of No 1 Son’s rugby team who did not score the actual tries or the conversions; trying to convince them they all did well as a squad.

The job of the wingers in rugby is to get the ball out and over the line.   The job of the kicker is to convert the ball that is why it goes to him.  The team are there to use their wingers and get the ball to them.  In football it is exactly the same; the job of the striker is to score the goal, although anyone can score goal or try if they are in the right place.    Netball is a little more formal as the ball is passed to the goal scorer or help scorer and only they shoot for goal.

I remember many years ago trying to work out who was eligible for an end of season trophy.   A parent whose fast son had scored a lot of tries out on the wing was adamant there should be a special award for the top three scorers of which his son came third.    I on the other hand was against this new award.

As all three would get awards for other commitments to the team  it was not that they would leave the award ceremony with nothing.   I put my vote behind the solid support award that went to 8 players; who may not have been high scoring in points, but in team value played a crucial part in each game.    When they played, they were always in the right place and read the game well enough to know that if they passed to another player the team would score rather than keeping the ball.   Without these guys getting the ball to the right people the tries would never have been made and the points never won.

At the time it caused a fair bit of acrimony but on the night of the awards not only the three top scorers came away with their own glory so did eight other boys who felt special at the recognition they too had unexpectedly received.  Parents were enormously proud of their offspring who never normally got noticed because they were not playing in the glory positions.   It was the reaction of the team that delighted me most; they were particularly praising including the three top scorers who were thrilled their team mates were also valued.

Mini Son is not a rugby player.    He is very good at rugby, a very intuitive player who knows exactly where to be on the pitch and is fast enough to get the ball out and be a very high scoring winger.  His passion however is football!   His dream like many other boys is to be an international striker and play at the very top of the league and the country.   Unfortunately for him he again is very intuitive and reliable so he is usually left in defence to field the last chance post before the goalie.   A position he hates as he feels he misses so much play and the opportunity to strike time and time again.

He naturally was picked for the local area football tournament this week, trying to win the trophy for the school. Having stood on this same field for many years now; my final tournament I really hoped we could win something to show for all those years as supportive parent. For the first two games Mini Son  was in defence prohibiting any would be opposition striker the chance of success.  He ducked and weaved to claim the ball and twist it away.  He has a repertoire of succinct little touches using his feet, his head and his chest to tap the ball to safety.

Changing the team around slightly he was moved for the third game to a midfield position which if nothing else challenged his fitness levels to the maximum as he ran the length of the pitch passing and saving and winning ball to pass to his team mates.    He brought the ball into striking distance and provided several opportunities for the team to try for goal.  He moved to the other end of the pitch in time to defend and block yet more opposition chances.  He performed reverse kicks over his head to stop the ball going out of play and tackled bigger boys than himself squirreling around the melee before tapping it out to his supporting teammates.

The fourth game took place immediately following the third and with a swift change of sub the team remained the same; still in midfield he organised his team and encouraged them to be where they should be.  He was quick to spot an undefended player and get the ball out to him or to mark up where the ball was most likely to land.   The game although on a small pitch moved from end to end closely fought by both teams; a place in the final four at stake.

As this game ended we were called through for the pool results.  The top two from each group would go on to play the final games.   Sadly we were beaten by just one point into third place so would be going home.   Thanks were said to the youngsters from the top school who had put the games together refereeing them, line judging and scoring.  Thanks to the hosts and the adults who had helped.  Then the organiser surprised us by announcing she had had the youngsters out watching the games to choose 4 players for her special sportsmanship medals.  These medals were for players who did not hog the limelight, played as a team player and supported their teamates.

A hush fell over the assembled children as she called out “Mini Son” along with three other boys.  They were called up to receive their medals and returned to our team

a medal for show

a medal for show

where I just had enough battery left in the camera to take a wobbly couple of proud mummy photos.

As a mummy I know we went home with the top prize, but for the car full of miserable players I tried all the old placations “it is the taking part that counts, you came first or second in all the games you played, it was an afternoon out of school.”

Finally it was the chocolate biscuits and the promise to drive slowly back to school and miss the afterschool SATS club that seemed to ease the pain of not winning.  Each child however had a little wear of the medal giving them all a share in the pride and delight of being part of the team to win the team player medal.

So for all those years of standing on the cold, damp sidelines of primary school pitches I am as proud as any parent with a medal that encompasses all the altruistic team play and finally a win.



Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

Border Line Senility

It was the domino effect rather than the senility, I hope, that resulted in embarrassment for me.

As most people know Mini Son and I go to the same school.  He studies hard and learns lots.  I work hard and also learn lots, however it is he rather than me that is able to leave on time.

He had been picked, for the school football team, to take part in a local festival against other year 5 and 6 teams.   I was planning; to leave work at midday, rush home, change and grab some lunch, then be back by 1pm to collect him.

With 15 minutes to go and parents starting to arrive to collect their children I knew plan A was not going to succeed.  One of the other parents offered to take Mini Son and give me precious time to eat and change.

As I left the house, I realised I hadn’t had a drink so grabbed a sports bottle and filled it with water.

There was no parking anywhere.  There could have been, if some of the cars had been parked a little more thoughtfully.  As I drove back out of the car park I noticed the tiniest of spaces tucked into the hedge at the end of the line of cars just at the entrance.   I manoeuvred backwards and forwards into the space leaving no more than a millimetre between me the car behind.  She did have half a parking space in front of her, so getting out was not going to be an issue.  I tucked in really close to allow others in and out of the car park.  Even I was impressed by my parking; unless you are a very bad driver, you could still drive a double- decker bus through the entrance.

I found the school team; arriving at their pitch just as the first whistle blew for kick off.  I joined the throng of parents cheering them on and shouting loudly at my lad and his team mates. With the other supporters; head in hands as a kick missed its mark by a hair’s breadth.

Looking round the pitch, I found parents I had stood together shoulder to shoulder with on the rugby sidelines, only now we were on opposite sides of the game.   No matter how friendly and close I might be on a Sunday, I was delighted we won and even more proud to learn Mini Son was captain; leading the cheering at the end.   “Oh what a clever boy!”

They say “Pride before a fall”.

It was after that first game I learnt both Mini Son and his friend had left their drinks bottles in the boot of his friend’s car. His mum only delivering them, my part of the bargain was to bring both back.  Thank goodness I had my precious bottle of water; I didn’t get a look in.

After winning three matches we then had a three match break, Mini Son joined me in a search for a water tap, to top up the now empty water bottle.  I again ran into parents I knew from Sunday rugby.  One was coming to my fundraising pampered chef party that evening.  She was there with her husband who I have seen a few times and a few other parents I knew.

They too had a break of two matches.  Wendy whose meeting had finished early, had dropped in as she passed on her way to another, managing to see her lad play a couple of games.  She was now going to drop her husband at the village shop.  It seemed such a good idea to get a few snacks and drinks for the boys.

I stopped momentarily to look at my car.  If I drove the half a mile I would most definitely lose my carefully negotiated parking spot.  I began to walk, after all the walk would do me good. I had a three match time window and it really wasn’t that far.   I began walking  in the now beautifully sunny afternoon, once I had left the pitch I was sheltered from the wind.    Wendy and her husband drove past and stopped.  Without a second thought I accepted the lift happily and waved her off at the shop with a cheery “see you tonight”.

Browsing the shelves of the shop I picked out a couple of bottles, a large pack of mini cheddars, they might share them with me if I was lucky, and a packet of haribos which I was not so keen to share.  I began wandering over to the till and reached into my handbag.

Only my handbag wasn’t there.

Crossed hands checking my body for tell tale signs of a hidden bag.  A rush of minor panic as I knew exactly where it was; hidden under the rain mac in the well of the car.   So what were my options?

I could run back to the car and then to the shop and then back again.  Really!

I could leave everything and wander back empty handed with the excuse that I had changed my mind.  Lost it more like!


I wandered still laden down the aisles until I came upon Wendy’s wonderful husband and said “Andrew I wonder if you might help me out”.   Bless him, he paid for all the boys snacks and afterwards we casually strolled back to the pitches chatting amiably about life in general.

I stopped at the car and retrieved the £20 note for which of course he had no change.   “Sort it with Wendy tonight” he said dismissing the money.

No Change of course!

I did try to sort it with Wendy.  She knew nothing of the earlier events but under protest allowed me to buy her a glass of wine which I was more than willing to do so.

I am still the proud mum of Captain Mini Son who led his team to victory finishing top of their pool.  They were then beaten in such a close semi final, it could easily have gone either way.  Even in defeat his voice was loud and clear as he led the cheers for the victors.

Had I left work on time, I would have made sure the boys remembered their drinks and probably packed extra.  I who like to be early would have parked in a proper space in the car park.  I would not have needed to go to the shop at all. Is this how old age will start?

Or was I just dipping a testing toe across the border line of senility?


I have had some wonderful feedback on my powerful honour killings story but still not sure what to do with it!




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