I still secretly harbour a desire to become a professional footballer. Most
young males do. Usually I can be rational and dismiss the fantasy, however
at times of high confidence, say after I've managed ten consecutive
kick-ups or I've tackled someone half decent on a Sunday morning, the
fantasy returns to niggle at my sub-conscience.
I know that I am nowhere near good enough. Aside from anything else I'm too
unfit, too small and panic when I get inside the opposition half. At most
I've the potential to be a better than average Sunday League fourth
division right back with a quick mind and decidedly slower feet. It's not
that I don't know what to do - I'm forever shouting tactical advice,
probably all wrong, but I try and sound confident. It's just my feet,
especially the one on my left leg which team mates tell me should be left
for standing on only, that just don't seem to do what I tell them. I'll
carefully and confidently line up a cross-field pass and, following all the
training manuals, I'll kick through the ball, following through at the
point at which I am aiming, occasionally cutting my foot across the ball
(in order to get it to spin gently back into the path of my team mate). And
the result? Usually a throw on to the other team and sometimes
embarrassingly one on the right hand side of the pitch when I was passing
to the left.
I'm not appallingly bad, just average. Stronger than I look and with a turn
of pace which will shock the opposing left back for the number of seconds I
actually manage to maintain control, I can play a reasonable role in a
Sunday League team. I can say that now but, after a few beers or another
hoof up the line from the right back on a Saturday afternoon, it all
changes. If I played every day...I wouldn't drink if I was a
professional...I'd make sure I was fit...if only I hadn't had that injury
(which injury?)...if only my Dad had cared about my desire to play
football... It's all bollocks. I know that. It's just when one of those
twenty-five yard screamers goes in down the park and all your mates gather
I really do wish I was a professional football player. What a life. Up at
9.45 to make it to Stanmore by 10.15. Afternoons free. The girls. The
money. The car - even Devon White had a huge BMW with the number plate BIG
DEV - mind you, he must have had a few signing on cheques in his career. I'm
jealous. That's it. That's why I was actually angry when I heard about
Chris and Andy Johnson. I saw them every Thursday and Saturday at the
Ice-O-Bar and Kudos pissed up. They both had talent and they both wasted
it. Look out Ludden or you'll be next. Sort it out. It's not fair - if I had
their talent, etc etc.
I get the piss taken out of me by my mates by how obsessed I am with the
Watford players. I chat to Robbo in the pub every now and then and say
hello to Boycey, a young wing back from the junior team who I once gave a
lift to the ground. It's partly because I envy them but it's mostly because
I am so in awe of them. They get to play the best game in the world, my
second favourite pastime (in case she reads this) and the bastards get
paid. There must be something special about them. None that I've talked to
are that bright, it's just somewhere along the line they got good at
football and then somewhere a bit further on they got lucky and got signed
up by a club.
Doh. It's so unfair. I'd do it for free and work nights, or even
afternoons. Imagine the thrill of walking out there for your home debut.
Six thousand people you don't know chanting your name and cheering you on.
Paying to see you do something you really, really love doing. I wish I
could. Never mind, I'll just leave it to them, write about it as often as I
can and maybe, if I'm lucky one day, I'll get paid to write about it (Is that a hint, mister? - Ed).
Perhaps I'll stop pissing them off in the pub. Then again, maybe I won't.