Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I am walking in the park with my girlfriend, admiring the signs of spring and generally being happy that so many people are out enjoying themselves. Suddenly, a stray football heads towards us. A group of men shout and indicate that they would like me to kick it back to them. I really really want to kick it back – it is immensely satisfying to connect your foot with a football and give it a good hard thump.

However, they are very masculine looking men – a couple of them even have their shirts off, and it’s not that warm – and I don’t want to miskick it in front of them. It is also possible that my girlfriend may have inferred from past footballing anecdotes that I captained the England schoolboys team and that I have never corrected this misapprehension.

The truth is that I did play football for my school. My primary school. Whose team was selected entirely from the top class. Which contained 12 boys. I was the substitute. Who was often lucky to get a run out at all. It wasn’t even some kind of FA academy school that I went to either, where I was being kept on the bench by a young Alan Shearer.

The truth is that despite my enjoyment every time I kick a ball I am probably not that good at football. So, as the ball bounces towards me I am aware that there is a lot riding on this kick. I keep my eye on the ball, head over the ball and strike through the ball, like it said to on my Kevin Keegan poster.

It goes flying through the air, swerves, beats the keeper, top right corner: GOOOOOOOOOOAL!

My trainer, that is. The ball slices off at about 130°, narrowly missing a surprised woman walking an even more surprised dog. One of the bare-chested men sighs and runs to collect it.

I mutter something to my girlfriend about being used to playing in proper football boots, and hop off to collect my shoe.