It’s The Taking Part That Counts

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Mike wiped the sweat from his brow, and looked at his crestfallen team-mates who were gathered round him for his half-time talk. It was not going well, they were being out-thought, outplayed and simply outclassed by their opponents.  As team captain, it was his job to re-motivate the boys, lift their spirits and get them pumped for the second half.

“Come on guys,” he said, “we’re still in this. We just need to tighten up at the back and get the ball to Darryl.”

Darryl, who was by far and away the team’s best player, and was more than gratified by his captain’s faith in him, still felt a reality check was in order.

“Mike mate, we’re 10-0 down,” he said, “I don’t think we’re still in this at all.”

“Come on Darryl, we need to be more positive,” chided Mike sternly.

“No, I mean obviously, I want to be positive,” acknowledged Darryl, “but I mean, I think we’ve misjudged this a bit – they are quite a lot better than us.”

Mike siged. He knew what Darryl was getting at. When they’d first contemplated entering a five-a-side league, a few weeks back in the pub, there had been some concerns expressed that the sum talent of the team didn’t really amount to much. Darryl was fine, Pete was not without skill, although a little out of shape, and Roger was certainly keen, if not entirely what you’d describe as gifted. Eddie, Pete’s brother-in-law, was a reluctant recruit who’d only agreed to turn up because he ‘owed Pete a favour’ and there was certainly no guarantee he’d be back for future fixtures. As for Mike himself, well he was definitely the least able player out of the five. But he was enthusiastic and a natural leader. Or, at least, he was the only one who could actually be bothered to sign them up to a league.

Unfortunately Mike had rather misjudged the standard of the competition he had committed them to. Their current opponents ‘The Kingsmen’ (so named because they all drank at the Kings Arms) were clearly superior in every department. They also had a contingent of more than five players, meaning they were able to use substitutes, which was a luxury Mike and his team could only dream of. Nonetheless, ‘The Kingsmen’ had only managed to finish tenth out of fourteen teams last season. It was unlikely that future fixtures were going to get any easier for ‘Mike’s Machines’.

“To be honest guys, I don’t think this is really for me,” said Eddie, to the surprise of no-one, “I’ll see out the second half, but you might want to look at getting someone else for the next match.”

There were a few half-hearted efforts to change Eddie’s mind, but no-one realistically believed that there would be any need to recruit an additional player for future games.

Mike though, was not going to walk away without an attempt to rescue some pride in what was almost certainly going to be his team’s only fixture.

“Come on guys,” said Mike, “we’ve got to give it our all for another twenty minutes!”

There were non-committal grunts of unenthusiastic assent.

“And the first round of drinks is on me after the match,” continued Mike.

There were slightly louder, more enthusiastic murmurs.

“Now let’s get out there and give Eddie the send-off he deserves!” exclaimed the captain, loud enough to draw amused glances from their opposition.

“For Eddie!” bellowed Darryl as he charged onto the pitch.

“For Eddie!” came the slightly muted chorus from the others as they followed, with the exception of Eddie himself, who looked less than comfortable with the battlecry.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, albeit the goals did not come quite as thick and fast as they had done. ‘The Kingsmen’ had rather taken their foot off the gas, what with victory being so completely assured, and were using the remaining minutes as a training exercise, trying audacious passes and shots that they would never have contemplated in a closer fixture.

Perhaps it was this complacency that permitted Darryl to steal the ball of a rather cocky sub in the dying moments and smash what was the first strike on target for ‘The Machines’ all game. It was easily parried away by the goalkeeper, but, in the most unlikely of flukes, the rebounding ball was caught by an unintentional knee belonging to Mike as he bounded up the pitch with his unwavering enthusiasm. As the ball crossed the goal-line in what was the final act of the game, changing the final score from an embarrassing 15-0 to a much more credible 15-1, Mike was swamped by his team-mates.

The Kingsmen, for whom winning was nothing of note given the ease of their victory, were more than a little perplexed by the resulting celebrations from their opponents.

Mike, for his part, was in a reflective mood as he was carried out off the pitch on the shoulders of his friends. There may be no future outings for his ‘Machines’ but he would never forget his brief tenure as captain of this fine group of players.

James Complains About Quite A Lot Of Things

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Although I tend to mock the whole idea of New Year’s Resolutions, January 2017 seems to have coincided with me ‘upping my game’ in blogging terms. I’ve been posting pretty regularly, a minimum of three times a week and on occasion four. Furthermore, although many of my blog posts have been in the form of bad poetry or bad art, Mondays have tended to be for a more considered, longer piece of writing.

That, people of the blogosphere, takes planning and effort.

Seriously.

It might not seem like it but those meandering Monday posts, with questionable grammar and no particular point, do actually take me a bit of time to produce. I generally take the whole weekend to ‘craft’ them. Continue reading James Complains About Quite A Lot Of Things

Dreamland

James Proclaims (4)Image result for Faw FootballIn the post Brexit bewilderment, many people looked to sport to lighten the mood. It’s pretty clear that the UK is currently in a political and economical state of confusion, and while the long term effects of leaving the EU (which we haven’t even begun the process of yet) may not be as bad as some people feared and almost certainly won’t be as good as some people hoped, the short term effects are palpable and largely unpleasant. Continue reading Dreamland

Bregrets, I’ve Had A Few

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Despite recent evidence to the contrary, this blog is not meant to be about political commentary. It’s meant to be a whimsical collection of bad poetry, rants about soup and toilet-based anecdotes.

But the fallout of Brexit continues to dominate the news and as a citizen of the soon-to-be-former EU member state, I feel I should comment on it. Continue reading Bregrets, I’ve Had A Few

All you will find out by reading this is that I have a new football.

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Today I bought a football.

I know that there is something of an international readership of this blog, so I want to make sure everyone knows what I mean by ‘a football’. It’s an inflatable spherical object used to play a game of the same name. In America the game is called ‘soccer’ and therefore the spherical object is known as a ‘soccer ball’. That’s because in America there’s a different game that goes by the name of ‘football’. In the UK we call that  game ‘American football’, and the not-spherical inflatable object that is used to play ‘American football’, we refer to as ‘an American football’.

Now that we all know what I mean by ‘a football’, we can go back to the fact that I bought one today. Continue reading All you will find out by reading this is that I have a new football.

The Goblet of Football

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This post is about football, so it would be remiss not mention yesterday’s Fifa election, which Sepp Blatter, won, essentially unopposed. Again.  This despite much public outcry and allegations of corruption. This is the world governing body of a sport is it not? Because it felt a bit like he had held onto power in an oppressed totalitarian state having fought off a rebel uprising. His victory speech was more than a little incoherent, I felt. But he did remind me an awful lot of Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars films. Maybe that’s how he holds onto power. He’s actually a Sith Lord…

Anyway it’s the FA cup final today. It’s something of a marital cliché to suggest I’ll be watching it ‘if my other half lets me…’

But then she doesn’t really like football and I do, so out of courtesy I’m going to ask if she doesn’t mind ceding the television for the duration of the match and as I hardly ever ask, she’ll no doubt agree. We’re quite a functional couple in that respect. Continue reading The Goblet of Football