This week’s column sees the Secret Junior Footballer remembers one of the high points of the season.
I’ve lost the run of myself lately. Too much Facebook maybe? It all came to a head last weekend.
It was in the Crescent with the family doing the shopping that it dawned on me that it’s been so long since I played a game of ball that I’m starting to crack up a little bit. I mean, there’s only so many times that you can check the Facebook forum to see what the news is, or listen out for Live 95fm’s sports bulletin before you get sick of talking about football and you just want to play.
My Sundays have become family days – code for fixing whatever needs fixing around the house. Going by the weathermen there’s no end in sight either. Now we’ve dealt with the mid-winter break already so let’s maybe get a little bit giddy about getting back to playing matches and see how the season might shape up. In the league we’re well out of contention for promotion and just about hold our own against the teams around us.
That said, we did have a really good victory against the team currently in second place and honestly, even though it was a bit of a flash in the pan, it’s the game that really stands out for me. We had a full team out for the first time all season and had good numbers at training since the hurling finished.
Nobody was in the pub the night before and on the morning in question it was warm. There was a heavy dew on the pitch so that in the warm up the footballs slipped over the grass and sat there plump and round, begging to be kicked. The boys were sharp in the opening few minutes, everyone talking, everyone full of energy and up for it. I won my first header – of the day I mean, not my first header ever – which is generally a good sign.
You can usually feel a good performance before you see it and it has as much to do with the opposition as it does yourself and you could see, straight away, that their lads didn’t fancy this game one bit.
All they needed to do was show up, swan around and take three points back to town. After 25 goal-less minutes they started to crack. The manager was on at the referee every second challenge. The goalkeeper was on to the back four after our left winger had got in behind for the eighth time. By half time they were all over the place and the star centre-forward was complaining of a sore shoulder so he had to come off.
Our lads sensed it and we took the lead with 20 minutes to go. That was it, their manager was told to leave the ground when they were reduced to ten men when their right back was caught out as the last man and we ground out the win.
I look forward most weeks to feeling that feeling again but it’s rare. When you feel it though, you know.
PS - I’m taking nominations for the chance to be the secret junior footballer next season. Please send your nomination on the back of a tenner to the usual address and I’ll update you all on the front runners in the coming weeks. The money’s unbelievable lads and all the Wok King you can eat.