Running In, Please Pass

I have loved football all my life and I continued playing it until my late fifties at which point I started to become rather over-agitated when kicked by children, deciding that my subsequent reactions were not always beneficial for my blood pressure.  I found being kicked by people of my own age so much more acceptable, but so few of them were still at it.  And I don’t want you to think that I was totally averse to a bit of kicking myself, but when those you are kicking are younger than your own children, it all starts to feel a little odd.  Frustration started to take hold and I considered it wise to heed the signs that it might be advisable to call it a day.  We are not talking elite football here; there were no uniformed paramedics on stand-by.  If I had suffered a heart attack, somebody would have had to nip round to the local Co-op on their pushbike to find out whether the community defibrillator had been nicked again.  I fear that the black shroud would have been tightened around me long before the hands of the on-call doctor.

Anyway, I stopped playing and I should be able to say that I thought no more about it, but that would be simply untrue.  I think about it all the time.  Not going back of course.  I am sixty three and even though I know that I am fit enough to do it, it is the reaction of the other players, potentially a quarter of my age, that I fear.  The possibility of not being tackled, lest I should break, is not something I choose to consider.  The possibility of not being substituted by the manager whilst having a mare, lest I should be terminally upset, is not something I would ponder.  There is definitely no going back. 

So I now need to contemplate ‘Walking Football’ and, it may be a sign of my softening brain, but there are times when it almost feels like a good idea.  There are also times when I question the entire rationale of taking myself off to play a game with a bunch of old codgers who cannot run anymore.  Me, an old codger who can run, sometimes for seconds at a time.  Is it really appropriate?  Could I play football without, at least, breaking into an amble?  Would I be forced to chase the ball like Benny Hill chasing a scantily-clad nurse*?  How fast is it possible to walk without breaking into a trot?  Is there, perhaps, a maximum walking speed and, if so, how is it measured?  It all sounds just a little too complicated to me.  Maybe I need to look for some other form of low impact sport to replace those that propriety dictates I can no longer do.  What about cricket with a foam ball and a rubber bat; tennis with no opponent, but with the ball on a length of string; perhaps touch rugby could be slowed down by tying boot laces together and wrapping the ball in Velcro.  Maybe I should take up Crazy Golf, I’m sure the walk would do me good. 

*If anybody below the age of fifty is reading this – although God knows why they would – they may need to Google Benny Hill and watch Youtube in order to understand what I am getting at.  I wish it to be known that I cannot be held responsible for attitudes that were fifty years out of date before Mr Hill started employing them.  Just saying…


17 thoughts on “Running In, Please Pass

  1. I can relate to this. I remember coming up against a much younger team to us and they were all step-overs and flip-flaps. I ended up constantly kicking them too although not because of spite but because by the time I’d manoeuvred my foot to making the tackle the ball had been swept well out of the way. In the end we all sadly hang our boots up in favour of less treacherous pass times.

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  2. Ah, yes I played on till near the half century. Played out more like; Picture a frigid day, sleet sheeting in, a puddle of mud of a dirty pitch. All is misery. Comes a through ball, comes the smooth acceleration of yore- oh, snap! A blown calf cut me off in the slime. Such is life. I don’t believe I could go back, even at walking pace. I think I’d get lost in the shuffle now.

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