There must be something wrong with me. I have found myself at the age of 47 playing proper football again (you know; on grass, 11 a side, with referees and everything). I have joined an over 45s team who play in a local league (founded in 1892). How it happened is a long story, but I remember very clearly my first game back after more than 12 years and only my second game in 18 years. The match flew by (and to be fair largely passed me by) but I distinctly remember getting up two days later feeling like I had come down with flu – every part of my body ached! The fact that I still play 5 a side regularly and go running as clearly no preparation at all for a proper game of 11 a side.
I have to say the standard of football is pretty good although I guess you would expect that given that only the most committed of footballers would still want to play regularly when they reach 45 and to be fair there is no shortage of commitment on the pitch either. Last Saturday was a game in point. We were playing a local team away. I won’t name them but after having beaten them 6:0 the previous week, it was pretty clear from the kick off that they were letting us know that the re-match was going to be different. By the end I had twisted my knee after being fouled, had an elbow in the ribs, a stud mark across my back and an elbow in the eye. It also reminded me that we are very tribal animals, because after not knowing my team mates’ names for the first couple of games it is amazing how quickly you bond with your team-mates when the boots start flying!