Trouble is, I could never see. For all the pumped up enthusiasm, the group hugs, the shouty motivational instructions from the most surprising of quarters, there was nothing that could be done about the simple biological fact that I couldn’t see anything clearly which was more than six inches in front of me.
Everything was a blur: the pitch, the tall white upright posts which traced themselves into the grey afternoon fog, the stooping guys ahead of me, steaming in anticipation in their hooped purple and green shirts, and somewhere… over there… in the distance… the ball…
The ball which the very next second was coming brown and lumpen towards your face at a breakneck pace right out of no-where followed by the inevitable baying mob of boys charging towards you, their eyes skywards, looking for the ball, whilst your eyes were doing all they could to give you a hint of where you actually were on this muddy miserable afternoon.
I’d hold my arms out in front of me, a supplicant seeking forgiveness before he got flattened by the mob who continued to chase the sodden leather pill towards the try line oblivious to the flattened 12 year old who now stared out to the heavens from the relative peace of the mud bath he now found himself laying prone in, arms stretched sky bound, whispering a pathetic shout of ‘mine‘ to nothing but a seagull which had strolled onto the pitch in pursuit of worms which had been unearthed from the safety of their muddy homes by the purple and green hoop shirted mob who were now intent on what now looked like a mass collaborative excavation to Australia underneath the goal posts.
“Get up boy”!” barked the referee as he hobbled his way up the pitch towards the action. “Can’t you see what’s going on up there?” He added, somewhat unnecessarily I thought at the time.
Trouble is, I couldn’t see anything. Not least the trouble that was coming my way from all corners of the pitch later that day.