Monday, 26 March 2007

They Think Its All Over

Went to watch my son play football for his school this afternoon. He had a few weeks of glory in the D team, before the pressure of such dizzy heights got to him, and he was relegated to the E’s. I must say, he seems to have dealt with it better than some of the mothers whose sons have made a similar slide from the A’s to the B’s.
There is something very heartwarming about watching small boys play football. They are completely untroubled by concepts such as tactics, strategy, or indeed skill, preferring to all cluster around the ball like enthusiastic bees, hacking away indiscriminately. It took some of them half the match to realise which direction they were supposed to be running, so you can imagine the confusion after half time, when they swapped ends.
Its now several hours after the event, and I’m relaxing with a big, generous Wolf Blass Shiraz (Tesco £8.49).
I spent the match standing on the touchline with a cluster of spectator mums. Those in heels were trying to pretend that they weren’t really sinking backwards, and every now and again, one high pitched voice or another would warble a few words of encouragement.
The opposition goalie wore gloves that made him look like Mickey Mouse, and had the terrified expression of a rabbit caught in the headlights. When our boys managed, by pure fluke, to chip the ball past him and into the net, it was difficult to know whether to clap, or to run on and console him. We opted to clap, partly to restore our failing circulation.
Once there was a score on the board, the father of one of the visiting team started prowling up and down the touchline. After a while, he could contain his frustration no longer and started yelling at his son, issuing commands like ‘Tom! Mark your own man’ and ‘Move to the left, Tom!’ He gradually worked up to such a torrent of orders, that the poor child kept missing the ball completely, he was so anxious to follow his father’s instructions.
When I was at school, I happily played netball for eight years without my parents ever attending a match - I probably would have been mortified if they had ever turned up. These days we are called upon to witness our children’s every move - they can’t shake us off. I’m sure little Tom would have been absolutely fine today, if it hadn’t been for his father’s ‘support’.
Maybe if I’d had a testosterone-releasing Intrinsa patch, I could have run up and down the touchline too, either barking at my own son or propositioning the alpha Dad. Neither prospect is very appealing.

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