This year at school I am fortunate to have a 1st XI team that has been enjoying the best results of any team in my time, having won every one of their Saturday fixtures, and although they slipped up in the county tournament, they had at least qualified for the West Schools Regional Finals. So I went into the tournament today with quiet optimism.
Which proved to be misplaced.
It started with a decent enough performance against one of the favourites and although it ended in a 2-0 defeat, we were playing well and had weaker teams to play in the group. But our performance level tailed off, losing the next one to the agony of a goal scored in the last five seconds, and although we played better in the next, we failed to score in a 0-0 draw, before subsiding 2-1 in our last match.
To paraphrase Alex Ferguson: “Hockey – bloody hell” and although he said those words after a memorable victory, I was thinking the same thoughts for contrasting reasons.
Claire reminded me (by text) that it is “Only Games”. But I find that the older I get the more tense I become over these matters. I fear that my genetic inheritance is coming through at last. The Old Man will not watch big sporting contests on telly as he finds it too stressful and even spent England’s finest hour in 1966 digging the garden as he couldn’t bear to watch in T.V. After the debacle today, I think I know how he feels.
And yet, and yet…. I would not have wanted to have been anywhere but on the side of the pitch today, posing and poncing around in my team track suit, doing my impersonation of a stressed premier league manager in the technical area. Because one day I still believe one of my teams will do really well – and I want to be there when it happens. It is the kind of addiction that keeps people going to see football teams, that eternal hope.
Somehow it is not the losing that hurts most: it is the hope, or the memory of that hope. It is hope that keeps us going in life, that drives us on and gives us the motivation to succeed. And that is why we come back for more. It is why sporting efforts are so much more than ‘only games’, and why in a couple of weeks when the under fourteen team is at the Regional Finals, I will need to be there in the technical area once more, pacing the touch-line.
Because I really believe (hope?) we can do it next time. Hopefully I will report back with better news by the end of the month.