You miss the old game


Whenever I haven’t played football for a lengthy period of time, two weeks should do it, I get a real itch to go out, run and kick a ball. I’d then text or ring some friends and organise a game for the following day/s on my local astroturf. This is a football blog that to date have offered you news, analysis and rants on the beautiful game played at the highest levels, but now I can write a little anecdotal personal piece for y’all to probably dismiss and stop reading after this sentence.

It would be 9 or 10 years now nearly, since I made my debut for Verona FC. Our first game was a friendly against Mountview away and I played centre-mid, as I hadn’t a clue what position I could be and where my footballing strengths and weaknesses were and we needed someone else to play there. I later on developed into a centre back at the heart of the teams defense. Throughout my years at the club I was ever-present at the position, and had four or five central defensive partners alongside me throughout my time. I was even made captain in my first season playing. Despite losing the honour the next year, I regained it later on in my footballing “career.”

Verona FC. (Sorry for the poor quality photo.)

 

For the first good few years, the Blue and Whites weren’t a great team. Consistent losses and lowly league finishes – we didn’t have much to brag about. However, if the players were examined individually, every one of them was a good player, capable of winning things (or at least matches.) But we didn’t usually. I never understood why, but we just never produced on the pitch.

Fast forward to the final three years at Verona, with my captaincy regained and the team playing decent football, we made the realistic goal for ourselves to win promotion, maybe even the league championship. We never won a league, and to be honest I don’t even know if we were ever promoted. The league system in which we competed was pretty flawed, and teams seemed to move in and out of leagues at the organizers discretion.

Nonetheless we had some great times on that team. We even played against a Bohemian FC youth team, in a league match, not even a mismatch cup draw. Memorable 2-2 and 4-3 scorelines also stick out, after being 2-0 down at times in both games. And even out very last game, beating a team whom I don’t even remember 5-1 at home on the ‘ditch pitch’, named so because of the adjacent ditch. I even scored in that game as a left-back, but didn’t score as a striker where I started the game.

My footballing “career” then took some twists and turns. When the first Verona team disbanded, I decided to join the Verona team of the age group a year older, who at the time were even training with the clubs senior team. These lads were ten times fitter and twenty times as skilled as my previous team, some giant stepping-up had to be done. I stayed on the team for a few months before tiredness caught up with me, as I was studying for my leaving cert (final school exams in Ireland) at the time and awake early in the morning 7 days a week, I needed a day of rest on Sundays.

Skip ahead another year and I decided to join a different local team, Castleknock Celtic. Plenty of my friends were attending training sessions and thinking about joining the team and this is what convinced me to do the same. It was my first year of college too that year (and still is, this part of the story took place only a number of months ago) and I was in the hunt for a job (which I never found, any employers out there, please give me a job) so I decided not to take up the chance to play in the NDSL Premier league.

So what has this all boiled down to? What was the point of writing all that? Well as it turns out, that itch of not playing football isn’t totally gone by just playing easy, relaxing games on the astro pitch around the corner from me.

I miss the build-up to a match, the preparation that goes with it. Getting the shorts and socks on, and meeting up with teammates some time before kick-off. I miss putting on my clubs jersey, and being with ten another footballers wearing the same colours. I miss staring our opposition down in attempt so suss out what who was like, and who to look out for. I miss competitive football, regardless of it being amateur. I miss playing local derbies, and that first slide tackle you send in in a match.

And today, hopefully I’ll get all that back again. I rejoined Castleknock Celtic and in an hour’s time (17:20) I’ll make my fourth debut, second for Castleknock Celtic. And funnily enough, I could well be playing centre-mid and it’s away to Mountview (see second paragraph.) Win or lose, I just want to play, and play decently at that. You do miss the old game.

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