This isn’t an autobiography. It’s more of a confession to myself as I approach middle age.
I’m not a famous person.
- worked with me
- attended the same school as me
- or are related to me,
you will have no idea who I am. Which is completely fine by me! I like it that way. It means I can be my own messy self and never have to deal with your judgement. Yippee!!
Notice how in the numbered list I didn’t include played sport against me? There’s a reason for that. Reasons that will become more clear as this series continues.
In the year of Your Lord, two thousand and seventeen, on the 29th of January, I turned 32 years old. I don’t feel 32 years old. I still feel like a curious and confused 18-year-old – legally an adult, but with the maturity of a socially underdeveloped teenager. Well… maybe not that bad. I’m able to look after most things.
Except ironing. I’m shite at ironing. No-one ever showed me how, and all the life hack articles on-line just do not help. I either have to ask someone to do it for me, or attempt it myself, and show up at work looking like I store my shirts in an accordion.
Like most Irish men, I have an interest in plenty of different sports. Wait, that comes off as misogynistic. Shit. I don’t want to alienate potential readers this early. Hang on, I’ll start that again.
Like most humans, I have an interest in plenty of different sports. I subscribe to satellite sports channels, sports podcasts like the excellent Second Captains, and read and listen to any sports news that I can. Throughout my life I have tried playing many different sports as well, mostly depending on who my idols were at the time.
I was listening to one of these shows the previous week and the panel were discussing the future of, the now former Manchester United striker, Wayne Rooney. Some one quipped, “Ah Rooney, he’s too old now, isn’t he? I mean he’s 31!”.
I nearly ploughed the car in to the tractor in front of me. 31 is too old? Fuck! I’m 32!!
A huge existential crisis descended upon me. Feelings of dizziness and light-headedness enveloped me. (although, that could have been as a result of the fumes coming from the contraption on the back of that tractor) Performing the correct road safety checks, I erratically pulled the car in to the hard shoulder .
Visions of myself in various team colours, lifting various trophies flashed before my eyes. These visions consisted of:
- Me in a Cavan jersey lifting the Sam Maguire cup.
- Me in a Cavan jersey lifting the Liam McCarthy cup (look, if you’re going to fantasize, you may as well go all out).
- Me in an Irish rugby jersey lifting the 6 Nations trophy.
- A chiseled, long-haired version of me – red-faced from exertion and possible steroid use, lifting the WWE heavyweight title at Wrestlemania. The first ever to be held in Croke Park.
- An Olympic medal ceremony where I pick up gold for Ireland in Tae-kwon-do and Judo. The first ever Irish athlete to do so.
- Me in a Manchester United goalkeeping kit, drinking champagne out of a pair of Adidas predators.
As the slurry fumes wore off, and the visions subsided, I came to the cold realization, “You’re never going to achieve any of those things! You’re too old for most, and too fat for the rest!” Well, I thought I did. That was the farmer shouting in at me. I hadn’t realized I was babbling hysterically in the car. The fucker must be spreading a mixture of pig shit and LSD on his land. Those fumes were bloody toxic.
The rest of the drive home was spent thinking of ways to invent time machines. Perhaps if I could return to 1990, and tell the 5-year-old me watching the Ireland v Romania World Cup penalty shoot-out that if he didn’t eat sugar and trained really hard, he might have a chance at getting a trial with a League of Ireland club. Maybe my 5-year-old brain would understand and act accordingly. Although, and this is more likely, the 5-year-old me would probably get a massive fright, think future me was some dead relative sent from heaven to scare him by God because he’d pissed the bed the night before, suppressed the memory, and tripled the sugar intake just to deal with the anxiety.
I’ll never know. Or maybe I will. Technology is constantly evolving after all.
About six weeks after my crushing realization, I sat down and collected my thoughts. How did such a huge sports fan never reach his potential?
Was it bad luck?
Was it laziness?
Or was there never any potential there in the first place?
All these questions will be answered here in this weekly series. It will tell the story of how a sporting nobody remained a sporting nobody.
How the underdog remained the underdog.
How someone who wasn’t very good at …. you see where I’m going with this.
The story will continue, like all good stories do, in rural Cavan – a backwards, conservative county in the Republic of Ireland.