Do kids still ask their parents (Santa) for full kits for Christmas? Or has modern society evolved correctly? The concept seems ridiculous to me.
I had a couple of Manchester United kits as a child. I was a ridiculous child to be fair.
I don’t really support Manchester United anymore. My interest in soccer has diminished over the years. I like it just fine, but I’d never lose my shit over a result, or change plans to see a game. I’d do that for rugby, but only the international side. Soccer is something that I like to stumble upon and pleasantly enjoy now and again. Like a random café on a wet Tuesday, the film’s of Vin Diesel, or a chipper on the way home from a night out.
I’d be more of a well-wisher now than a fully fledged fan. I don’t own any memorabilia from the current era, but I wouldn’t say no to an ‘aul vintage jersey if I was offered one.
Why Man U you ask? Well, I suppose my earliest memory of Man U involved a Kevin Moran red card and me shitting myself. Actually, I was only four months old, and I don’t remember it. Family members like to tell the story though, as if me defecating in my own nappy as a baby would somehow embarrass me now. It doesn’t.
You need to have actual self-esteem in the first place for it to be lowered.
Anyway, what happened was, Kevin Moran was sent off in the 1985 FA Cup Final for fouling Peter Reid who was through on goal. I think Dad, a massive United fan, took umbrage with this decision and made his feelings known to the referee. I disagreed with both, and promptly shat myself. I think I also may have voiced concerns after Norman Whiteside scored the winner, I’m not entirely sure.
So, the love for Manchester United came from Dad. My Mam’s side all supported Liverpool and Tottenham, and a couple of slow cousins were Everton fans. The Liverpool fans always like to remind me and my brother of Liverpool’s previous successes, and laughed when we’d get frustrated and cry. The same cousin’s phone never seemed to be in service if I wanted to call for a friendly chat after a Liverpool defeat to United. This was incredibly strange as their dad, my uncle, was an engineer for the phone company.
Playing soccer. Now this was a different story.
Most of the soccer I’ve played was either in someone’s back garden, or on a tarmac yard in school. Oh yeah, indoor soccer and astro-turf 5-a-side. I’ve done that too. The walls and fenced in enclosures of these settings can be very forgiving to someone with an awful first touch.
Like Gaelic football, I was either a defender or a goalie. I’s not that I didn’t want to play up front, I just loved a theatrical dive or a big slide tackle. Nine times out of ten these manoeuvres were performed no-where near a ball. Ankles and shins were usually targeted in the back garden. That’s mainly because I fancied myself to come out on top in a scrap with my younger brother. I shouldn’t have. He fought dirty, like every younger brother does. It’s their right I suppose. The fucker was strong too…
I’ve only ever played 11-a-side soccer once. And this was as a 27-year-old adult. My college had a Northside v Southside charity match as part of RAG week. I played centre-back for the Southside team (my campus was on the Southside of Dublin).
All the Northsiders were in the college of engineering and construction. Real men. Men who could play ball. All the guys on my team were from the college of Media, Arts and Tourism. Dreamers, poets… saps.
RTÉ were also there to speak to our student union president in relation to fees and student accommodation. The pricks recorded some of the match and showed highlights on the news that night.
One of the highlights shown? Me scoring an own-goal with my massive fucking head. I swear to God; this melon gets me in to more trouble than it’s worth.
Philip Bromwell, the reporter, had set up the camera behind our goals as we were defending a corner. I happened to be the tallest guy in the box, I was close to being the widest as well. The ball was floated perfectly in to the area by the Northside full-back. Our “coach” screamed: ‘GET YOUR HEAD ON THE END OF THAT BRADY!”
I was incredibly hungover. (It was RAG week after all!) The previous night was €2 bottles in Dicey’s. The fact that I’d drank around 12 bottles of Desperado’s followed by some shots meant that it was a miracle I even got my head through the jersey that morning.
My severely dehydrated and cramping legs decided to leap with all the power I possessed to meet the ball. I got my head on it alright. I just wasn’t facing the right way. If it had have been up the other end, it would have been a finish that Duncan Ferguson would have been proud of. I blasted it past our keeper, and took him and several defenders out in the process. If it was possible to win the game by knocking members of your own team in to the goal, the ref would have blown it up there and then.
Philip Bromwell from RTÉ was absolutely pissing himself behind the goals. He nearly knocked over his camera. It’s a pity he hadn’t been standing closer to the goal mouth. If I had collided with it, I would have made shite of his equipment. I would have made sure to have destroyed the footage as well.
The fiasco of my only ever 11-a-side game aired on the six-one news that night and was repeated on the nine o’clock news. None of my clearances, my big tackles or my probing balls (behave yourself) were featured. Just my big, clumsy, oafish own-goal.
Fucking RTÉ, man. Just knowing that footage exists in their archive makes me very uncomfortable. If I ever get caught for not paying my TV licence, I’ll get my solicitor to have the footage of my performance erased as part of my plea bargain.
As sporting failures go, it doesn’t get much worse than having one broadcast on national television.
Or does it?
Yes, yes of course it does.
Find out how next time on A Brief History of My Sporting Failures.