Monday, February 14, 2005

Race For The Prize *


The crowd went crazy! Posted by Hello

I feel that a few more words are deserved for the boy's team's achievements yesterday. I haven't been as nervous during a game since Scotland played Wales to qualify for the 1986 World Cup - in fact, now that I think of it, that game was so tough on the nerves that our manager, the unique Big Man himself Jock Stein, died on the stroke of full-time. In fact...I'm about to go off on a tangent and write about Celtic and Jock Stein, so those who want only to hear about the boy's game will have to skip to the end.

I saw it written over the last few days, and I'm not sure by whom, that what films you saw, what books you read and what music you listened to between the ages of (I think) 12 and 16 formed the kind of person you are. There may be something in that, but I cannot ignore the things that I experienced and witnessed at Celtic Park during my formative years.

First of all were the friends of my dad's (dad not really having an interest in the beautiful game - and him being a hun when the chips were on the table, anyway) who took me to the games. Warm, compassionate ordinary working class blokes. While none of them were blood relatives, they were always my uncles and I will always consider them to be my uncles, so much do I have to thank them for. They would probably find it incredulous that I say this - and others may wonder at my over-sentimentality - but I really really believe that these people, without them necessarily knowing it, gave me my first lesson in solidarity, in being there for your fellow human being and, while doing so, joking about it at every given opportunity. They really were/are the salt of the earth.

And then I got a lot more about politics, history and anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism when I ventured to the matches on my own and abandoned the main stand for the terraces - the jungle being my terrace of choice, usually. I really am not over-exaggerating this one, as I look back on my life then, I did get taught an awful lot. Well, as I had, in effect, dropped out of school when I was 14, I had to pick up some lessons somewhere and the football terrace seemed as good a place as any other.

There were songs and stories about the Black and Tans, James Connolly, Wolfe Tone, the Easter Uprising, Bloody Sunday and the civil rights campaign and, later, about Bobby Sands and the other hunger strikers.

Some may condemn all this stuff as sectarian. Well, I would simply say that there is a difference between sectarianism and voicing a political opinion of which others disagree with. To say nothing about the difference between a political agenda which is based on the unity of a nation's population (republicanism) and one (unionism) which is based on the hatred of a particular religion/community.

Before I go on, I should say that this period in my life did not result in me later taking up an armalite or, even supporting the armed struggle in the Six Counties. No, much like Iraq today, I was one of those who could well understand the armed resistance, but considered that imperialist rule meant responsibility of the occupying state to lead a staged withdrawal and, under the political control of the native population, put in place the structures that would recognise the importance of reconciliation and dismantle the structures and organisations which are an obstacle to this.

So, there we go, that was my formative years. At the same time, it must be said, I was listening to music which advocated the end of the monarchy, for a general rebellion in society and for a whole host of other stuff, so it wasn't just the footie that got me going in life.

Back to the boy's team...


...yes, tense and nervous indeed for this semi-final of the Under 12s South East London and Kent League Cup. Although it was lightened a bit beforehand when I received an apology from someone over an incident that I wrote about a few weeks back. Add to the fact that more parents than ever before turned up and that put me and the rest of us in good spirits.

The boy's lot went down 1-0 to a cracking goal that came from a boy making a run into the area at a corner and blasting it into the back of the net from around 10 yards out. Red Lions bounced back just before the break. Meanwhile, prior to this, one of their players got booked (first I've seen all season) for a particularly bad tackle on one of our players. This led to a brief altercation between Reidski and one of the racist scum parents from Welling. Surprisingly, this was the only problem situation all afternoon.

Disaster just after the re-start as the Lions fell asleep and let Welling go 2-1 in front. From then on, it was one-sided, with non-stop pressure from our lads. But, no matter what they did, they just could not put the ball into the net. Chance after chance went begging and Reidski thought: "well, it's just one of those days when it isn't going to happen." Then, completely out of the blue, ball gets blasted into back of the net from a corner. Still, they piled on the pressure and still no joy. We had all by now given up on them winning in the alloted time and were content for a very nervy extra time, when one of the boys suddenly finds space in midfield and races through on goal. Being at the other end of the pitch, it definitely looked like he had taken the ball too far wide when, split second later, he cuts in just enough and whips the ball past keeper. This made for some wild celebrations on the sideline from the parents. But that was nothing to the jubilant scenes at the final whistle.

Why all these over-the-top celebrations for what is just a boy's game of football? Well, this wasn't just a game against a bunch of kids from Welling. This was a game for our lot, a multi-racial inner city bunch of kids, against a team (all white, not incidentally) whose parents regularly verbally abuse officials and opposition parents during the matches. I think our kids, without us telling them, knew this. And that's why it was so important to them and to us.

*The Flaming Lips

12 Comments:

Blogger Jim said...

Most excellent result for the young 'un!

6:53 am  
Blogger Jim said...

Whit happened to the photo?

6:55 am  
Blogger Reidski said...

Don't know why it isn't showing - it was last night!

8:54 am  
Blogger Darren said...

Well done with your son, and his team getting the result.

I remember my Sunday morning football days, and what a formative expereince it was for me. Our team losing 15-0 every week certainly set me on my way for becoming an ultra-left socialist. The footballing equivalent of lost deposits every time ;-)

I wish you hadn't hit me with that fact of what books you read between 12-16 being a formative experience in ones life, though. At a push I think I only read about four books during that time, and three of them would have been TV tie-ins. Does reading Record Mirror every week during the same week count? It would explain the eighties pop music fixation.

12:01 pm  
Blogger John said...

Four, Darren?! I can remember The Rtas by James Herbert and I Am Legend, some book about vampires. That's all.

There was an item on Irish news this a.m., Reidski, about two security guards at Dublin Airport who were appealing their dismissal for making Rangers fans cover up their shirts while in the airport. They went to their tribunal hearing today in Celtic shirts. But lost. Not often that happens these days.

4:45 pm  
Blogger John said...

That was The Rats, obviously.

4:45 pm  
Blogger Reidski said...

I wouldn't say I was an avid reader at that time because....I wasn't. That was a time for plunking school and introducing your liver to alcohol. I'm almost certain, though, that I did read The Rats by James Herbert. And I also remember, at the same age, reading a book - I'm sure it was Herbert, also - written as a narrative from a dog who used to be a human. Sounds weird and sounds shite. It was the former, but I remember it as rather good.

John, I love the story about the Dublin security guards - I would have dressed in similar apparel.

Darren, I remember playing for the BBs (yes the armed wing of the protestant youth movement) and our best result of the season was only getting beat 6-1.

11:41 pm  
Anonymous Messalina said...

I condemn all this stuff as sectarian. But then, I read the complete works of Vladmir Nabokov and Lawrence Durrell between the ages of 12 and 16.

10:03 am  
Blogger John said...

I'm sorry to hear that, Messalina. Had you been Sectioned?

3:46 pm  
Blogger Darren said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:29 pm  
Blogger Darren said...

I guess I should point out that one of the books was Alan Bleasdale's novelisation of 'Scully', and it still remains the funniest book I've ever read. If I could bottle the laughter engendered from the first time I read that book I would be donating it free of charge to the National Sick Service.

On Messalina's point, I did pretend to read Kafka's 'The Trial' and Tolstoy's 'Anna Kareinina' from the age of age 15, whipping the copies out my bag to pretend to read them if any teacher's popped by in class and wondered what I was reading. Amazing the kudos I picked up from that wee small deception.

I was a pretentious bastard even back then. ;-)

5:32 pm  
Blogger Jim said...

No shit Darren, I did that in 3rd Year with War and Peace. Big problem of course was you had to lug it around for a few weeks as nobody would believe you had finished it, so therefore it was a) A Pose
and
b) You couldn't manage yor way through it

5:43 pm  

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