Once Upon A Time, I Was A Legend In My Own Mind  

Fallic40 53M
3214 posts
6/4/2006 2:59 pm
Once Upon A Time, I Was A Legend In My Own Mind

I have to admit that I used to live soccer (and in a matter of true Englishness we will refer to it hereon out as FOOTBALL). I retired from playing football outdoors at the end of the 1997 season due to 25 years of intense competition and nine years of marriage to a confirmed football hater taking its toll. I still played indoor soccer, but at a much lower level: in terms of both competition and intensity. Last weekend, for the first time since June 1997, I set foot on a grass field and kicked a ball in (something sort of like) anger.

I now know why I retired.

For years, I was one of the most feared defenders on the west coast. I played as an outside defender with the manic intensity of a middle linebacker. Nothing was sacred: not my body nor my opponent’s body. I also had attacking skills that were 15 years ahead of their time in terms of being a force on the wing. I could dribble (I still can, but that is only after 10 beers and can easily be wiped up with a napkin), I could shoot the ball and bend it anyway I chose, I could pass and I could score goals. This was serious shit for a full back. (I also had the Glorious Argentinean Soccer Mullet back in the ‘80s and a pair of Amazingly Short Shorts.) Add to this, the fact that until it became mandatory, I never wore shin guards and you have the picture of (in my mind) footballing perfection.

Now I do not say this to brag, although it feels really good to say. I use this as a point of reference as to how good I was, and also how good my team mates were. In our minds, we were a team of English pirates sacking the Spanish (or in most cases Mexican,) Main. Sir Francis Drake would have loved us.

So this same bunch of guys all got together at the pub a couple of weeks ago and after a pint or ten said “Fuck me, I know what we should do. We should go and play in the over 40 division in a tournament.” Someone else said “that would be fun.” And it sort of snow balled from there as, after all, bad ideas are just so much more fun than common sense, especially if beer and twenty guys are involved.

“But I have just recovered from a heart attack,” I said. My best friend looked over at me (sort of cross eyed as he was drunk) and said to not be a pussy. And so, as rational thought and football rarely intersect, I put in my $30 and I was in for the ride. We decided to play at the lowest level of the over 40s and we put together a roster of players that had once terrorized every team put in front of us. I don’t think we could give the local blind school a competitive match now.

The first game was on the Friday night of Memorial Day weekend and we met at the pub 90 minutes before kick off to (supposedly) go over tactics and our substitution patterns. We immediately had a beer and a shot to loosen up. We got to the game about 10 minutes before kick off and didn’t really have a chance to stretch.

We used to run pools on who would take out the other teams star player, throw the first punch or get ejected. This time, we ran a pool for the first game for who would cramp first, throw up first or pull a hamstring first. The first cramp came, no lie, five minutes into the game and I won the pool on that one: $100 for me as I had picked out the player.

My first impression of being back on a grass field was that the field was now at least a mile long and a mile wide. I don’t recall being able to see the other goal because of the curve of the earth. Very early in the first game, I did what I used to do and pushed the ball past a defender and sprinted after it. After about five yards, both myself, and the defender said “fuck it” and stopped running and let the ball roll out of bounds. After that, the game looked like one of those “tactical” Italian soccer matches that are played at a walking pace.

Once, I was capable of stream of consciousness profanity that spilled forth as I played (obviously a genetic trait as my oldest daughter has it mastered too). Many of my team mates could carry on several conversations, actually arguments, at once on the field. We played these games in wheezing silence. It is really hard to be profane while panting for air (it sounds like Stevie Canarbon in Malcolm In The Middle). I played ten minute shifts at outside full back in each of the first four 60 minute games as I split the time with another equally out of shape player.

Overall, the results were what we wanted. Our master plan called for us to finish fifth so we would not have to play on Monday. That would have been inconceivable twenty years ago as we only played to win. We had a beer or a shot before and after games and generally socialized with teams and players we had terrorized in previous tournaments. We even spent time partying and drinking with a team that we had, over the years, brawled, fought, and challenged for every major title in the Pacific Northwest and even further a field.

Perhaps this is what they call “maturity”.

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I also have to admit that I found out the following:

1. My legs are well and truly shot. I think the muscle fibers are now just assorted scar tissue with the odd bit of muscle fiber for show. On the other hand, you can’t pull it if you don’t got it.

2. I can still hit the ball at close to 90 mph. I no longer know where it is going. I think one free kick I took is still moving toward the atmosphere. It was probably what caused the severe weather we have had in Portland this week.

3. In an ironic twist, my ability to control the ball and dribble is far superior to when I was playing my best football mainly due to having spent so much time coaching my oldest daughter who is convinced she is Brazilian. I even “rocked the cradle’ (my daughter’s term) on a player. I would love to say that I then burst past him to shoot and score: the term burst of speed no longer applies.

4. Pain was my friend. I could take a kick in the ‘nads and just stand in my Errol Flynn hands on hips pose a la Robin Hood and laugh my manly laugh and invite the perpetrator to kick again. At 42 ½, every little bump left a bruise. I didn’t stop hurting until 11:17 am PDT on Friday. (I remember thinking “I am no longer feeling any pain. What time is it?”

5. Being able to see the ball to head it is amazingly important. The first time the goalie punted the ball out, I remember squinting into the gloom and thinking “where the fuck is it?” It then came blasting out of the atmosphere and smashed me in the face and rubbernecked me.

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Finally, I have to admit, that yes, indeedy, my footballing days are over. They were over long ago…………….but spending three days playing football and drinking with the lads was sooooooooo much fun that I will have to do it again.


_Safira 53F
11260 posts
6/4/2006 6:37 pm

***pointing and laughing 'cause I can and I've been there***

This is my blog - Comes With Warning Labels. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

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OboesHonedIambs 62F

6/4/2006 10:14 pm

No wonder I'm happier to let my sister play all the football she wants. That made me tired and sore just reading it!

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rm_titsandtires 51M/41F
3656 posts
6/4/2006 10:52 pm

Hey Fallic! Good to see you around.

I know exactly where you're coming from on this post. I grew up in St. Louis and played all through grade school, high school, and a bit beyond in the military. At 41, if you guys ever need someone to fill in for ya, let me know. (I can help you win the puking poll) If any of your mates ask "Who's this tires guy", just tell 'em his sister used to date Steve Petcher. (no lie!)

tires


papyrina 50F
21133 posts
6/5/2006 5:43 am

hi ,glad to see you back blogging


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rm_AnOddGirl 57F
3469 posts
6/6/2006 6:07 am

The difference between playing for keeps and playing for fun, Age!



Oddist


FeistySyn 51F

6/7/2006 9:16 pm

Can I see the video? ...

Apparently the depth of depravity here is bottomless... don't you feel right at home?
~~~~~


Fox4aKnight1 43F

6/14/2006 5:22 am

lolololol OMG that really gave me a laugh thanks hun .......and I feel for ya .....and have alot of the same problems ....I miss playing ...alot but I can't stand to watch ......its like toture... lol


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