Archive for the 'footy' Category

Madame George

Footy tournaments as alluded to previously provide me great ways of wasting time in other wise boring and tedious situations, eg work, visiting dad in hospital (just kidding really) or indeed life in general. A good international is hard to beat (the stunning drama of Turkey v Czech Rep provided just that), though I’ve tired somewhat of watching club football. Give me the six nations any day over the champions league.

Of course when it comes to playing then give me footy any time. It is the beautiful game. Even when I’m playing

What many see as detracting from the game is the relentless play acting and diving. The dramatics and theatrics played out in even the softest challenge is quite something to see. Some see this as taking away from the game. Though it is a form of entertainment in itself.

A bunch of overpaid posers, ponces and women they may be, but they have their moments.

Fat Freddy’s Drop

Footy tournaments are wonderful distraction therapy. Watching terrible games twice a day, just in case you miss a cracker (yes I missed Holland-Italy…).

Though in work this has the added advantage of giving me something to do while waiting for the “magic cream” to cook on the kiddies.

Your child, safe in my…oops I dropped him…

A day in the life

Originally thought I could do an April Fool’s blog and fool you into thinking that I’ve done something mad or crazy, but then realized I didn’t quite have the imagination for that kind of thing. And I have this nagging inability to lie convincingly. Especially when I know I’ll have to admit it. When it comes to lying over petty things with no chance of discovery, or lying in the face of plainly obvious facts then I’m your man.

So instead you’ll get a ‘day in the life’ thing, but not quite like the Beatle’s song, if only cause I didn’t ‘roll out of bed and drag a comb across my head’ – there not being enough hair, and me not owning a comb.

Got up at 8am. Standard morning time at the weekends. I tend to get up at 6am on the weekdays, but I go to bed at like 10.30pm here so it’s no sacrifice.

Made it to church for the first time in two months. And before I’m cast down as a heathen I was in the south island for the first month and have worked 3 out of the past 4 weekends.

It was cool to be back. In no way have I made relationships in the place that I could in any way compare to home. Maybe I expected more but perhaps I was unreasonable. In some ways it’s weird, cause there’s only about two other people my age who go there. It’s mostly older couples and their kids. But they’re a good bunch.

I was playing bass, which got me out of having to actually talk to people. I still find stuff like that a bit tough. I think I find church easier when I have a role, something to do. Now of course chatting to folk and enjoying their presence and sharing their burdens is, I imagine, immeasurably more useful than playing bass but hey…

Coffee and hot dogs after church, in church in fact. We (I?) could definitely learn a few things. The homeless guys who come to the church regularly always get served. Perhaps another lesson we could learn.

From church I made it home to sit on the sofa and write a few emails and check if there was any one on Skype. Though it was 1 am back home by that stage and the only one I saw on was Bart and I’d spoke to him the day before and I thought he might be a bit tired!

I had to be in Havelock North for a footy match for 2.30 pm, which I made it to for 3pm! I started at centre-back and was instantly knackered. This, despite running three times a week for a few weeks. The fact that I’m only 25 for a while longer is hitting me. Somehow that one extra year seems to make all the difference when I think about it.

I’m part of the Division 1 team for Havelock North Wanderers and we were playing the Premiership team for the same club. Makes it all sound very professional. But when you realize that I’ve been brought in as an outfield player as some kind of ‘star player’ then you’ll know the type of level we’re at.

We got thoroughly trounced, mostly due to fitness but also due to a lack of basic understanding in how to move the ball about the park. Every ball was a panicked long, over the top ball, straight to their feet. I managed to get a couple of triangles going at one point of the game, which was a wonderful idea but poorly executed due to my complete lack of ability. They were not so much triangles as straight lines. Barely straight, at that.

I always wonder how much of stamina and endurance is actual physiology or is it all just psychology. If I’m optimistic I favor the former, but if I’m honest I’ll concede it’s probably more the latter, and all this running about seems like a lot of hard work to me.

So, spurning the offer of an after match beer in the club house (apparently free – what a bizarre concept, would certainly have the punters piling in at home), I headed home to quietly expire on the floor.

However it was a sunny day, and everyone knows I’m a sucker for a sunbeam. So instead of heading north I went west, over the hills to the beaches, with John Piper on the stereo. The drive remains one of the loveliest round here. Through vineyards, orchards, over the Tuki-Tuki (following the Maori tradition of naming things twice, eg Onga-onga and Auckland-Auckland…) river and with views of Te Mata (pronounced ‘tomato’ in Belfast accent) peak and over the brown hills of hawke’s bay.

Ended up at my favorite beach (Ocean Beach) that I’ve waxed lyrical about before. Unfortunately it was a nice day, which meant it was full of humpy, flippin people enjoying themselves. Always ruins my self-obsessed melancholy…

Dandered up the beach and lay down (or rather collapsed) in the sand dunes with the setting sun over the hills keeping me warm. Simply glorious. In fact I’ll withdraw the self-obsessed melancholy comment, it was more of a sense of perspective and gratitude that I get to live here, that I’ve been given the life I have, that I’m in possession of a righteousness and heir to promises that I neither earned nor deserve.

Stopped on the way home for fish and chips – the joy of exercise is that it justifies fried food and sat in the flat loving it and watching the BBC news podcast.

All this left me with this moment. The time to write this. The time to get another few cups of coffee down my throat. And I’m at peace. Which is a tricky bird to catch. And I’m not sure it’s the point anyhow, though it does seem very attractive as an end in itself. And I’m not even sure that I could reproduce the same peace given the same set of circumstances.

For example. I could say that the following has given me this contentment: a full belly, some coffee, my usual Sunday evening run through of the Duke Special catalogue (mercy me and mercy you, you’re still in love in spite of me… I’ve forgotten how to feel, it’s easier to fake it… I could go on…), my emails before me, the flat freshly vacuumed (yes I’m that anal…) and a new book in my hands (another bloody love letter, by Anthony Lloyd, the reporter recently kidnapped in Palestine, a great story of catharsis, addiction, self-loathing and life at the extremes. No surprise I like it really…)

Though the above list sounds a little bit of a ‘happiest when’ section from Bebo or Myspace or something. I could make a lot of lists like that but I don’t think I could follow them. I mean I don’t think they’re reproducible as a quick fix, five step plan to contentment for ‘my so called life’. And I’m pretty sure it’s not the point. So I’ll take it with a pinch of salt (whatever that means), enjoying the moment for what it is but being careful not to get too comfy.

Hamilton – Part 1

Like most of NZ, Hamilton is named after somewhere in Scotland. Unlike most of the rest of NZ, Hamilton seems to have weather to match it. It appears to consist of dairy farms and fields and lots of rain. I suppose on a two day trip, that may be being a bit harsh.

I was in Hamilton for the weekend cause that where Sue Cuthbert was/is. And I was on a mission to deliver a pressie.

It’s about a 4 hour drive from Napier to Hamilton and I left about 8am on Saturday. It was cloudy in Napier, as soon as I got over the first mountain range it started to rain. And it just got heavier the closer I got to Hamilton.

The other reason I was going to Hamilton was to see one of the guys from the Senegal team – Wayne or Oz as we called him (he was a Kiwi, so the Oz thing came naturally). Oz had kindly offered me a game of footy with some of the guys he worked with, and I of course obliged. I figured a friendly Saturday afternoon kick about would go down well.

It however turned out to be something else entirely.

I arrived in Hamilton (in the rain) and met up with Suey, got some quick lunch and headed to the city to find Wayne and the footy. As we near the city, sue points out the stadium where we’re playing. I swerve slightly on the road and correct her and say “surely we’re not playing in a stadium�.” Suey doesn’t seem to grasp the significance. She’s a girl, it’s unfair to expect much else.

So we roll up to Waikato Stadium and I’m getting nervous. This is a proper international rugby stadium, the All Blacks frequently play here. It holds 20 000 people. It has marble hallways and the security guard wears a proper suit and has a tie.

How may you ask have I got here?

Oz works for the Waikato District council, doing some engineering type job I don’t really understand. They have a yearly match between the district council and the city council. Because the city council runs the stadium, they get to use it.

Oz’s team got beat 7-1 or something last year, so apparently I was invited in as a ringer (a novel experience for me!) to tilt the balance. Apparently I’ve worked for the district council for years, my accent just hasn’t wore off yet.

So I find myself in a fancy changing room (where the flipping well all-blacks get changed) with a bunch of random Kiwis, ready to run out onto one of the top pitches in NZ. I pinch myself and I don’t wake up. I pinch Wayne and he just looks at me funny.

I’m decidedly nervous. Even worse they want me to play out field. Already I can hear the sniggers of the guys back home as they read this.

Kiwis aren’t really natural footy players. Their short-necks, stocky builds and exceptional ability at rugby means it’s not their game. Some of the guys playing don’t even know he rules. Some of them are girls. There is a five minute team talk, involving a white board and a marker and lots of stick men as the coach tries to explain the off side rule, the 4-4-2 system and the Bosman ruling.

We run out onto the best pitch I have ever played on, to the roar of 7 supporters perched in row z to keep out of the rain. I pinch myself again.

I end up playing 40 minutes at right back and right wing, I have no boots so I slip over a lot in the rain. For a goalie, I do myself proud. My best moment is dragging the ball back, nutsing the best player on the park and then falling flat on my ass. Wayne plays a blinder and gets two goals, deserving at least four.

We draw 4-4 thanks to a last minute pinball equaliser for city and some dubious refereeing. The crowd has swollen to 11 and I get my standing ovation as I get substituted. I think the person standing was going to the loo or something.

I leave before the press conference. Garth Crooks wasn’t even there anyhow�


July 2022