September 4th 2016
Today I played a match of eleven a side football for the first time in 10 years. A friend of mine is signed up to a team with his brother, and so I thought it would be a good idea to go along for a match. In hindsight? It wasn’t. My last proper 11v11 game was at under-13 level, a while ago.
Because I was a newcomer to the team, and wasn’t technically signed on to the club yet, I started the game as linesman. Which – let me tell you – is not a doddle. Firstly, it’s a lot of running up and down that line. And secondly, my eyesight is awful so I had to put my glasses on. But more on my eyesight later. Also, as a linesman you don’t just have to run up and down. You have to, like, wave the flag to indicate things. I had no idea what I was doing, really. I just pointed for throw-ins and stuff.
Because I hadn’t officially yet signed on to the team I wasn’t technically allowed to play, so I had to pretend to be one of the other guys who wasn’t there. So, when it was finally my turn to come on the pitch, I put my flag down, took my glasses off and jogged on. The ref waved me over.
“Name?” he said.
I panicked. I’d forgotten what name I was supposed to give.
“Pardon?” I asked, stalling for time.
“Name?” the ref asked again.
“Jacob,” I said, remembering the first part.
“Is that your first or last name?” he asked. Who the fuck would have ‘Jacob’ as a last name??
“Jacob Good,” I replied. I’d remembered my line… eventually. I think.
I ran over and took my position on the right of midfield and ran up and down the wing for a half an hour.
We lost 9-2, I got nutmugged and my main contribution to the game was taking a foul throw. My Sunday league debut went well.
Back to my eyes: it turns out that without my glasses, I, well… I can’t see too good. So when the ball came flying in my general direction it took me half a second to decipher which ball was the real one and which one was being imagined by my slight double vision. And by the time I’d figured it out the opposing left back had won the header anyway.
Because were against a team of, shall we say, better quality than ourselves, we spent a lot of time defending. But when we cleared the ball out, it was my duty as a winger to run after it, and then turn around and run back to defend as soon as we lost the ball again.
My experiences on the right wing were very similar to my experiences as a linesman. It was just a lot of running up and down the touchline without much contact with the ball. I thought that because of my recent escapades into middle distance running that I’d have the fitness to deal with the running aspect of the game, but I found myself worn out more quickly than I would’ve liked. It’s a different kind of running, I guess. It’s a 50 metre sprint, followed by an about turn, then a 50 metre sprint followed by an about turn ad infinitum.
The good news is that I didn’t look too out of place because, as you’ll remember, we lost 9-2, and a good chunk of those goals came before I was on the pitch. So it wasn’t only my fault. I’m told that the team we faced today are the best team in the league, so I guess that’s one encouragement to take into the rest of the season.
Until tomorrow, maybe next time we’ll only concede eight goals.