November 15th 2016

Today I plucked up the courage to go to Tuesday night football without my Dad. It was my first time going without him since he introduced me to the group a few months ago. This comes two days after I began thinking about my early retirement from Sunday league football.

I mentioned it briefly in passing on Sunday, but my team lost 14-0 at the weekend, and my manager waited until we were 10-0 down before bringing me off the bench. How bad must I be that it gets to double figures and he thinks ‘right, he probably can’t do any harm now, get him on’

To be fair to him, I think I had about three touches of the ball in the 25 minutes I was on. It was just a lot of running back to the edge of the centre circle and back. I don’t think full size football is my thing, as much I don’t like to admit it. I started going along to Sunday football because my mate plays, and I started going along to Tuesday football because my Dad plays.

Tuesdays are inside, 5 a side, and with an average age of 40+.

For those reasons, I think I prefer Tuesdays. Plus the fact that I don’t stick out as much on Tuesdays. It’s not that I’m bad, I’m just not great. But I enjoy it, and I don’t feel like I’m embarrassing myself (or my Dad) any more.

I get embarrassed on Sundays, so I don’t think I’ll go to those any more. Not unless they really need me. Probably if they’re 11-0 down, or something. I also like going along on Sundays because I get to see my mate, and other people my age – something there is a distinct lack of in my new home town. But, I’m too introverted and socially inept to develop even cursory friendships with them.

We’re all in a WhatsApp group to help us arrange fixtures and things, and I get so anxious when I have to reply to confirm my availability I sometimes don’t even bother.

The other day my manager messaged in the group and said “Can you play James?” and one of the other boys messaged saying “Who’s James?”


Admittedly, this mix-up is because for some reason when I play football my name changes to Jamie. My friend from Sunday football first introduced me as Jamie, and I didn’t have the nerve to correct him, so I just went with it.

Similarly, at Tuesday football I’m known as Jamie because my Dad introduced me as Jamie.

Long story short, until I was about 12 everyone called me Jamie, and then in my adolescent adamance I insisted that everyone call me James, because, well, that’s my name. But, for people who knew me before, it was hard to suddenly change the habit of a lifetime. So, against my wishes, ‘Jamie’ occasionally creeps in from family and close friends…

… and now, random football people whose names I barely even know.

Until tomorrow, who’s James?




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