A feeling of both fear and excitement dominated him for the whole day, making learning from a passionless teacher rather futile. When the bell rang on that Tuesday for the end of the day there would be no waiting about for friends to walk home with, instead a brisk walk home to get ready for that evening’s match.
He rushed his tea and waited for his Dad to come home, realising in the end that he could have taken more time and ensured the pizza had defrosted before consuming. The headlights rolled up the drive, it was time to go to the match!
It was not any old match, it was a match that meant life or death. Local bragging rights were at stake tonight. A win meant that the walk to and from school could be made with pride and not humiliation. He knew the actions of his eleven heroes tonight would ultimately decide for him how enjoyable school was to be until the next grudge match. Only football could divide a friendship at that stage in life. It mattered!
Due to the large crowd, parking was in short supply and his frustration boiled over as the warm ups and the team announcement could be missed. Finally, a parking place only big enough for the car itself is utilised and its on with the scarf, coat and gloves. ‘This is it!’ he thought, the floodlights emitting a beam of light above the mecca only a mile away. Its half past 7, it’s 15 minutes until kick off, the queue is massive.
He can smell the atmosphere as he hears the lucky ones already warming their vocal chords and causing commotion on the tin structure. Ticket in hand, clutching it like a million pound note, he passes it over to the turnstile operator who defaces a memento of the night with his careless ripping. ‘Port Vale Beano, get ya fanzine!’ in a southern accent hits him smack in the face but there was no time for fanzines, programmes, refreshments or cockney sparrows, the cauldron of noise was waiting…
He exited his mecca with his head in a whirlwind, vocal chords strained with a ringing in his ears. The adrenaline was still coursing through his veins as he attempts to put the last ninety minutes into perspective.
“I can’t wait for the next match!” he stammered, his throat hoarse and heart still pounding. His dad, seemingly unfazed by the event he had just witnessed replies, “Don’t get used to this, these are gravy days. Football is changing.”
Why is my Dad always correct?