Natural Born Sportsman

Posted: February 1, 2013 in Back To The Edge, Family Fortunes - Love A Bit Of Les Dennis

 

I am topless, and proud. I am on a football field, the last remaining vestige of socially acceptable shirtlessness for the un-gymmed man. Wall Heath Dan has organised a match, which means it’s been done well. But that some of the players are good.

 

Really good.

 

I won a couple of trophies as the Boys Brigade’s own William Prunier, but for some reason childhood achievements aren’t upholding my reputation like they ought to. I’m a great footballer! And everybody will see!

 

I take my official position, and slot myself in front of the goalkeeper. Nothing gets past me. And I will do anything to make sure of it.

 

The game kicks off, and immediately the pitch doubles in size. Which is fine, because I’m also double size. And quality. Their wingers pace past me, and I suddenly remember that I could never really run. My legs weigh the same as Norm from Cheers. Which at least means they could win a sumo match in seven hours in one episode in the second series.

 

The game continues and it’s not long before we’ve let some goals in. My reputation is suddenly as low as it has been since I last played football. And that is unacceptable. I decide to put in extra effort. I will no longer play. I will simply feel.

 

I feel.

 

I touch.

 

Hang on…

 

“Handball!”

 

“Oh no!”

 

Their whole team runs forward and starts trying to grab the ball. This can only mean two things, that that ball is secretly pie, or….

 

I look where I am.

 

“Oh no!”

 

“Bagsy taking the penalty!”

 

One of Wall Heath Dan’s beast friends has bagsied the penalty, and is taking a run up. And I know we have no chance.

 

Because I’m not in goal.

 

He scores. And I sigh, as Big Boots waves his fists at me. He’s probably on my team. I turn away, and approach our keeper. Now is not the time to tell him how not-me he is. You shouldn’t kick a man when he’s down.


“Don’t worry about it, mate.”

 

He looks dejected.

 

“I’m gonna play amazingly now.”

 

He stares at me.

 

I smile.

 

“Ryan Giggs!

 

I pelt it forward, and get stuck in.

 

To My Brother.

 

Everybody crowds around. He’s genuinely hurt. Which means I’m on his list. He stands up, and approaches me.

 

“No! I’m sorry! Please don’t hurt me!”

 

He gives me a nearly-turning-30 look, and sternly tells me to be more careful. I sigh, and decide to move on. To crack on with the game. To show how amazing I am. I chase the ball around, and get knackered. I slow down, but suddenly see the ball rolling towards me.

 

Now is my time!

 

I charge, and have it.

 

“Mohito!”

 

I smile, and await applause.

 

Silence.

 

I am not applauded. I stop smiling, and turn round. There’s someone on the floor. The other bloke running for the ball.

 

“Dan! Did you just smack your brother in the face?

 

“What?!”

 

I replay the moment.

 

Ah.

 

“Erm… yep.”

 

Oh no! He’s gonna completely batter me! Only he can’t even open his mouth because his jaw is so hurt. I apologise profusely, and decide to go into goal to save the other players’ faces, and also our team’s chances. The keeper runs out and I put on the gloves. This is it.I was born to wear gloves! And other clothes. I look out, and watch as their star striker runs towards me, and hoofs the ball.

 

At my hand.

 

“Ow!”


“Yes Dan! Skills mate!”

 

I am brilliant! And we start to pull it back. My hands, these fouling hands…. have found redemption! My reputation is saved, for I… am… the chosen one! The greatest!

 

I am lobbed.

 

Oh.

 

“What was that, Dan? You’re rubbish in goal!”

 

Oh.

 

I get kicked out of goal, and play rubbishly for the rest of the game, before sitting down by the bags. My Brother comes over.

 

“You alright, Dan?”

 

“Yeah. How’s your face?”

 

“Not as big as yours.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Silence. I break it. Like I break everything. Through too much mass. Mostly in my face.

 

“D’you think I’m rubbish at football?”

 

“Well. Let’s think. You handballed it. You handballed my face. Then you made some saves in goal before letting in a whole load more.”

 

“Erm. Yep.”

 

“Nah. You’re not rubbish.”

 

“No?”

“Nah. You’re quite… handy.”

 

I smile, and try to rub his face better.

 

He pushes me away.

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