Imagine it’s a Sunday morning and thousands of people throughout Ireland are getting ready to adorn their club jersey (and sometimes even matching socks and shorts too!) all for the chance at glory. Some have very sore heads from the previous nights hijinks, other elder statesmen have been stretching since 7.30 AM for an 11 AM kick off and referees are doing their best Robert DeNiro Taxi-man impression in the mirror.
“You talking to me?” he said
“Yeah I am, how do you know that was offside and you were down at the other box” the ref also says ….to himself in the mirror.
Like a cowboy in a dual, the wannabe Pierre Luigi Collina quick draws a red card and stands triumphantly. In his head he is a matador presenting the color red to a bull, yet he stands majestically after avoiding further onslaught. Now he is ready to get into his Opel Corsa in full ref gear and drive to a glorified field in the back-arse of nowhere. Glorious.
Here he will meet folks with the latest hair styles and boots fashioned after footballs greatest stars. Only I doubt the likes of Ronaldo and Messi have to clear the pitch of sheep before kick off. Of course with shooing the sheep, comes the mess the sheep have left behind. There is nothing like going up to head the ball and realize it’s been covered in sheep dung, the same dung you have been sliding around in for hours. Therefore if you connect with this header you will be covered literally from head to toe, in sheep shi….. well you get the drift.
You certainly can’t back down from that header for fear of the GAA lads who came back to play in the hurling off season. Places on the team become quite limited then, and giving up your Saturday nights for the opportunity to be on the bench does not sound too promising. Every header must be contested, every tackle crunching, every pass precise as now you are up against the undoubtedly fitter GAA heads. To be honest your kinda glad for it in a way as they are very much part of the team…..and it helps they can run for hours. You see 37 year old Sheamy while still technically proficient, has bad knees and struggled to shake off the pregnancy weight he gained when his missus had the twins.
I’m probably not painting Sunday league in the best of light, but I am trying to give an insight into what some of us glory hunters seekout every weekend. It’s sports at it’s purest human form, flaws and all. Where passion, love, hate, desire, need and want, all combine into a world where players have to bring bog roll just incase they have to go to the bathroom in a farmers field.
Some of the best and most proud moments of my life have not just come from victory, but from just being involved with my club. People all striving for one common goal. I’ll never forget the year Castlewarren Celtic managed to win the Third Division League and Cup, but I’ll also never forget when our u-16’s took to the pitch for the very first time. I’ll always remember with a smile that winter training infront of car lights because it was dark out or the time our match got called off while we were halfway to Cavan. It’s not just the glory we miss, we miss our friends, we miss that bond, we miss our club.
It seems like an age ago since we lined the pitch, put on our boots and ran thru brick walls . The crest weighs heavily on the heart, even when the jersey is locked away in a bag at the gaffers house…..please God he has them washed after the last match with those sheep.