Touchline dads

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A winter’s day, a darkening sky. Warned

by the ref midway through the first half

for over-enthusiastic touchline coaching:

I don’t know what you’re on, but I want some of it.


Those games meant more to us dads than the boys.

We poured our hearts and souls into them.

My lad didn’t score that day, but he put quite

a few away. That feeling when your boy heads


a last-minute winner. You’re walking on air.

Back to this game. We beat our fierce rivals,

but that wasn’t the half of it. An ambulance

drove on to the pitch in the second to take


our striker to hospital. No bones broken,

thank goodness. Perfectly good goal

of ours got flagged offside by one of theirs.

Thought no more about it, until the final whistle.


As the sun went down he and our centre back’s

dad were in a ball on the centre circle,

fists flying. Ok, our lads were embarrassed.

But what a match! The pride and the passion.


That’s what I call a proper local derby.   


◄ Fine and Dandy

Christmas 2020 ►


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Jeff Dawson

Mon 28th Dec 2020 11:52

Brilliant mate, sounds about right!

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Greg Freeman

Sun 6th Dec 2020 10:11

Thanks for your memories, Stephen. I know football built up a huge bond between me and my son ... but with my daughter, too. I had tickets for Chelsea v Liverpool in the Cup in 97. My lad was too tired to go after his efforts in the morning, so she accompanied me instead. Chelsea won 4-2 after being 2-0 down at half-time - scorers Vialli 2, Hughes, and Zola - yes, that Chelsea, managed by Gullit. Of course, she was hooked after that, watching them in bars when she moved to Spain, and even travelling to Sevilla to see them in a Champions League game. Oh, football!

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Stephen Gospage

Sat 5th Dec 2020 16:59

Thank you, Greg. It brought back memories for me as well. My brother and I were involved in junior football in the 60s and, as Brian says, the players were usually fine (until one reached under-16 leagues, when they started getting a bit naughty).
I remember we played a match against the Bata Shoe Factory boys' team in Tilbury, Essex and our dad had to separate the Bata manager and one of our team's dads, a 6ft 3 fleet street printer. Dad was considerably shorter than that, but managed it.
Great days. Perhaps better than they seemed at the time!

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Greg Freeman

Sat 5th Dec 2020 10:17

Thanks for your thoughts, Brian and John. Brian, I was actually the assistant manager when I was admonished by the ref, so should have known better, but was caught up in the fever of the local derby. The scrimmage on the centre circle was a one-off - our dads were usually very supportive and well-behaved.

Our manager - sadly no longer with us - instilled a real code of sportsmanship and fair play into his team, which he managed from when our lad was seven, until he was 16. Back then they were allowed to play 11-a-side from the age of seven, and now I find myself worrying about all the headers my lad has made over the years. You shouldn't live through your kids, I know. But he was a much better player than I ever was, and the joy of seeing him score a goal is difficult to describe. His main position was centre back. Sounds like your daughter was cast in the same mould, John.

Thanks for the Like, Tony.

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John Coopey

Fri 4th Dec 2020 23:17

Brings back memories, Greg, of my daughter playing for Brayton Belles. She wasn't much cop with the ball but she was pretty good without it. A lot of more talented forwards who played against her left the field wondering why they hadn't played well.

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Brian Maryon

Fri 4th Dec 2020 22:11

I ran a boys team with my brother in law. The lads were easy, it was the parents who needed managing. They were allowed to say three things only...well done, hard luck and man on. I'm joking, but what we discouraged was coaching and instructions because otherwise we'd have had eleven forwards all going for glory and being the player their dads never were.

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