21 April 2011

No More Soccer For Me (Part 2)

"So what goals did I achieve? well to you, dear reader, they are probably not that special...to me they are akin to scoring a winning goal in an FA Cup final!"

In my previous blog I described the event leading up to me retiring from playing my favourite sport - Football, or soccer as it is also known as.

I mentioned in it that I had achieved all the goals that I set out to do. I even scored a few goals too. Not bad for a defender who occasionally played in midfield!!

So what goals did I achieve? well to you, dear reader, they are probably not that special. However, to me they are akin to scoring the winning goal in an FA Cup final! So here goes...

Winning trophies - I have won a number of 5 a side and indoor football trophies. Interestingly, in a work mixed football team we decided to put one of our female players in goal (she actually volunteered). That meant we had more males in the outfield. Consequently we never lost a game and were champs three years running. No other team tried to copy us which surprised me.

In the long form of the game I have won two league titles, achieved a couple of promotions, been runners up in a cup competition and only once felt the pain of relegation. One of the league titles was won in England and one in Sydney, Australia. When the English one was won my team played 32 games won 28 drew 2 and lost 2, scoring 103 goals and conceding just 32. Actually we went something like 7 games without conceding a goal which was extremely rare in the Sunday Leagues I played in.

The Australian one was more impressive. We played 18 won 17 and lost 1. It was our second game of the season and we lost 1-0 to a dodgy penalty, if my memory serves me correct. After that game we were unstoppable. Interestingly, the reason for our success in winning both titles was down to teamwork rather than any individual ability.

I had two personal goals that I always wanted to achieve. One was to become player of the year, and the other was to score a goal direct from a corner. I finally was elected player of the year for my Australian football team in what was, at the time, their most successful season ever. I knew I had played well, but to win this award, as voted by my co-players, meant so much to me. I only won it once but came close on a few other occasions.

I had always wanted to score a goal from a corner when I saw my best friend Andy do it twice in a minute in a school game. Andy was a skillful midfielder who could do the unusual. Me? I was the more industrious type of player. Well it took me more than 20 years to score direct from a corner. I have to admit that on occasions I had tried to do this but when the right game came along I knew I would score it! I took the corner and saw it sail over the goalkeepers head. I muttered under my breath "don't catch it!" and fortunately for me he didn't!!

One of the strangest events happened in England when I was a teenager. I dreamt that I would score a goal in the morning. In my dream a good friend of mine was going to play in goal. The game started and we were 2-1 down. I anticipated a back pass and got the ball and put it through the legs of the goalie, my friend! I was ecstatic. It was also my birthday that day as well!!

I have scored a few goals too. Probably my best one was a bullet header in a game in England. For once I connected well with it! My most important goal was another header in a cup tournament that knocked out a team 3 divisions higher than my team.

I have also had the pleasure to play against a few ex-professional players and at least 2 ex-international players too. I feel that I held my own against them quite well. Mind you, in their heyday some of these opponents would have been very good players!

So there you have my most self indulgent blog ever! For me its therapeutic as I close the door on my long football career and move on to the next big thing. I hope you enjoyed learning a little about myself as well.

13 April 2011

No More Soccer For Me (Part1)

“a doctor who easily assessed that I had ruptured my Achilles Tendon. I asked her how it would be fixed. She answered with two dreaded words - "by operation"

Last weekend was a watershed one for me. Even though I had no idea at the time, the soccer game that I played in would be the last of my illustrious career. Well, illustrious is probably a strong word to use for my deft skills. After all, I didn't play for England, never turned out for my beloved Manchester City or have driven a Lamborghini donated by a sponsor. Indeed my only transfer fee was 2.50 pounds from Dewdrop to Scorpions (and I paid that too!).

However, despite this, in my own micro soccer world, I did achieve all the goals (excuse the pun) I set out to do when I was a youngster. Before I expand on that I should give a brief description of what happened at approximately 1.30pm on Saturday 9th April.

The game started well for my team. We were 1-0 up early in the game and were starting to look good. I was also happy with my performance after the previous weeks 'mare that I had. Anyway, after about 30 minutes of the game the ball went over my head. Naturally, I chased it down and went to kick it up field when I felt as if someone had kicked me in the back of my right leg. There was an opposing player closing me down, and whether he caught me or not I am not sure.

I felt severe pain go from the base of my Achilles in my right leg up to about the mid calf region. I was writhing about on the grass less and bumpy pitch. Fortunately the coach and a couple of reserve players helped me off the pitch. At this stage I thought I was going to pass out. It was a close run thing. After a few moments I sat on the grass in the shade and looked at the "injury". I couldn't see any lumps so I assumed (wrongly as it turned out) that it was muscular.

I then put some ice in a bag and tied it to the back of my right leg in the Achilles region and undertook RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). After a while, and a team photograph, I drove home in pain to rest my injury.

It was on Sunday morning that I realised something was wrong. No Worries, aka the wife, drove me to a doctor who easily assessed that I had ruptured my Achilles Tendon. I asked her how it would be fixed. She answered with two dreaded words - "by operation"! Next step was to the hospital to get it better assessed.

I was in the hospital for approximately 6 hours. There were a fair few sports injuries in the Emergency Ward, as well as a few Saturday night excesses. I was assessed by a nurse and a specialist and the prognosis was the same. I would need an operation to fix my Achilles. The good thing, I was told, was that it would only take 45 minutes and I would not need to do an overnight stay in the hospital. So I named it the 'slash and dash' operation.

That night No Worries and I went out to a local restaurant for dinner which I called "The Last Supper". I was now on crutches which helped me a little.

Monday was a bit of a blur in hindsight. It encompassed work, seeing the surgeon, paperwork, more paperwork and did I mention paperwork? Finally, it was time for me to be prepped for the operation. I was told to change into a hospital gown and then lie on a bed. The nurse then came and shaved most of the hair off my right leg and then put a brown substance all over it. A green cloth was then wrapped over my leg.

In this ward there were two other guys awaiting operations. One was having a pin put into his leg, and the other guy had done the same injury as myself. It was the same leg, same soccer competition and happened at roughly the same time.

I was to be the last cab off the rank from an operational point of view. I was eventually taken into an alcove to meet the anaesthetist. He was an Irish guy. He told me that he would inject me with a drug and I would be asleep in 20 seconds. I remember telling him "yeah right" and felt the pain in my arm with the injection as I said it. Before 20 seconds had passed I was in Dreamland!

I was woken up about 75 minutes later. I felt a bit groggy and could see a cast on my leg but no pain! Anaesthetics work really well. After half an hour or so I was taken to another recovery ward where my "twin" who had had the same operation was recovering.

We chat about the operation, even though we remembered nothing about the procedure.

After a can of lemonade our wives came and drove us home. I was relieved to be back home but knew, rather sombrely, that recovery was going to take a long time...