Safe to say that I am very much a sports fan. The main sport I watch and (used to) play is football. I’ve been a Liverpool fan since I can remember and a season ticket holder for four or five years. I always like going to games because I like seeing how the team functions without the ball which is stuff you don’t see on TV. I once queued 8 hours for tickets for a match and I’ve been as far as Athens on a day trip to watch the 2007 Champions League Final.
Through school and college I was a goalkeeper, mainly because I saved a penalty from the best player at school once! I then became a winger and, when my first Sunday League team wasn’t very good, I became a central midfield enforcer! (Yeah, me!) I’ve always felt more at home on the sides of a pitch and spent the last four years as a full back. I played a few games in my favourite position as a winger, which I enjoy because while I’m not the best player technically there were very few who would beat my work rate. The end, for the moment, was signalled when my back stopped me from working as hard as I wanted and it was depressing both waking up the next day not being able to walk properly as well as my brain knowing full well what to do on the pitch with my body not being able to keep up.
It’s an expensive game as a fan but, as a player, a kid just needs a ball and some space and they’re away to getting better.
At school I played cricket as a bowler and number 11 batsmen. With batting, I feel now that I needed to get hit on the pads so I knew how much it hurt, or didn’t, and that would have given me a bit more freedom to play properly. I once played for my cousin’s team as a 14 year old and strode in to bat last. I remember facing up to a mid-30s-probably fast bowler. As a last man, they just want to get you out as soon as possible and there’s no messing around. The first ball came down and it missed me and my wicket rather than the other way round. So did the second, but sadly the third got me out. I walked back to the pavilion and my cousin asked why I hadn’t hit the ball that got me out. My simple reply was that I hadn’t seen it!
I played tennis for a while and still love it, but it’s such an elitist sport in the UK that I began not being able to afford it. I was an archer for over 10 years and ran my own club for much of that. I was good as a junior (I was once on the leader board at the National Champs and joke that my form went downhill when the guy next to me, shooting sharp pointy objects, told me was a haemophiliac! My team also beat the mixed team British head-to-head record score, but it wasn’t a record status competition sadly.) but reached a time where I wasn’t progressing. I ran the club’s beginners’ courses for years and really enjoyed that, but after uni I couldn’t dedicate the time to managing the club so someone else took it over. It became a bit of a strange place to be for one reason or another so I didn’t rejoin a few years ago. I still have all the kit but archery is a sport of kids and older people so I’ll only start again if I can find the right club.
The final sport I like is motorsport, although mainly F1 and it’s junior formulas. I love the look of the cars and the technology behind them, such as how adding one extra slot a few centimetres in length in the car floor can fundamentally alter performance. I think karting is one sport that I’m actually better than my friends at. We only go when we get Groupons for 50 laps running but I never get overtaken and seem to do plenty of my own.
I miss a few things about not be as active as I like at the moment, even if getting back to fitness will hopefully be as fulfilling as participating properly. I miss winning, whether that be watching my team win or achieving a new PB, and I miss not having team mates. To me, there feels more in the achievement when it is shared somehow.
It’s the eye of the tiger,
It’s the thrill of the fight –
Rising up to the challenge of our rival.
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger.
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
(The header image is me at the top of a hill in the middle of a cycle ride).