I have a few early memories as a kid. One was of a Christmas when I was about 3 years old where I can remember unwrapping presents. I can remember sitting next to Jamie Bills on my first day of school as well as remembering other things from school such as an exam, watching frog spawn hatch and the itchy sack I had to wear for out nativity play.
I remember that I wasn’t much in to football for a long time, but one lunch time when I was in junior school I decided to play on the paving slabbed play ground. Somehow my team gave away a penalty which the aforementioned Jamie took, and I saved it. He was the best player at school.
From that point on, I was a goalkeeper. I played at under-14, under-16 and under-18 level. A few people tried to take my place in the team but they only stuck at under-18s when I finished my second season in the B-team rather than A. In one of the younger age groups, I remember going to check who was in the team on the noticeboard outside the staff room at school.
I wasn’t on the team sheet for the next two games. Like, not at all. The PE teacher saw me and explained that he wanted to give someone else a chance. Off they went to the first game, and I stayed in double History with Mrs Le Caplain for the first time that year.
I remember my brother coming home and telling me that it was a disaster. I got in to school the next day and a few people were telling me that I’d be playing the next game, which was later confirmed by the PE teacher. The guy who took over from me hadn’t had the best game in any way and apparently wasn’t great positionally, going on a wander fairly often.
The second time someone tried to take my place was when I couldn’t play one week. He let in a hat full of goals and the difference between he and I was that he was probably a better shot stopper, but I tried to stop the shots coming in in the first place. (Not that I was a bad shot stopper – I was once applauded back on to the team bus after a game against Mostyn House because of one save that obviously looked better than I felt it was at the time!)
The reason I say about my place in the team is, without wishing to blow my own trumpet, that my advantage over the other keepers was that I was probably a bit cleverer football wise. I maybe had a better sense of what was happening in the game and how play was developing so that I could deal with problems before they happened and perhaps make better decisions about how to do that.
Since school I’ve played in one team competitively and played with friends away from that team. Playing for Crossens in an organised league, I was again able to use my head because I was far from the best player so I had to try to make the game easier for myself.
The hardest games I played though, were either in training or with my friends, and I think I know why. I only ever played competitively on officially sized pitches with the correct number of people. Where I struggle is on, for example, a 7 a side pitch with 20 people on it, or a 5 a side pitch with only 3 people per team.
I was thinking about this the other night I was driving home from playing, and how it might reflect my attitude to chaos. I’ve played football for nearly 25 years and I kind of pride myself on being able to think my way through games and understand what to do, and yet somehow I seem to lack the ability to transfer those skills towards something that doesn’t make sense.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a disaster! I can still pass and shoot and tackle, I just can’t organise things the way I like because I can’t see the patterns that I’m used to. Things are just that little bit harder, but I’m not sure that it should be.
I’m wondering if anyone else might have some scenarios where all the skills are the same and you’re good at them, but you can’t quite take them over to somewhere else. How do you deal with chaos?