After nearly two years away from Saturday afternoon parks football, I have just made my ‘comeback’ in the West Sussex League – division three south to be precise, writes Will Sparrow.
I’d love to say it was reminiscent of Paul Scholes’ comeback for Manchester United, galvanising my team Ambassadors; however, it was more a case of me simply being pleased to get a game.
My pre-match build-up involved me rushing home after carrying out my usual Saturday morning coaching session to enjoy an energy-fuelled lunch – well the banana I had fitted into that category.
Arriving at a sunny Avisford Park in Bognor the butterflies began, but these eased as the changing-room banter began, with one team-mate being lambasted for his performance at training two days earlier.
Once the nets were up and the warm-up complete, a quick chat with my partner at centre-half followed and it was game time.
The match itself was cup tie against Fernhurst Reserves. Things didn’t start well with the assigned referee not making an appearance. After discussion with the opposition’s manager he stepped forward to ensure the game went ahead.
As expected it was a fairly frantic, chaotic cup tie on a questionable pitch with the odd random tuft of longer grass giving many a perfect excuse for an under-hit pass.
We had the game pretty much won by half-time with two goals, one a penalty and the second an excellent back-post header from an in-swinging corner.
An evenly-matched second half was played out with the visitors spurning the chance of a consolation when hitting the post from the penalty spot.
The questioning of decisions made by ‘their’ ref, and substitutes on both sides carrying out linesman duty, always did make me chuckle and did again, adding another dimension to the joy of Saturday-afternoon parks football.
Post-match, the only sign of a warmdown involved taking down the nets, then it was off home to wax lyrical to my family about my performance and enjoy a well-earned bath, beer and of course the final scores on TV. What a glorious way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Will Sparrow is writing for the Observer and chichester.co.uk throughtout the season about his experiences as a player and youth coach. Tweet him at @Sparrowwill83
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