Saturday, 15 September 2007

Sporting prowess

I’ve been reminded a few times in recent day about some of the more memorable moments from the sporting events of my youth.

First of all the exploits of TJ over at the road less travelled, reminded me of a rugby sevens competition between the halls of residence at St Andrews. The competition rules stated that anyone who was playing for the University first or second teams was ineligible. This seemed fair, and the rule was adopted consistently. We fielded a motley crew of moderately skilful players, some reasonably skilful but chronically unfit players and others whose enthusiasm compensated for their lack of knowledge (without being chauvinistic this last group could also be described as Americans!). In those days – it was a long time ago – I was considered to have a reasonable burst of pace (over a short distance), so in the first match I was given the task of marking the opposing team’s star player. The trouble was this guy was very good. He didn’t play for the University teams because he was too good. In fact, he was on the fringes of the Scottish international squad. That day re-defined my appreciation of pace. We were soundly trounced, and I only ever came within touching distance of my opponent when he trotted back after scoring (with annoying frequency) and threw the ball to me for the re-start.

The second reminder came the other night, when some friends told us about a trophy that their son was sharing with another boy – there were only 2 of them eligible for it. I only ever won one trophy in my sporting career – and it was shared with a team-mate. This time it was football. For one season I played for our hall of residence second team in the Sunday afternoon league. I know – football on a Sunday!! It’s an outrage and clearly contrary to many Biblical principles and I put my lack of success down to the sinful timing of the matches!
(Tongue out of cheek, he continues with the dull story …) I have always nurtured a sense of un-fairness about having to share the award. My goal was beyond doubt the best goal – a screaming left foot volley from the edge of the penalty box that flew straight into the ‘postage stamp’, leaving the goalkeeper rooted to the spot. It was – and I say this in all modesty – absolutely spectacular. However, in fairness to those who judged the awards it wasn’t strategically important as it made the score 5-0. By contrast, my colleague’s goal did tip the balance of a key game – and, in fact, proved to be the winning goal. By the way, did I mention that they were the own goals of the season?

Our prize wasn’t the golden boot, but a silver slipper – well we each received one silver ladies stiletto (from a pair rescued from a charity shop). Eventually – well two days later – the pair was reunited, by our cleaner who spotted the shoes in our separate rooms and asked if she could have them, since they fitted her. Neither of us had any reluctance to part with our trophy!

While I haven’t found fame and fortune in the sporting world, I think it’s fair to say that I fulfilled my potential, and but for one foolish venture form retirement (a game of rugby 10 years ago), I recognised when I had peaked at quit at the height of my prowess!

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