My football playing days appear to have been brought to an abrupt end by the most unlikeliest of career ending phenomena … trampolines!
The indoor centre where I and a ragtag bunch of aging five-a-side diehards chase a ball about for an hour every Sunday is to be turned into a trampoline centre.
It seems like an apt way to end my playing days. Having been born within months of England winning the World Cup, it was always going to be downhill from there on in.
After more than 50 years of endeavour, this country has failed to match the Boys of 66. I like to think I played a part in that glorious failure, by dint of never being particularly good at footy.
My only claim to footballing fame is a spurious one. I believe I was the last person to score a goal at the Leazes End of St James’s Park, erm, wearing spectacles. You won’t find it in the record books.
I played there as part of a pal’s birthday celebrations and paid £100 for the privilege. But I’m sticking to my claim to fame.
Fortunately for my eldest boy, he did not inherit my footballing prowess. He’s quite good at it.
Which is why I was able to achieve one of my footballing goals – to play alongside my boy on our Sunday night five-a-side runarounds.
That particular goal was achieved this Sunday, although to say I played alongside my 16-year-old son is probably a stretch. I kind of watched alongside.
Given he is 35 years my junior, it’s fair to say he was doing all the running, playing and scoring.
Our team tactics were to give him the ball and sit back. Even that proved difficult. It was tiring just watching him. What did he make of it?
“You’re not ones for running are you?” he observed diplomatically. It’s an apt epitaph. I could have that carved on my gravestone. ‘Here lies the body of Richard Ord. He was never one for running.’
So that leaves one sporting goal to go. To play alongside both my boys in a team.
With the loss of our football pitches, I may have revise that. When I was our Isaac’s age, I was an avid reader of the sci-fi comic 2000AD. In that publication, it predicted that the national sport of the 2000s would be Aeroball, a game where the players flew about with jet-packs on their backs fighting their opponents.
It was a cross between basketball, boxing and GBH, with a ball thrown in the mix. In my mind’s eye it seemed like the natural successor to football. One day we’d all be flying around in jet-packs, beating the living daylights out of fellow Aeroballers.
Who’d have thought football would usurped by bouncing around?
Just as when I look out over the purpose built shopping centres and tell our boys: ‘I remember when all this was fields,’ I wonder if one day my boys may look wistfully out on their old stomping grounds and say: ‘I remember when all this was trampolines.’