RICHARD ORD: On turning 50 and giving up becoming a professional footballer

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With age comes wisdom. Not for me. I checked my list of presents.

 A set of juggling balls, a box of chocolates and a magnifying glass.

 What that says about turning 50, I’m not too sure.

 That wasn’t the sum total of my presents. Those were the gifts from my two boys. Everyone else got me money.

I guess giving money is easier.

 What do you get a man turning 50? “Just give him cash, he can choose his own cardigan.”

 For the record, I didn’t put the money towards a comfortable cardigan or a hip replacement. I bought a watch.

 As a man with one eye on the future (a bloodshot eye with poor middle distance focus, granted, but an eye nevertheless), I enquired about an Apple Watch.

 At more than £300 it wasn’t cheap, but hey, if I’m to keep up with the kids, it may be a sound investment.

 Turns out my mobile phone isn’t compatible with the Apple Watch. According to the shop assistant, if I did buy it, all the watch would be good for “would be for telling the time.”

 Crikey. What sort of watch would that be?

 I ended up buying a normal wristwatch. Compatible with any phone.

 My wife urged me splash out on the timepiece. “Don’t be put off the price. Even if it costs £200, it’d be worth it,” she said. “You’ll be wearing it for the rest of your life. While £200 is a lot of money, it doesn’t sound so much when you think of it as £20 a year.”

Does she know something I don’t? She’d given me 10 years.

 To be fair, if my legs are anything to go by, she’s been generous.

 My last act of my forties was to play five-a-side football. I almost didn’t make it to 50.

 Like all ageing buffoons I still believe I have what it takes to compete at the highest level.

 My wife has spent the last 10 years urging me to pack in playing football. And every time I tell her that there’s still a chance I could make it.  

“Stanley Matthews played until he was 50,” I’d say. The day of reckoning had 
come.

 At 49 and 364 days, it was my last chance to shine. For the record, I scored two goals (one left foot, one right, since you ask) but goddammit, there were no scouts there.  

 Which is a pity, because both the cubs and boy scouts know first aid and I was in need of some kind of medical intervention.

 There is much talk of this new sport of Walking Football. A great idea, but I have found it particularly annoying when they suggest it is a game for the over 50s. Over 60s, surely? Given the state of my creaking body the day after five-a-side, I was checking the ads to find out if they did Crawling Football.

 Forget feeling like I’d gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. It was more like one round with 12 Mike Tysons. Armed with sticks. And a couple of dogs.

 Perhaps the presents my boys got me are perfect. The wise 50-year-old eats chocolate and sticks to juggling balls.

 The magnifying glass I can use to scour the small adds. Someone somewhere must be setting up a Hobbling Football league. Count me in...