Pride of place on our Isaac’s bedroom shelf stands a golden trophy with the words ‘Talent Competition Winner’ engraved on its plinth.
Of all the medals, certificates and trophies that now adorn our youngest’s bedroom walls, this is my favourite.
It’s my favourite because it was his first ever trophy. It’s my favourite because his mother had it made for him.
From an early age, our Isaac, 12, suffered from the common problem that afflicts many young children … a painfully successful older brother! Big bro Bradley has a particular talent for sports which resulted in his room not so much being a bedroom, but a trophy cabinet with a bed in it.
Every other week it seemed he would return home with a wheelbarrow full of medals and trophies. Poor Isaac watched him traipse up the stairs every week groaning under the weight of his sporting haul.
While Bradley had been football daft from a very young age, our Isaac had very little interest. Give Bradley a football and he’d boot it back and forth in the garden for hours on end. Give Isaac the same ball and he’d use it as the surface of a tiny planet on which his plastic dinosaurs could wage war.
Great fun yes, but there are no trophies to be had for plastic dinosaur battling, as his bedroom shelf clearly revealed. It was home to robots, stuffed toys and a scary collection of dead scorpions and beetles pinned to a board (don’t ask!).
To cut a long story short, my wife decided to stop the rot and take it upon herself to buy him a trophy ready to present when he did something out of the ordinary.
Which, after some time, he duly did at the school fair, when he clambered on stage to sing a song. His rendition of Take That’s Rule the World was never going have Gary Barlow quaking in his boots, but it melted his mum’s heart and bagged him the trophy.
It was not to be his last. He quickly developed an interest in sport and, as is the way of modern life, there is no shortage of plastic figurines and tin medals to be had for just taking part in almost any activity (though I’m still waiting to that plastic dinosaur battling challenge cup).
It also helps to have your dad run the local football team, which I did and ensured, come hell or high water, he would get a genuine trophy to put on his shelf.
I mention this story only because junior football presentation season is upon us once again and it’s an excuse to trot out my collection of football coaches quotes about their young charges … and what they really mean.
l “He wears his heart on his sleeve” – he’s a cry baby.
l“A real character” – will be no stranger to the police when he turns 16.
l“Never complains” – unlike his parents.
l“Not afraid to shoot” – the little bleeder never passes.
l“The joker in the pack” – a walking advert for the return of corporal punishment
l“Not afraid to put his foot in where it hurts” – borderline psychopath
l “Fantastic attitude” – terrible footballer.