Simply gorgeous

The amount of control and skill exhibited there, not only by the goal scorer, but the three previous players who touched the ball, is truly remarkable. It still wasn’t enough to beat Real Madrid, but it does justify the description of the sport as “the beautiful game”.

My last season started pretty well. I practiced indoor over the winter with Ender’s loan team, and although I did pick up a minor ankle sprain when getting them almost literally broken by the shifty center-mid, I did have one shining moment of Messi-like glory when I managed to dribble past three opposing players before scoring. It was enough to provoke a respectful “whoah” from the young guys; I didn’t bother to tell them it was one of the first times in 30 years that I’ve managed to beat three players in succession without relying on speed.

Of course, the kids show no proper respect for their elders these days. After I was floored by virtue of blocking an attempted cross with my face, instead of rushing to my aid, my obviously concerned son shouted “you break it, you bought it” at the guilty party.

I started most of the games this season, but almost all of them on the wing rather than in attack. We didn’t have a particularly good season, as we finished last in a group that we probably could have won if we hadn’t given away three games to injury, one of which was mine. A number of the younger guys have replaced the old guard, and but we still don’t have a proper replacement for our oft-injured center-mid, and without him we just don’t generate very many good opportunities for the attackers.

But we have a new captain next year, and he’s a bit more of a tactician than his predecessor, so it will be interesting to see what he does and how he shuffles the players around. I’ve played up front with him before, so I’ll be curious to see if he puts me back on the attack or relegates me to the bench in favor of one of the younger guys on the wing. Either way, it’s fine. Given my age, I prefer to play 40 to 60 minutes per game rather than the whole 90 minutes.

Ender’s season was difficult, as he spent most of it coming off the bench and playing on the field instead of in goal for a team that lost all of its games except the last two. But his season ended very well indeed, as he played the final game in goal, held the opponents to two goals, stopped two one-on-zeros (picking up a yellow in the process) and came up with a last-minute kick-save to preserve a 3-2 upset. He’s also very happy to be returning to our club next season; our second team needs a backup goalie since the first-team goalie is moving up to join the vets, so they asked for his return from the loan team.

I’m always sad to see another season end, but these days I’m also relieved to reach one without any serious injuries. This summer, my goal is to cut another 7 pounds, stretch every day, and do speed drills once a week. I’ll need to do all that just to keep up now that we have guys who are 17 years younger joining the team this fall.