He Shoots, We Score!

With the footie season kicking off proper once again, Molly’s blogger Desperate Dad reflects on how the beautiful game continues to completely enthral his eldest… ‘Can we play football daddy?’ is all I hear at weekends these days. Something very strange happened to my nearly nine-year- old a few summers ago and since the end of the World Cup in 2014 – he has become totally infatuated with our national pastime.

It started after an impulse purchase of the tournament’s Panini sticker album and has resulted in undying allegiance to his local football league team and almost impossible separation from any
soccer related clothing. I was 13 when I got into football. The 1990 FA Cup Final – Crystal
Palace v Man Utd. The 3-3 thriller (and don’t mention the replay apart from the goal). 
This was closely followed by Italia ’90. England’s finest World Cup hour post ’66 and a heady summer of late evenings and grazed knees for me.

I was no teenage prodigy. No scouts were clocking me on the touchline. Sure I could kick a ball and was aware of the offside rule but had no raw talent. My lad’s had a junior season ticket and been able to bend it like Beckham since he was about six. It’s really quite amazing how far he’s come in just a few years. From fledgling junior footie sessions on Saturday morning, through to player development with the local youth team and Sunday matches with a village team – it’s exhausting just thinking about it.

I am not sure how this happened? Can it really stem from watchingEngland’s below par performances at the last World Cup?

In any case I admit that I am not disappointed. I think most dads harbour a deep desire that their sons will one day emerge as soccer sensations. And the first time we attended a ‘proper’ football match as paying customers on the terraces was a near religious experience for us both.
But here’s the thing. It wasn’t an England friendly at Wembley or a Premier League tie
we’d travelled miles to watch. It was Lincoln City v Bristol Rovers at Sincil Bank on Saturday 13 September 2014 back when they were a lowly non-league side.

The attendance was 2,933 with the home side going down 2-3 after a goal in the very last minute.
But it’s a day that will forever be etched in my memory. A day when my son celebrated his new found love of football at his small, struggling local club with a hotdog and a grin the size of Neymar’s bank balance.
His intense focus on the game and joy at seeing his team score right in front of him confirmed there and then that this was no passing phase.
To be honest, I wouldn’t really have minded if it turned out he didn’t like football at all. But hearing, ‘can we play football daddy?’ each Saturday morning scores my spirits higher than any Chris Waddle penalty vs West Germany could ever soar – every time.