They say you have to be a bit daft to be a goalkeeper. A bit? You have to be well-and-truly crazy!
Prerequisites of course are fabulous agility, a good eye, a commanding presence, great stature, fearlessness, a ruthless determination to get to that ball first, and the ability to point and shout...at anyone and everyone.
Saturday in Lancashire provided much mirth and merriment. It was a dull day, drizzle was in the air, and there was a choice of five matches to take in at this local authority ground.
Due to the drizzle and the presence of a buttie van, most had opted for the game nearest the changing rooms. It was a cup semi-final, in the supplementary competition, in other words it was for teams who had already been knocked out of the main competition.
The line-ups possibly revealed why both teams found themselves in the back-up tournament.
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The goalkeeper for the home side was the shortest chap in the team. He looked like a grizzled, well-travelled, hard-as-nails right back, steely, tough-tackling, a sort of “ball-and-man” player, who had put many a ball AND tricky winger over the advertising boards.
Today he was in goal, but at 5ft 6in, he couldn’t touch the crossbar. The away goalkeeper clearly had a height advantage, being 5ft 7in. Again, he was diminutive in stature when compared with his colleagues.
And they were both wearing glasses. Occasionally players wear sports glasses, designed to be safe for themselves and opponents. But these looked like Specsavers’ finest.
No matter, off we went. The obligatory pointing and shouting started immediately, the home goalie complaining that their striker some 80 yards away was never offside, despite starting his run 12 yards beyond the last defender.
Those glasses must be excellent.
When there was “a bit of a do” in the 12th minute, with 12 players pushing and shoving each other near the halfway line, both keepers set off from their penalty areas and steamed in.
Despite not having started the affray, their respective 50 yard sprints resulted in both being sent off. Crazy? Absolutely. But not unexpected.
Over on the coast on Sunday afternoon, around 90 spectators enjoyed a tremendous 4-4 draw. The game involved two teams of Under -12s, playing 9-a-side.
Playing 9 v 9 is part of the FA’s oft-maligned development plan, but these two teams put on a feast of sharp, crisp, passing football that they clearly enjoyed, as did the army of parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, siblings and others who had turned up to watch.
The most pleasing aspect of the game was the encouragement given to players on both sides from all those looking on. Good play was applauded by supporters of both sides, errors were greeted with sympathetic groans from one and all.
It made a very refreshing change indeed.