Long suffering readers of this blog will be quite familiar with my unease with football. It's not just that portion of the fans who we'd all happily export to the nether regions of the worlds more, (make that most), inhospitable regions. Nor is it just the obnoxious, overpaid footballers whose idea of a good night out seems to be getting some hapless impressionable teenage girls drunk for them then to use as they please. Nor, is it the broad destruction of Corinthian values in sport........ it's the bloody game itself.
Where I grew up, in the far reaches of Scotland, the preferred game for virtually all boys was a choice between football and football. To say I had two left feet would be unfair on people with two left feet. I couldn't play the wretched game to save myself. When all the kids lined up and were picked one by one by the two skippers I was always the one at the end left standing with the fat wheezy kid with asthma......... only the fat wheezy kid with asthma was always chosen first.
"Right............... ehhhmmmm... look, go and join defence and do clearances, you can do those.."
"What about the dribbling passing thingy.. can I do that?"
"Errrr, no, just stick to clearances and you'll be fine."
What that meant, loosely interpreted, was, "Look, don't fvck around. If the ball comes near you just wellie it and don't be clever because if you muck up the boys will be after you after the game." Marvellous.... cherish the schooldays.
Invariably, what then happened would be some showy offy, dribbly, bouncy, heady, back heel tosser would head toward me, circle me three times before dodging to the right and scoring in the top corner. Clearances my arrse....... I was rubbish and there was no possible redemption. I knew it, we all knew it but it was one of those things you just had to get on with.
One lad though, in amongst all the humiliation, always had a kind word of encouragement and an easy forgiving smile. Funny old world, he was the best footballer around and amongst other teams, subsequently played for Liverpool, (I like to think that the keen opposition he played against in his early years helped to mould him).
Kevin MacDonald is currently the caretaker manager for Aston Villa. I read in the paper that they took a bit of a hammering on Saturday. I can't comment on that but what I can say is that I wish Kevin the best of luck; truely, one of the more decent people I have met on life's journey.