Last week I was approached to help out an oldies soccer team that were short a few players. The team is run by a lady named Mel who played in our indoor team some years back. As far as I can tell its a regular men's league, but Mel is such a strong player that she prefers to play in men's teams.
Anyway, she asked Cam and I to pull the boots on and give it a go, so we did. Elf was away for a few days on a work junket, so I had to take the kids with me. I packed a variety of amusements and a folding table and chairs - I thought they would have to sit out in the open for the duration. As it happens the ground where we play has been developed a little in the 14 years since I last played (!) and there is now a nice upstairs bar/function room where the kids were able to play, read, occasionally watch the game, and eat the dinner we grabbed at Maccas on the way.
I started on the bench, and came on after about 5 minutes to play in midfield. It was completely different to indoor soccer, but it gradually came back to me what to do. I am a bit of a shouter when I play, I can't help it, and after half an hour or so I was shouting a fair bit. I shout encouragement mostly, but also to let a team-mate know I want the ball, and to call someone back to mark a man - all that sort of stuff.
Our left-back was a vaguely familiar white-haired gent. At one point I asked him if he was marking a particular opponent. He said he wasn't sure, which was honest at least. I said I'd mark him, and sent the left-back to guard the sideline. I happened to see him again this evening at Little Athletics, when I finally realised that I had been shouting at our brand new Lord Mayor.
It was funny to be dealing with grass and wind and open space again. You have to kick the ball a lot harder, and the margin for error is so much greater. A few of my little indoor kicks and sneaky shuffles conspicuously failed last night.
I ran up to check on the boys at half-time. They had watched quite a bit of the match, and done some nice drawings etc. However Michael had tried to climb on the upstairs railing and had to be sternly spoken to by some of the old club stalwarts to get down. I was a little late running out for the 2nd half as I laid down the law.
I was a little crampy by the end but felt OK. The intensity of 11-a-side is way lower than 4-a-side indoor, and for the second half I played at centre-back, which is the most stationary position. I got in a few good tackles and some solid headers, made a few good passes and generally felt like I fit in OK. We lost 3-2. I'm looking forward to next Tuesday now.
Best of all, I didn't get hurt, as the indoor Grand Final is on Friday night.