Soccer season is finally over. We went to Launceston for the weekend, to see Marcus play for the Central Region again. Having lost the Hobart Cup to the Northern representative side, we were keen to see the boys do well and maybe pinch the Launceston Cup in return.
We drove up on Saturday morning, getting there about an hour before the first game. The tournament was on at Churchill Park by the river. It had been raining for a week beforehand, and I thought the grounds would be terrible but they were surprisingly good. The grassed areas around and between the grounds were saturated though - Michael spent a lot of his time paddling.
Saturday was warm and sunny, and watching the first game I was actually very pleased when I found some shade. Central's first game of four was against Northern - and based on previous results, it was essentially a decider. Marcus played again at right-back, and he was very involved right from the start. Every attack from the home team seemed to come down his side, and he was impassable. After soaking up ten minutes of pressure Central struck on the counterattack to go one up. The boys went wild. There is a lot of showboating in the Central U/10s and the goal celebrations are way over the top.
Shortly after there was a 2nd goal, and they went to the break up 2-0. Marcus was dominating, winning a lot of high balls with his head (you don't see that much in U/10s). He was anticipating and cutting off attacks, then holding and carrying the ball up confidently and passing constructively. More goals came, and by the end Central were up about 5-0. It was a great effort all over the park.
Unfortunately Marcus didn't see out the game. Ten minutes from time he went for a 50-50 ball and limped off in pain with a damaged ankle. It was an hour until the next game, and Atef the coach was insistent he would need Marcus, but Marcus wasn't able to put any weight on his leg at all. (Various people later said they thought he was best on ground)
We consulted the St John's ambulance ladies, who gave Marcus a bag of ice and said that he really needed an x-ray. So I piggybacked him to the car and the four of us went looking for the Launceston General. Emergency was not particularly busy, but we were still there a long time. The doctor who unwrapped the bandages winced when he saw the swelling though, but Marcus was cleared of damage and released. We sped back to Churchill Park to let the team know that he was OK, but sadly would not be playing any more that weekend. In his absence they had won a spiteful game against Western Schools 4-2. The Western U/10 coach is a real problem - I believe Central and Eastern Region have put in a joint complaint about his behaviour and his instructions to his team.
After a quick catchup with the team we went across to Joe and Jill's nearby for a cuppa. Their boy William is 5 now, and he and Michael had a whale of a time on the floor doing something with action figures and Lego. Their renovation is 95% finished - they actually have some insulated rooms now, which make a difference in a Launceston winter. We then farewelled them and went off to our billet for the night, with Lindy, Ellen and Tristan in Blackstone Heights. Tristan was delighted to have boys to bounce around with, but Ellen is now in full moody teen mode, and was on Facebook with headphones on for our entire visit.
The kids and Elf read and watched footy while Lindy cooked and I grilled her about everything going on up there. We went to high school and college together and have a lot of mutual friends around, so it was very good to be able to swap news about what they are all up to.
We had decided to stay and support the team rather than making an early departure for home. The first kickoff was at 9.00 so we had to bolt breakfast and get out of there. Sunday was a darker day with all sorts of weather predicted. Joe had lent us a folding chair for Marcus, so he joined the coaching panel on the halfway line while I did my usual stalking up and down the sideline. The goals were not long in coming, and Central had another good win, fortunately with no further injuries.
The last game was played in steadily worsening weather. It was blowing a gale so umbrellas were useless. We had disposable rain capes, which did a good job of keeping most of us dry. The sleeves are very short though, and I had that horrible uncomfortable wet-sleeve feeling until we got home to Hobart. The conditions were dreadful for soccer, and the boys looked very tired, but they won the last game 2-0. Sam scored the second with a header but was too tired to and wet to even celebrate it.
We had to return the chair to Joe, which gave us an excuse to bring our bags in, and change into every dry thing we had remaining. Then we had one more commitment before we left town: visiting Elf's father's old friend Jill Green. Jill was at our wedding but I hadn't seen her since, and I don't think she had met the boys. Her house in Riverside is amazing - she grew up in it. When she was a girl the West Tamar Highway that roars past her door was a dirt road.
Once we had a cuppa with Jill we hopped back in the car, pointed it south and cruised slowly and patiently home though the rain squalls.
Marcus is recovering now very well, and in fact has to be be reminded constantly to go easy on his ankle. It's a shame he missed so much of the tournament, but if he could only play 45 minutes of it, he was certainly there for the 45 minutes that counted.