Paul Scholes is Retiring Too

I’ve played in a Sunday league for about 6 years now. We had a good few seasons a couple of years back. We were unbeaten in two of them. That’s all hard to remember now though and we have barely won a game since forever.

It’s hard to play with a crap team but it’s even harder being the crappest player on a crap team. I can’t score goals any more and I can’t even beat my defender to put in a good cross. Getting old sucks and the defenders just keep getting younger and faster. I’m done after this season. I have no business playing with 20 year olds. I’ll go back to playing with the old men of Almaden Valley.

Paul Scholes is retiring too but he has less of an excuse as he is about 10 years younger than me and is still one of the best players in the Premier League.

I was going to put together a video of my football playing career but I don’t actually have any videos – and it wouldn’t be very good anyway if I did. Enjoy this retrospective of Paul Scholes, a player described by Zidane as the best midfielder of his generation, instead.

Avulsions a-go go!

I learned a new word yesterday. Avulsion.

When I was about 18, I had a series of episodes where I sprained my ankle very badly. The first time I was playing volleyball and I jumped for spike and I landed on the edge of a teammate’s foot and rolled my ankle over. My ankle swelled up like a bastard and turned imperial purple. I was sure it was broken.

They took me to the sick bay but the Dr said no break. Bad sprain. Bandage and rest for a couple of weeks.

The exact same thing happened four or five times in quick succession. I’m sure it’s broken. Xray says “not!” Rest and bandages.

Eventually I learned to cut out the middle man. “Think your ankle’s broken? Rest and bandages!”

I have had a several episodes likes this where I repeatedly sprain my ankle over a period of several months. I started wrapping my ankles when I played football and it stopped happening so much.

On Sunday, I played football with the old men. It was the first time I had played on grass- in cleats – for months and I kept mis-judging my kicks because of that weird extra half inch that studs give you. I scuffed a bunch of shots and stumbled a few times.

Late in the game, I found myself charging towards the goal with just two defenders to beat. It’s always fun to run at defenders with the ball. It’s extra fun when the defenders are aged 70 and up (!!) but this time the defender was Mark.

Mark is at least 10 years younger than me and a very good footballer. I decided I was gonna beat him.

At full sprint, I dragged the ball to my right and stepped over it for a Cruyff Turn. Mark beats me with that move at least once a game. I was about turn the tables when my stud caught the turf. The toe of my boot dug in to the ground and then the entire impact of my speeding 200lbs bent my ankle into a quite unnatural position.

I knew instantly that my game was done. They carried me off and gave me ice and a beer. I knew the drill for swollen and purple ankles. Rest and bandages! (and more beer!)

The next morning it still hurt like hell and the missus made me go for an xray. The doc told me all about avulsion fractures.

An avulsion is where the ligament tears away a little piece of bone. He said I had so many avulsions that it was hard to tell which was old and which was new.

“Does it hurt here?”
“aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggghhhhh!”
“That might be a new one.”

Turns out the treatment for an avulsion is the same as for a sprain – rest and bandages – but, this time the doc didn’t seem too optimistic about the prospects for my recovery. He kept repeating over and over how this is a very serious injury and  all the soft tissue is damaged and the chances of a full recovery are slim.

I might have to find a new way to injure myself on Sunday mornings.

Sad and Red

Dear Mr Ferguson,

I am very happy that the reds are back on top of the table despite the recent poor run of form. I am also delighted that we are in the semis of The Champions League.  The League Cup and World Club Cup and Charity Shield trophies were nice too.

manu logoBut I can’t tell you how sad the ignomious end to the FA Cup run made me.

I understand that you really, really want to win the Premiership and the Champions League. I get that. I do too.

And I understand that you need to rest players at the end of a long hard season. But still I am sad.

1976 FA Cup FinalThe FA Cup has a special place in my heart. For the 76 cup, I dressed up all of my cuddly toys in red – Bugs as a player and Uncle Ted as a fan – and put them in my window. I treasure the heartache of that defeat as much as the joy when we beat Liverpool in 77. I still remember looking forward to school so i could rub Gavin Mantel’s nose in  it.

And so, I think it was disrespectful to field a team of reserves in an FA Cup semi-final. At Wembley Stadium no less!

It was disrespectful to Wembley Stadium, to the oldest competition in Football and, especially, to my memories.

Could you not have played a decent playmaker? Scholes was fit. And Giggs. Even Nani or Carrick!

Why did you stay in the competition so long, only to throw it away in such an easy game against such weak opposition? It was just one more game! One goal and we would have been in the final! You may think 11 wins is enough, but I, for one, would have been overjoyed with one more.

Mr Ferguson, I am disappointed in you.

The Ragged Clown

Steven Gerrard, I Choose You.

Rob Smyth, in The Guardian, blames Lampard and Gerrard for compromising England’s one world-class attacking talent. Scientists claim that Consciousness is the hard problem, but the Lampard and Gerrard problem is hard too.

If we could find a decent goalkeeper and a striker who is over 5ft 2in who does not have clown feet, England would be marvellous. But we have to acknowledge that Lampard and Gerrard cannot play together, despite what Borat says.

I read of Frank Lampard that he cannot play with Gerrard. Why not? Is not allowed? Is against your law? In my country, is OK for two men to play with each other. We do all the time. Is nice.

Gotta drop Lampard and play the world’s greatest scouser behind the even greater scouser, Rooney.