It has been a large number of years since I’ve seen a Saturday that was more relaxing than the following Sunday for such an avid sports fan. Probably not since end of season dinner in 2009 when an overly zealous night of consumption meant I couldn’t get out of bed all Sunday, thus rendering it more relaxing by default. The toilet disagreed on that day but a hangover in a pre-streaming era was necessarily simplistic. Radio on, if you could reach to tune it, and a good book would be one’s only tools to abate one’s suffering. Certainly, you struggled to get taken into a sporting event.
Cricketing pedants (Greenbank, I’m looking at you) might point to the two Sundays that Ben Stokes held the focus of the entire cricketing world last year. However they don’t count to me. I missed the first because everyone had seemingly forgotten to tell me that the F1 at Silverstone wasn’t the only sport on that day; yes, I even escaped the Wimbledon final. The tree in the forest fell and alas I missed it, so everyone must have done. I missed the second Sunday because Sky Sports had recently moved to a paler shade of blue for their bordering graphics and I was on a boycott. They don’t seem to have noticed.
The last Sunday that truly meets the criteria was the conclusion to Greece’s Euro 2004 with that nail-biting 1-0. With the whole world waiting for the coming summer Olympics, Saturday was only taken up by the Women’s Singles final between Sharapova and S. Williams. It might have been a great upset, but 6-1, 6-4 is hardly exciting.
I tuned into the football this Sunday (boycott cancelled) to watch two of the most abject displays of defensive play this year. Liverpool vs Aston Villa, Manchester United vs Tottenham and Hawks 2s vs Amersham & Chalfont, the anonymous player who stole the number 15 shirt in March and anytime Grant Schapps appears on TV now make the top five – please don’t ask me to put them in an order.
There is a certain satisfaction to seeing top teams drastically failing in the face of mere competence; not that the M2s can be lifted to either description. The only time I can remember a footballing equivalent of either game was Brazil 1-7 Germany in 2014. These were sweeter though, perhaps because of my now deep understanding of the emotions going through the minds of the losing backroom staff.
The rain on Saturday had also forced the T20 finals day onto the Sunday, and then into late evening. Cold yes, but the contests provided a great backdrop to the carnage occurring elsewhere. That rain also threatened to turn the M2s fixture against South Berkshire into a thoroughly unpleasant experience. I was safe, isolating as I am post vacation, but I’d had to advise Dunners to bring as many umbrellas as he could find.
The team were sent clear instructions. Meet time, meet place, tactics, line ups, the lot. They were also to send me a succinct report on the game so that it could be added here. That travesty last week will not be repeated so this is the best solution for now.
“The team arrived promptly at the pitch. They had all looked online and not been fooled by the potential banana skin of two leisure centres sharing a postcode and a ******* fence yet having entrances two miles drive apart. Spirits were high, for the expected deluge had parted. Instead, the lads were met with 3 hours of sunlight on a brisk October afternoon. Six goals were scored, three of them by Dan Andrews, two by JLS and one by Henry Taylor. None were conceded.”
When I asked for a report, I neglected to mention that I wanted the truth. Here is a list of the bits I doubted:
- “******* fence”.
- I haven’t seen the sun in 2 weeks.
- Six goals – it says five on the league website.
- No goals conceded?
- A goal scored by Henry Taylor.
Regardless of the validity of the above, the pleasant weather and stress-free communication of a single message at full time meant I got to really enjoy my isolated Chablis. The news of the clean sheet (and subsequent confirmation) kept me in quiet content all evening. It’s been too long.
Perhaps we will get a more honest summary next week when the M2s welcome Eastcote up at BRN.