Monday, November 3, 2008

Losing at soccer to bennies

So today, I had a fantastic day - this opening paragraph of late has been quite a chore because I've felt kind of tired and a bit muntered, but today was good because I had a day off and no one was demanding a morning huddle or questioning my numbers or screwing up their face. Nope it was just me, some good tunes on the IPOD by mid 90s experimental Triple J bands before they disappeared up their own arse and made an album in a glass house, and of course, the joy of strolling around Kingston with the terminally unemployed. Now, I never mock the unemployed, because I had about, oh, five months of it - the knife selling cult, not being able to find Vodaphone on the Vodaphone internal directory during a simulated call centre exercise, part time gardening work, I did it all - but anyone haggling over the rental price of a copy of Failure To Launch at 10 in the morning in Video City could probably be doing with a job, that's all I'm saying. For my own part, spending several hours looking at DVDs just made me feel sad at the demise of the VHS tape that came in the gigantic chunky box and always had Brian Dennehy involved in one way or another. I had a personal obsession for a while with going into Mom and Pop video stores in about 1993, the ones that were clearly struggling to compete with the new blockbuster chains, and couldn't order new stock so their new releases were Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot or Weekend At Bernies 2...good times I thought, just as I dipped my bendy straw (bendy straw represent y'all) into my can of Fanta and put Melissa Mars on the IPOD, just as another, perhaps more active group of people tore into the video store in a uniform of high school leavers tops, charging at such speed their collection of less cool than they perhaps bargained for DVDs and novelty size pack of Skittles fell out the bottom of their plastic (non PC!) bag and scattered all across the car park. The curse of the girl with "AMANDA" (not a great nickname) festooned across her back above several bewildering hand scrawled messages was loud and clear, and drew disapproving glances from an old lady desperate for a cheescake at 10 in the morning. Ah yes, Kingston, and of course, lest I judge, a song by Ken and Barbie came on my IPOD, and just like the high school kids with the complete Karate Kid collection on DVD to chase down the hill, I put it down it cultural irony, made several shifty glances with my eyes, and shuffled home to catch some minor league day time sports...

Of course, my own high school leavers top has long surrended to indifference, the ravages of time and moths - I'm sure some of the names on it would be incredibly meaningful and poignant, and some would invoke feelings of vast indifference and some would probably serve me chips at the local Maccas if I returned to Burnie. My high school experience in Burnie was wildly variable - at least part of my cool when I first moved back to Burnie was based around some sort of strange and rumoured ability to play soccer. I didn't start the rumour that I was going to play Peles American friend in the sequel to Hotshot, but somehow it got around that I was Scottish (didn't they ever see Scotland play?) and a gun - luckily, no one found out I was chronically unfit, and was terrified of being hurt (I had a great line in turning away like a mad eedjit if the ball was about to hit my chest) until the following year. The only time our Eeyore like PE teacher made us play soccer, I had forgotten my shorts (avoiding horsebites) and ended up refereeing, which made the situation worse, as my firm grasp of the rules somehow added to the mythology. The gift of an entire summer should, of course, have made me get fit, practice and live up to the hype, but who could be arsed? I had a great beanbag, and a girl to pash outside a bakery. Luckily, I had already been rumbled as not as cool as my image so by the time it came for me to play, no one cared that I was rubbish. I still got up every Saturday morning and put on my little nylon shirt bought from the school bargain bin, and went out and tried not to get kicked up the arse. Satisfying moments were few and far between - oh sure, I got to kick the Devonport school smart arse fair in his smart arse, but I was pretty rubbish overall and just waited to go home and play Kick Off on the computer. My Dad was a pretty good coach but there was nothing he could do with me - not that I was ever cut out for a life time running around unmowed (soccer fields were way down the priority list of the groundskeepers) rough pitches in the rain, after all, Dad said he went to pick me up at school when I was five, and while everyone was playing soccer on the school sports oval, I was stood about 30 metres away being the referee while everyone ignored me...I think I missed my calling, especially considering how much I love a good whistle...

That's not to say though that I didn't have a significant high point. There was this guy who sometimes joined in with our soccer games in Scotland called Neil Murray. When I was on holiday in Scotland in 1993, he had just scored a goal for Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final (it got a big deflection, don't get ahead of yourself Murray) and was wandering about in a tartan suit round our muddy fields shaking hands with the good and the unwashed. Naturally, given he was wandering around like Charlie Tartan Potatoes, small children gathered round him and lined up for autographs, which in fairness he signed endlessly. Eventually, and somewhat inevitably, someone fished a ball out of the jaggy nettles that adjoined our dog shit covered field and threw it to him for our Neil to perform some tricks with. Tricks were forthcoming, and he showed a neat line in basic juggling, which was eventually tedious and sensing he was losing us, he began a game with the jovial declaration that no one was to kick him in the ankle, which was fair enough. As a gentle game broke out, someone passed me the ball, and when I looked up, it was just me and him, mano a mano, everyone else having either lost interest, found the smack dealer or having collapsed in a puffed out heap near the road. I ran at him with all my self determination, and then, for no real reason other than a passionate hatred of Rangers and probably a desire to avoid a big message from the local labrador, I did an exquisite stepover, a trick no less, and left him lying on his arse tackling thin air. No one else saw it, no one else was interested, other than me, Neil and the fat kid we had stuck in goal, who promptly burst out laughing. Obviously, the perfect end to the story would be me scoring a goal, and being cheered off by adoring nubile Ayrshire girls, but I stood there bewildered, and he came back at me, kicked me in the leg, shot me an evil eyed filthy look and took the ball back off me. I didn't mind that though, not just because I was delighted that I had a great story for the day someone invented blogging, but because he didn't realise that he had just a fragment, a tiny imperceptible speck, of dog shit right on the left shoulder of his fancy and expensive tartan suit. Victorious, I went home and watched WWF Raw on my aunties basic cable box, aware that even if every one else in Scotland I told that story to told me I was talking shite, it was him that was wearing shite...

We had this kid at school called Darren who was exceptionally motivated - he was the anti me, and also the bloke who answered the door to his house one day by saying "Darrens not in". The one day, we played a school from Devonports, how can I say this, "special" team. In Scotland, the less enlightened call the mental kids at school "window lickers", but I've never said that, whistles idly. Without exaggeration, they came on a mini bus with a boarded up back window, three of them had a limp, and one kid had a massive pair of goggle like glasses, almost stumbled down the bus steps and said without a trace of irony "Wow! We're in Burnie!", a sentence not uttered since the Penguin invasion of West Park for the 92 NTFL Grand Final (our blue and blue streamers were so damn fine - pity we got flogged). They also had a kid blessed with a prototype Tim Minchin mad hair cut who made an evil clicking sound with his tongue. As the bad news bennies lined up in what can roughly be described as a formation, my Dad made the uncharacteristic decision for him, as one of lifes more desirous winners, to give the benny squad Darren for the game to make things a bit fairer. Somewhat inevitably, Darren took it really badly, and turned into a one man ACME storm, running around in the thin drizzling Burnie air kicking us all in the air, stopping for a rest, and then kicking us up in the air again. They scored a goal when the ball hit the kid on the goggles and it rolled over the line. We played as if we wanted to participate in some sort of morale boost the downtrodden charity program. I never wanted to go home more than when we came off that field, having seen our last chance fall away when I was tacked by a kid who, without a joke, had a pen in his top pocket. There was nothing more we could say, the whole day passed in a blur of drizzle, embarrassment and inspirational triumph for everyone except us. The kid who was so excited to come to Burnie took off on a lap of honour, a very slow and deliberately limpy lap of honour screaming in a Jerry Lewis voice "We conquered Burnie!" - about two hours later, he finally completed his lap, and I'm told by my dad (I had unsportsmanlikely stormed off in a huff to go and kick my door in) that he said, again without any irony, with a plaintive"Oi Glavin!" voice "So now what do we do?"...

I think that somehow that's on his high school leavers top, and somewhere on a blog, he's fully recapped the day he nutmegged the uppity blonde kid from Burnie...Neil Murrays blog, of course, just says June 1993 never happened....

6 comments:

Miladysa said...

You have excelled yourself with this post. My sides ached I laughed so much :D

I said to my husband, "Ever heard of Neil Murray?" he nodded and replied, "He was an 'ard git!"

Miles McClagan said...

Ah, not so hard he could stand up to a bit of silky skill! It was really funny to put a professional footballer on his arse...I recommend it to everyone, just once!

david kramer said...

Great blog post. Thanks.
Hey, since Austrailia is a day ahead of the US, who won the election over here?
DK

Jannie said...

M, you write some loooooong, looooong-ass posts but even with your muntering and rubbish of a footballer's past, you kick arse on Blogland which yes, I think was indeed invented just for your posts.

Window lickers? Jay-sus.

I mostly sucked at softball that one year I played but I did have a High Point too when I caught my Neill Murray's fly ball. Not so much ankle kicking as in your tale tho, but it did send a big girl crying back to her dug-out.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

There has got to be something very vindicating about putting a professional footballer "in his place"! :-)

Miles McClagan said...

All I can say about the election...hanging chads...that's all I'm sayng...

Yeah, window lickers, and the window lickers bus, it's not a very PC word, but I was young and full of Chewits...I scored a home run at softball once, but the next time I bunted the ball into my nose...life is a leveller!

Oh yeah, it was definitely awesome...I just wish that I had finished the job and scored a goal, but oh well, I didn't get shit on me!