Hand Me Downs And Cotton Wool

pre2002_junior_action_001A black t-shirt with a white hand stitched number 10 over the left breast.

Oversized hand me down black shorts.

Mud. So much mud. Ankle deep, black and stinking like stagnant pond water. Great for hurling by the handful in the direction of the nearest team mate.

A ball pumped so tight it could surely break a frozen toe if contact were ever actually achieved.

Those frozen toes in ancient second hand boots from the club boot box, stuffed full of cotton wool to make them fit. “You’ll grow into them.”

Something about “stay out of The D!”, then “run the other way! No, this way!”

Pulling faces with mouths full of quartered oranges.

Legs stuck in the mud.

Now Running! Running! Being chased!

“Kick it! .. Kick it again! .. And again Boy!”

Joy. Grinning through caked on mud.

A whistle.

“Three cheers for Stirling East! Three cheers for The Ref! Three cheers for Hahndorf!”

In that moment, I’d discovered the most beautiful game in the world.

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