Today I watched the boy Blue play football. His team, the Reds, were not at full strength, but Blue was quite magnificent. He scored two goals, played the game in a generous and positive spirit, without diving, cheating or showing off, and only lost a bit of impetus in the second half once he realized that the opposition were targeting him. In case that sounds a bit paranoid, I overheard the opposition half time team talk, as the coach invoked his boys to concentrate on number 5: “If you stop number 5, you’ll stop the rest,” he urged. And they listened too. I spent most of the second half screaming like a fishwife as I watched my boy being held, poked, tripped and insulted while the other team went from 0-2 to 4-2 in the space of 20 minutes.
I am not a regular touchline supporter. This delight usually falls to the Wave, who has become good friends with the parents of Blue’s team mates. So I hope I didn’t embarrass myself or anyone else on our team when I got into an unfortunate spat with the referee (also a parent, but of a boy in the opposing team). I had been yelling some version of ‘Get your hands off him!’ to one boy on various occasions, when the ref-parent turned round, from the pitch and shouted at me,
‘He wasn’t touching him!’
‘Yes he was!’
‘Are you the referee?’
‘No, I am just supporting my SON!’
I am not an advocate of ref-bating at any level, but the sense of exhilaration I felt at standing up for my wonderful, inspiring, dignified, athletic, Neymar-esque boy at the top of my voice at the expense of this deluded buffoon and his cheating children was overwhelmingly positive. I was practically Spartacus.
Unfortunately, their coach was right and we, the Reds, went on to lose 4-2. But since then, coincidentally or not, we Redsticks feel like a stronger unit. Blue has spent the rest of the day telling the Wave and I how much he loves us. There is an air of calm. The Dood is not so happy after two late nights, a swim and a vat of hot chocolate, but that’s another story…!