As you know, Dexter is a huge football fan and a lot of my weekend is taken up with me taking him to training and his match which, for the most part, I’m happy to do. It’s a great bunch of parents who I like to think have now become my friends.
Today was an away match and I had it in my mind (we’re emailed every week by the manager) that I had to be there at 10.50am. As we approached, we saw kids on their scooters playing in the playground and a few boys kicking a ball about, but I couldn’t see any of his team mates. I thought it a little strange because we get there in plenty of time to warm up before the match starts after forty minutes or so.
When I got closer, I bumped into a fellow football mum who wondered why I was so late? “Late? What do you mean late?” I asked her.
Erm, turns out I was due there an hour ago.
As luck would have it, there had been an ‘issue’ with the referee … insofar as he had apparently turned up earlier, presumed no-one had turned up, and promptly went back home again.
It all went downhill from there really.
The match should have technically been called off, and forfeited there and then, but somehow it continued. The whole game was a farce. The linesman was coaching from the side (you’re not allowed), the referee who, I should point, appeared to be just some random bloke from the opposition wearing jeans and jumper, with the most half hearted whistle I’ve ever heard, was the most biased ref I’ve ever had misfortune to watch, and it all culminated with a parent from the other team shouting out, “Just let the kids fucking play!” … after we had the audacity to point out that giving a second free kick for no reason was taking the proverbial mickey somewhat.
The ref even threatened to send one of our mums off the touchline!
There was just so must frustration on and off the pitch today that tempers got really frayed because the thing is, we’re actually used to losing, but it’s not the losing we mind … it’s how we lose. If we’ve played a fair game and we just lost to a better team, fair enough. But today, there was no sportsmanship and the other team were just so unnecessarily rough – but that’s what happens when you’re playing other teams from your county … everyone’s idea of ‘fair’ is different.
The one positive to come from today’s game was that our boys didn’t give up. They didn’t let their heads go down even though they lost 5-1 and we all knew it was an unfair result. But try telling anyone there today, parent or child, that it’s ‘just’ a game … and I don’t think you’d have liked the answer!
As for me … well, because we were so late I had missed out on my pre-match walking around the pitch ten times (to try and get my 10,000 steps for the day) and so when things got a little heated, I took myself off for a walk – watching out for Dexter as I went of course. I’ve learnt to avoid conflict when I can and nowadays, I choose my battles. Our corner was well and truly covered (we have some fantastically feisty women in our group!) and it’s better for me to keep calm.
I’m not sure if we’re going to put a formal complaint in or not today, that’s the manager’s decision, but, as I told Dexter, all we can do is be responsible for our own actions and with that in mind, Dexter played his heart out.