Monday 11 December 2017

Out of retirement and into Junior G.A.A. fire

Hello, my name is Brendan, I'm 37, and I have breasts. I'd like you to take a moment to savour that sentence before I move on because it's very important in the context of the rest of this column.

Having breasts, you see, is the inspiration for me to return to Junior football next Friday night and I plan to document my journey to some extent on this very page.

Now they're not big whoppers of breasts or anything. I'm no Pamela Anderson or Jordan so don't get too carried away with your imaginations. No, my breasts are little ones, Junior 'C' boobies if you like, created by four years of no exercise, four years of parenting to three children under five, four years of bottle feeds, scoffed dinners, sneaky chocolate bars, sleepless nights, four years of bedtime stories instead of laps, coffee instead of sports drinks, a quiet night in rather than the hunt for championship success. I feel like I'm emerging from a forest, a lovely forest, don't get me wrong, but a forest nonetheless, a forest where there was no football, no physical effort besides the changing of nappies and the lifting up and the putting down of infants.

And in that forest I changed physically. For many years I carried the nickname 'Bones', a title handed down to me by my equally aerodynamic older brother. A schoolyard tough guy used to call me 'Bag of Bones'. I didn't really have a comeback. He was a fine specimen of a chap. So I'd call back, rather weakly, 'go on ya bag of skins'. It didn't really affect him I have to say.

'Ya skinny wretch,' was another popular chastisement of me by my peers. Or the classic 'if you turned sideways you'd disappear' was pulled out on special occasions.

So the appearance of breasts and a blossoming belly to someone used to such a svelte build for the majority of his life came as a real shock to the system.

Having cupped them quite regularly over the past year or so I'd have to say my breasts are no more than a handful. Cupping them caused quite strange feelings it has to be said but it's probably best not to explore down that pathway.

But, anyway, they are the reason I've decided to try to find the gear bag, buy new contact lenses and now a set of gumshields apparently (in my day there was no fancy stuff like gumshields, if you hadn't lost a few of your teeth in a match you weren't considered a man for God's sake).

I've another reason for returning as well. Last year I transferred clubs, in my own county. If I possessed any real talent it might have been controversial. But I don't, so nobody cared, except me. I felt like I was cheating on my wife. I felt like I was doing the dirt.

I transferred because I thought I'd play at a lower level on a Thursday night rather than at weekends when I work, but it didn't work out. I couldn't shake the thought that I was in bed with another woman, a tough woman who didn't use deodorant or brush her teeth, not like my sweet love, my home club to whom I now return like a prodigal son. The other club were welcoming, they tried their best, but it wasn't for me.

The home club made the call. Again, not because of any skill but because emigration has cut a path through the team like a tornado and they need bodies much like the allies needed bodies for World War 1 and 2. Two initial calls, one from the best player on the team, one from the new Chairman, were followed by a call from the manager, my old friend 'Goose'.

'Goose' took over last year. He's from the neighbouring club, played county in Carlow, midfield. An animal. Myself and 'Goose' used to court women together back in the day. I owned a Suzuki AX 100 motorbike, another animal, 60 miles an hour flat out downhill with a strong wind behind you. I had a sticker on the back that read 'Pog mo Thóin'. Daughters were locked up, I can assure you.

But 'Goose' and myself used to travel the backroads of Carlow in search of love, he from his now wife and me from anyone free at the time. The reason I'm telling you this is because I'm hoping he'll read this and feel a sneaky pressure to give me back my spot in the goals for the season ahead. I wasn't a bad goalkeeper in my day. 'Great reflexes,' one elderly gentleman was heard to say about me one day.

So next Friday night I begin my war against my breasts. 'Goose' says he's going to work on our cores in the local hall. I haven't been this excited since the youngest child was toilet trained. A new chapter is beginning. Let the madness begin.

New Ross Standard

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