1000 Shades of Grey
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
It's not me
Those of you with memories of my days contributing the odd story to my University student magazine, and in particular my penchant for doing so under a nom de plume, I'd just like to make it clear that I'm not moonlighting as a Guardian sports writer.

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Off the bench
I promised you a report on my progress (provided I didn't shin an own goal costing us the match) and so it's only fair to deliver one.

The game was played on a somewhat questionable pitch (big holes, including one that needed to be filled in with the aid of a mound of earth and a shovel prior to kick off) which had a bigger slope that St James' Park and with the added complication of a strong wind.

As it was, we started the better team (despite being away from home) and deservedly took a two goal lead (the second direct from a corner!).

Shooting uphill and into the wind in the second half was always going to be tougher, and so it proved - although we still had chances to score a third and make the game safe.

So, with a two goal lead, and twenty minutes to go, I made my long awaited debut - coming off the bench and fitting in at right back (a position that I would not describe as my ideal, but beggars can't be choosers). A couple of tidy interceptions later, and I was settling into the game - even causing their defence some difficulties from two attacking corners.

Then the wheels fell off, as the home side forced home a goal mouth scramble before slotting a forty yard free kick into the top corner in the last minute to grab a barely deserved equaliser.

Despite not being directly culpable for either goal, to come on at 2-0 and leave the field at 2-2 was something of a sickener. However, we're trying to remain positive and as a team we're now unbeaten in four, safely ensconced in mid-table, and play our next game (sadly with me unavailable due to a pre-existing family commitment) in the MAA Minors Cup on Saturday.

Friday, October 06, 2006
Squad rotation
As you will no doubt recall, having joined a football club, I suffered a pre-season injury set back.

Despite a concerted effort on my part to exacerbate the problem, I'm delighted to say that the injury has cleared up and I've spent the last few weeks training hard in an effort to get myself back into contention for the first team. After a particulalrly brutal session on Tuesday night (the email saying "bring trainers" translating to a night doing a combination of 800m runs and 400m sprints with not a ball in sight) I was pleased to see how much my fitness has actually improved since the start of pre-season training.

I've also noticed an element of weight loss, which is no bad thing, and has seen me return to the weight I was when I got married over three years ago. (The down side is my beautiful Thai-tailored suit is now slightly baggy.)

Anyway, the hard work appears to have paid off, as the combination of a stag do and some other commitments ruling out several first teamers meaning that I have made my way into the 14 for Saturday's match.

Whilst there's every chance I'll spend more time as a linesman than I will on the pitch (I'm thinking a five minute cameo at the end with the game won against tiring opposition, where I open my account for the season from a corner) I can't help but be really excited about the prospect of playing.

Expect a brief summary of my contribution to appear next week. (Unless I shin an own goal which costs us the match.)

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