Yesterday at my office a colleague approached me and asked me if I was interested in playing cricket for the company team.
It's fair to say that I've has a fairly turbulent relationship with sports over the course of my life. I love watching sport. I miss Grandstand, I'm a lifelong Chelsea fan and don't live far from Stamford Bridge. I absolutely love watching rugby - especially the 6 nations - and tend to hit Twickenham whenever possible. I've loved F1 since I was a toddler and rarely miss a minute of the Olympics. This post is not about watching sport though. The problem I have becomes obvious the second I put on a pair of shorts and stretch off. I find playing competitive sports as easy as swallowing a bed.
I think it all started with swimming lessons. I can swim pretty well - enough not to drown and die - but I was never good enough to progress to the big boy class. My mum still tells the story of when my swimming teacher told me off for hopping along the bottom of the pool when I was supposed to be practicing my front crawl. This epic fail on my part was fairly common through my whole sporting life, however.
Cycling for instance. Merely challenged to a race down the local steep hill at the age of 11 seems like a memory we all have. Very little could go wrong. As it was my mate Tim did challenge me to such a race on a nice warm day on the last week of school. We belted down Holland Way and I saw some girls we knew ahead walking on the pavement. Ever the show off I attempted a wheelie but made a complete arse of it. Luckily there was a phone box near by and the girls called me an ambulance.
Broken foot, 3 months on crutches.
Football is another example. At primary school I was always banished to play in goal. I remember once we were playing class 6D - the FC Barcelona of the school - and I was once again between the sticks. A particularly plucky striker split the defence and the rest of the team celebrated immediately, as if to say that putting it past me was merely a formality. I was not having any of that though. He smashed the ball as hard as he could and I stretched out my right leg. I saved it! Our team breathed a sigh of relief.
I was in the hospital an hour later with a rebroken foot.
I had some moderate success at secondary school on the rugby pitch. We were the shittest team in the league but at least I was on the team at all. My main strength came from my size. I was considerably taller than everyone else my age so I was considered a powerhouse. Until Donald came along. Donald was an abnormally massive guy for his young years. Like me, he was also cursed with a lack of coordination between his brain and limbs.
During a game I was predictably tackled and assumed position for a ruck. I released the ball next to my head and waited for someone to pick it and pop it out to the wings. Donald had other ideas. For some reason he decided he'd hoof it down the pitch using his size 11s. He took a run up but must have closed his eyes before wildly swinging his leg in the general direction of the ball. He missed.
I woke up a couple of minutes later on the sideline, with a nice chunky concussion.
One thing I was actually not bad at was athletics. I liked the lack of strategy. It was literally 'run as fast as possible' or 'chuck this shit far'. Easy. My hard work in these areas paid off when I was made captain of the Hayes Secondary athletics team. My brother came to watch me in our first athletics meeting. I won the 200 metre sprint and came second in the discus. I was very proud. Afterwards I asked him what he thought and he said "you run a bit like a duck".
So that was the end of that.
Needless to say I won't be playing cricket for the team.