Video Saturday – The Football Club Reunion, 1978
So last night was the annual reunion of the football club that all of my male friends were involved with in the 1970s, my involvement being that I would meet them in the pub on a Sunday lunchtime after they had played their Sunday League match, more fool them, kick off times, access to changing rooms, and traveling distances often meant that they didn’t get back to The Fox until 12.30 or later whilst I would often fall backwards through the tap room door when Norman the landlord opened it at 12 noon, having sat on the doorstep for ten minutes – drinking times on Sundays were limited to two hours on a lunchtime so to miss a quarter of that precious space in time was sacrilege.
1978 would be a typical year of that era, the Sunday lunchtime sessions consisting of a competition to throw as many pints of foaming ale down your throat in two hours as is humanely possible, then stagger home to you mother where she would have prepared a Sunday lunch that could not be beat, just for you and your brother and your father who would similarly stagger in from the golf club just after 2pm, all three blathered, starving for roast beef and yorkshire pud and roast potatoes and a selection of boiled to death vegetables, all keen to see who would get the string this week for when our dad carved the beef in his blathered state he rarely remembered to take the string off the joint first and it was usually Ned who got it.
So last night they gathered together once again to compare girths and lack of hair and point at one or two who seem to have maintained both from their youth hood in suspicious circumstances, you look into the faces of fifty-something year old men, men with children still dependent on them for finance, men with mortgages, men some of whom are pensioners now, men with lines on their faces and more grey hair than they care about, men who have borne responsibilities these past forty years that they never dreamed of back in 1978 – and the strange thing is that you can still see the 17 year old lad in their face and hear it in their voice, or at least you can if you were around to know it back in the day, to anyone else last night would have just looked like a load of old men drinking beer more steadily than they did in their youth, and talking very loudly to each other because most of them (us) can only hear selectively these days.
And they compared operation scars, told each other of what surgery they had had done on their football knees, some of them have plastic joints in knees and hips, others showed faint physical scars on faces from battles long remembered, some had to sit down after a while “because me knees will give up”, but me, the one who never played a competitive game of football in his life, the one who used to saunter down to the pub for 12 noon and wait for them of a Sunday, the one who has never knowingly partaken of any exercise in his life, me, I had nothing to show them, no operations, no time spent in hospitals at all, no visits to the doctors with aches and pains, not one plastic part in my body, not one problem to report of, me, the lazy-arsed one, I have parts of my body that I haven’t even used yet.