Kicking Out: 50 sights and sounds of club GAA
1. Sitting in a team meeting saying nothing. Nodding. Agreeing. Walking out the door saying ‘that was some feed of s****’.
2. Leaving the corner of the field nearest the changing rooms a mess for half the year by doing doggies the first night of pre-season.
3. Losing three men to hamstring injuries on the first night of pre-season.
4. Taking your book of lotto tickets on the way out the door. £300 lifted the first week. £26 by week four. Not heard of again the rest of the year.
5. A fight at training. Always unconnected to football. You’re down at least one man if they leave without shaking hands.
6. Cold showers.
7. Being thrown in the ice bath for your birthday. Going home and changing your Facebook settings.
8. Looking out the window and praying for “training’s cancelled” to ping into the WhatsApp group.
9. “If you haven’t paid your membership by Sunday, you can’t play the first league game”.
10. Fielding 13 unregistered players on Sunday.
11. The excitement of new gear arriving. Thirty-nine men at training. Fourteen of them never seen again.
12. “That’s a squad that will do damage, serious depth,” you note as you pen out the potential starting line-up for the year.
13. “We’ve nothing to win a game off the bench”, you note after an eight-point defeat in the first game.
14. Needing respiratory treatment for the effects of Deep Heat inhalation.
15. Trying to find a bib that isn’t three sizes too big or three sizes too small.
16. Trying to find a bib that’s been washed this month.
17. A changing room filled with rampant enthusiasm to do nothing other than to “send those b****** back to the city / east Tyrone / south Derry / south Armagh”.
18. Tagging your team mates on in-jokes on social media.
19. “You don’t train, you don’t play”. Unless you’re any use.
20. “We don’t lose on this pitch this year,” the impassioned captain bellows before the first home game.
21. “We don’t lose on this pitch again this year,” the deflated captain urges a fortnight later.
Player 1: “Who’s the referee?"
Player 2: “Him again.”
Player 3: “Ah not him again.”
Manager: “Boys if we play our football, it doesn’t matter who the referee is.”
Manager: “I’m proud of you lads today, we played our football but it’s hard playing 16 men.”
23. Team bonding weekends being a success if there are no rows.
24. Attempting 40-metre frees off the ground before you stretch. Blaming the resulting injury on sprints. A bit like blaming the bad burger after a night out.
25. Walking out to take your position in the throw-in, asking your colleagues in the half-forward line, “Which side do you want to play on?”
26. “Have you any tape?” says the electrician to the accountant.
27. Roaring at the forwards to “do the f***ing thing right” after being lobbed for the third time in a shooting drill. “Would you do that in a match, would ye, aye?”
28. Refreshing the county website five times a day just to make sure you’re still top on alphabetical order after the first round of games. Living off the fumes.
29. Winning the first penalty six games into the new season and having absolutely no idea who’s taking it. Revert to last year’s penalty taker. Penalty competition held at training on Tuesday night. Won by last year’s taker.
30. Kinesio is the most exotic word you know.
31. Playing through the pain barrier, and cursing boys who aren’t playing through the pain barrier. “Hamstring strain my arse, he needs to tighten up.”
32. Missing three months because you ignored a hamstring strain.
33. All injuries miraculously clearing up in the first two weeks of August.
34. “Just a warm-up and playing a game tonight lads, everyone there for 7.15pm sharp.”
Everyone is there for 7.15pm sharp. Everyone.
35. Heard in the crowd:
“Why’s Paddy not playing?”
"He did the crucial.”
36. Being convinced that your dozen hardcore supporters are all clinically insane.
37. Going to the same pitches year after year and being done by the same cheating umpire on the same post.
38. Defending your own cheating umpire to the death.
39. The Bad Row. Any self-respecting club has at least two a decade.
40. Having to order an XL jersey for the lad with whom medium player fit doesn’t agree.
41. Throwing away the opposition goalkeeper’s tee.
42. Marking your cousin, or your cousin’s husband. Usually not the same cousin.
43. Knowing you’re not available for the game at the weekend and taking the week off training.
44. Storing photos of M2 traffic on your phone for emergencies.
45. Finding a reason to be busy when you’re asked to steward a game.
46. Wanting to drive all the ‘Gaelic Trainer’ balls so far down the next field they’ll never be found again.
47. Wondering whether yellow boots would have made you any better if they’d been acceptable in your day.
48. Trying to spy if the injury rumours are true as you watch the opposition file into their changing room. But you can’t get caught looking.
49. Guest coach comes in for the month before championship. Word filters out. Your threat level in the eye of opposition teams rises multiplies.
50. The best days of your life.