TEN INCONTROVERTIBLE TRUTHS...
From urine-soaked bushes to cheating linesman and mouldy, mismatched kits, there's a lot to be said for the beautiful game's ugly sister.
Like national service or camping in a leaking tent, there is something wonderfully character building about playing Sunday league football.
Which is why it is sad to learn that the noble ritual of turning out on a freezing cold January morning to hoof a ball around a mud-saturated meadow while attempting to negotiate a vision-affecting hangover is in such rapid decline.
You’ll miss it when it’s gone. Maybe. Anyway, if you are one of the hardy souls who has enjoyed the beautiful game’s ugly sister (that sounded wrong) then sit back and nod in agreement with these ten Sunday league truths.
1) No team in the existence of Sunday morning football has ever had an entirely matching kit
This is so for two reasons: firstly, that bloke who turned up once last season never returned his shorts, leaving your a pair light; and, secondly, there is always someone who insists on wearing their own socks for no apparent reason.
2) At least once in your Sunday morning career you will have stripped down to your underwear in a car park in the middle of winter because the home team has no changing facilities
And it’s ok. Because everyone else is doing it (and I don’t mean like 70s TV stars). The same rule applies to urinating in a bush at half time.
3) You will be fluent in a dialect that those outside of the Sunday morning scene are not
Phrases like “forget the first half – it’s 0-0 again” (despite your team trailing 9-1), “calm down, we’ve all got to go to work in the morning”, and “Phil, you’re not signed on so if you get booked your name’s Ricardo”.
4) You will have witnessed / executed / been the victim of a tackle that would require an entire edition of Match of the Day to dissect
And the likelihood is the player responsible is given a stern ticking off or, at worst, a yellow card. Red cards in Sunday League are as common as goal-line technology. Unlike horrific challenges, which are dished out fairly frequently. Like this one here.
5) Actual, real life, bona fide Sunday league goalkeepers are like gold dust
Goalies are a dying breed – which means there’s every chance the opposition – or your own team – is fielding a second choice left back between the sticks.
6) You will have worn kit that is still caked in week-old mud because the player who was supposed to wash it forgot
Taking in the stench of damp, muddy shirts, shorts and socks that have been left to rot in a bag for a week is an experience few will forget. Think teenage bedroom combined with microwaved roadkill.
7) The opposition linesman is a cheat
Always. Even when he isn’t and your team’s 7-0 defeat had absolutely nothing to do with him.
8) Smoking at half-time is ok
In many ways, Sunday league is a nostalgic throwback to the halcyon days of 1970s football, when it was fine to turn up ten minutes before kick-off, play despite being three times the drink-drive limit and sleep with Miss England at half-time. All of these, plus a half-time fag, are, reassuringly, still socially acceptable on a Sunday morning.
9) Half your team will have turned up an hour late the morning after the clocks go forward
Presumably, the decision to switch to British Summer Time overnight on a Saturday was taken so as not to affect the working week. But, clearly, no-one considered the impact on Sunday morning football. They never do. Which means that your striker, playmaker, winger, best centre back and goalie show up midway through the first half as the seven of you who did remember to change your clocks are, valiantly, attempting to avoid a rugby score.
10) Playing Sunday league football is wonderful
Truly the antithesis to the overhyped Premier League and its fancy dan, prima donna, play-acting, greed-intoxicated fairies. Where would we be without Sunday morning football?
Probably tucked up in bed reading the paper, supping a coffee and nibbling on a croissant. How dull.
This article was first published in the Telegraph online on 21st November 2014. Written by Box2Box Football.