Fitting way to leave the beautiful game

A personal view
A personal view
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I have been thinking about retirement a lot recently. Maybe not the normal kind when I should, I hope, have around 30 years of work left ahead of me and my business is still in its infancy.

Instead my retirement thoughts have centred around life on a football pitch.

Looking back, my twenties were dominated by football. I had a good working career so I wasn’t quite living for the weekend. But I didn’t half look forward to it.

It wasn’t just what happened during the match. It was meeting up with mates for breakfast on Saturday morning or watching more live football, while debating the best and worst of our own performances, on a Sunday afternoon.

Football has many faults, at many levels, but socially it is a fantastic way to enjoy and embrace a circle of friends. The same can be said for pretty much all team sports.

But as I entered my thirties, a 20-year ‘career’ playing on all kinds of pitches across East Anglia was starting to take its toll. Not that it stopped me. I need more than my two hands to count how many times I have said I am retiring from football before lacing my boots once again.

Like an alluring mistress, the beautiful game kept calling me back making me think I could overcome dodgy knees and a growing waistline for one more shot at the (local) big time.

This usually happens when I get together with my old team mates to reminisce about the glory games and goals which ends with us all thinking we can turn back the clock. The fact we would be lining up against opponents who could be 20 years younger than me is a mere detail.

I write this because I am once again coming out of retirement – sort of.

I am now aware that the typical Saturday and Sunday league parks of West Suffolk are probably beyond me, even if I might use my sons and family time as a neat, though real, excuse for not being able to play.

So that just leaves exhibition games. But what a game I have coming up. Lining up against the Ipswich Town Legends, I will be taking my place alongside a group of fans fundraising for West Suffolk Hospital Charity’s Forget-Me-Not Dementia Campaign and the ITFC Academy at Bury Town on Sunday, April 17.

Pitting my wits against the likes of John Wark, Matt Holland and Kieron Dyer while being managed by Terry Butcher as part of the Forget-Me-Not FC.

What better way to bow out. Until the next time. I hope to see as many of you there as possible.

To find out more about the ITFC Legends match, please visit www.wsh.nhs.uk/Charity.