Times have changed, somethings for better, some for worse. I look at the way my kids relax and play when they are on their own time, they either have a cell phone in hand or are facebooking about something they heart or have the Playstation loaded up playing some game that I have no idea how to play or what is going on. My kids excercise comes scheduled. A Soccer game, trip to the gym, swimming, unless they are told to do it, they won’t do it. Going outside? Why would they do that when they can watch other people outside on youtube? I guess I’ve gotten old, I hit 42 on the 8th of this month. And I must admit I like computer games, I love the internet but there is nothing like a glorious day to run around outside.
Most British males my age will remember that if you had a football (soccer) you had friends. If you walked through one of the housing estates you could come across a couple of kids playing one versus one and you’d ask if you could join in. Soon you’d realise that it had turned into twenty versus twenty and looked more like murderball, but you’d dust off your knees and tell everyone you’d see them tomorrow. Quite often it would be a case of your parents scouring the local neighbourhood to find you. You would hear them yelling your name and you knew damn well you had to get home before they did or you would be in trouble.
Nobody had expensive replica kits to wear, and we all knew which players we wanted to be, I myself was always Paul Marriner or Alan Brazil and on the occasions where it was my turn to be goalie I’d be Paul Cooper. My loyalty was as strong to Ipswich Town back in those days just as it is now, though the younger me had a better team to support. We also didn’t need grass, a coach, someone with a whistle, a decent ball for that matter. Goalposts could be two shirts thrown down, a couple of handy trees, a chalk line drawn on the side of someones house or a garage door (a bonus was if it was open with no car in it). Once in a blue moon we’d find some real goalposts to play with, but normally the bigger kids would take those. We’d make do with whatever we could. Good pal Lee Culley and myself were masters of garage football. We’d play one on one for hours the score un-important, The worst thing that could happen is if a wild shot went over the top of the garage. It meant one of us would have to either knock on the door “Please Mr. Can we have our ball back,” or as was normally the case, Lee jumping over the gate and grabbing the ball hoping that whoever lived there didn’t let his dog out. We gave no thought to safety, slide tackling on the concrete never worried us, though time and time again I would put holes in the knees of my trousers. That was until my Mother got fed up and put me in shorts, then I just put a hole in my knee! I still have the scar! Our games were full of dreams, the game was always an F.A.Cup final or World Cup Final. If we didn’t have enough people around for teams, we would play headers and volleys, Wembley or Sinbad (wish I could remember the rules for Sinbad, someone reply and tell me) No body who wanted to play was ever left out. It didn’t matter if you were no good, even if you got picked last, you still got picked and you still played. The kids in America have a hard time getting the concept. Their housing estates for the most part don’t have anywhere for the kids to gather and play, there is no where in walking distance. The kids in the U.K. should still be out there kicking a ball about. But then our internet generation is over protective of our kids. Worried that their little darlings would get snatched away. As I recall, all the kids of my generation had street smarts, and we all knew who the dirty old man was and normally laughed at him. It shouldn’t be the weirdos people worry about. I’m sure there are just as many out there now as there was back in the 70s. What you should be more upset about is something far more evil. Something that is just plain wrong. Even the side of the house that I grew up in has one of these now and they are spreading.
Let the kids play.