|Making memories on the soccer field|
|Written by Rob Peecher|
|Thursday, 10 February 2011|
“And Partick Thistle has stolen the cup from the champions of the Premier League,” said the announcer (me, in my best Andy Gray impersonation). “The heads of Chelsea and Manchester United fans must be hanging low tonight as the Firhill Jags walk away with the hardware.”
Partick Thistle plays in the Irn Bru (Scottish soccer) First Division. They’re a middle of the road First Division team, but somewhere along the line I developed an affinity for the Firhill Jags. At Christmas and on my birthday Jean buys me Partick Thistle red and yellow jerseys and scarves and shirts, and every Saturday morning I get on the computer and follow the live text updates for the team.
I read the Glaswegian newspaper sports section online because it is the one newspaper that consistently covers Thistle matches and Thistle news. I watch the match highlights on Partick Thistle’s website and follow the video news on the Irn Bru First Division main site.
Partick Thistle is my team.
My youngest son is a
At Christmas and birthdays, we buy the boys jerseys and
scarves from their favorite teams. It’s far easier to find
When the boys and I go to the park to kick the soccer ball we often play Club World Cup. One person gets in the goal as the keeper while the others try to score goals, everyone playing against everyone else on half the field. Everyone has a turn in the goal. And each person picks a club team and when we take our shots we have to shout out the name of our team or the goal doesn’t count.
I’m Partick Thistle. Robert is
It used to be that I always won unless I backed off and allowed
the kids to win. But now my oldest son is too fast and too good. Now
Nevertheless, for my three sons and me, we relish these afternoons when we can slip away from whatever we should be doing and go out and spend a couple of hours kicking a soccer ball at each other. And that’s why, when I wanted to do something special for Nathan, I checked him and Robert out of school and we went to the park to play.
January 4 was Nathan’s birthday. It started out poorly. Jean and I worked all night and Nate and his brothers spent the night with their grandparents, so there were no gifts to open first thing in the morning.
Then he had to go to school. When you’re 11-years-old, it’s no fun to go to school on your birthday (or any other day). When you’re 11-years-old, your birthday seems like it should be sacred, and you don’t go to school on Sundays so you shouldn’t have to go to school on your birthday.
While he was at school, the frame of Nathan’s glasses snapped. They called us from the school (and woke us up) to tell us that Nate’s glasses were broken.
Nathan’s birthday wasn’t going particularly well, and I was feeling bad for him.
So I checked Nate and Robert out from school a couple hours early and the three of us spent an hour or two playing Club World Cup soccer at the Veterans Park.
I played in goal first.
Now here’s the thing – when Robert goes to volley the ball into the goal off of a punt, I can come running up and head the ball away from him, get the ball, turn and score before he really knows what’s happened. Or when Nathan tries to dribble around me, I can utilize the excessive advantage I have with much longer legs to slide the ball away from his feet, turn and score before Nate even realizes he’s no longer dribbling the ball.
It’s not that I’m a good soccer player, it’s just that I’m bigger, faster and stronger than my younger sons. At 38, I can beat an 11-year-old and a 9-year-old at soccer.
And I relished the moment, not so much for my victory over two little kids but because little Partick Thistle beat out two of the best teams in the world. In my Andy Gray voice, I chastised Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney for allowing Kris Doolan to outscore them.
And Robert got mad.
Robert, my youngest and most competitive son, hates to lose. And when he loses, he makes sure that anyone who wins is miserable for it.
He kicked a ball across the field and started to storm off.
“Hey!” I said, still in my Andy Gray voice. “Get back here!” Then I dropped the Andy Gray voice and went to my stern Dad voice.
“What are you pouting about?” I asked.
“Nothing,” Robert spat in full pout mode.
“Answer this question for me,” I said. “This little game of ours that we just played – does it count for anything? Does it matter at all who won or lost?”
“No,” Robert spat, still pouting.
“What matters about today is the memory that we created,” I said. “In 30 years, you’re going to remember that when you were a kid, you and your dad and your brothers went and played soccer together all the time. You’ll remember that I used to check you guys out of school sometimes just to go play soccer.
“The memories, not the wins and losses or the goals, are what’s important.
“Do you want the memories to be that whenever you lost you pouted and we ended a good time with you upset and pouting?”
Robert’s tone eased a little. “No,” he said.
“When you guys are all grown, and I’m an old man and it’s just me and your mom at home together, and I don’t have anybody to go play soccer with any more and all in the world I have is these memories of us playing together, do you want me to look back and say, ‘Those were awful times because if Robert didn’t win he pouted,’ or do you want me to be able to look back and say, ‘I really miss playing soccer with those kids and the good times we had together?’”
“The second one,” Robert said. And then, he changed his attitude, and we had a good time for what was left of Nathan’s birthday soccer.
Robert is 9-years-old. I don’t expect that one lesson is going to make a lasting difference. So, because it’s more important to me that we create good memories than it is that Partick Thistle scores meaningless victories over Manchester United and Chelsea, I have told Robert’s older brothers that from now on the rule is that Robert gets to win all the games.
But for one brief moment, Partick Thistle held the cup aloft over two of the best teams in the world, and I’ll always remember that.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 February 2011 )|
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