The sun was blistering. I’d never grown accustomed to its charms and I was fucked if I was going to develop an affinity for the big, ostentatious prick at this stage. The astro-turf football pitch showed no such disdain for the soaring temperature, remaining coolly unaffected as hordes of children stomped, scuffled and sprinted across its futuristic bastardisation of the earth. It was irritating enough that Ben’s sudden desire to play football forced me to spend hours each week standing shoulder-to-shoulder with all the overly-enthusiastic parents, but since the old groundsman died in that seven lawnmower pile-up, I didn’t even have the nostalgia of a real fucking grass football pitch to alleviate the mind-numbing experience of watching talentless children batter each other under the guise of ‘tackling’.
The other parents were comfortably the worst aspect of the whole charade. Some had the decency to look on in detached silence, or spend the duration of the match buried in their phones, and I was quietly grateful for their passionless lack of engagement. Unfortunately, most of the utter knobs were too selfish to let their failed aspirations smoulder within and resolved to spend those dreary evenings on the sidelines treating the under-age football matches as some sort of punching-bag/therapist hybrid. The illusion of ‘encouragement’ allowed for Mr. and Mrs. Existential Regret to shout and scream until they grew hoarse. Often the words were laced with near-genuine positive affirmations. Much more often, despite the supposed good intentions, negative connotations began to seep in and it became utterly clear, to me at least, that they were merely shouting at themselves. They weren’t pushing little Rudiger toward ‘his’ dream of becoming a professional, they were openly lamenting their own failure to reach those levels.
“I could’ve made it you know, had a trial with Liverpool and all, if it wasn’t for the gammy knee here letting me down week-in, week-out”, says John, the short-arse, bloated accountant with a rehearsed smile and the distant sound of his own, long-deceased parents screaming at him. “That’s a pity, John”, I offer as a meaningless consolation. I wonder if John’s utter lack of talent and the complete absence of the usual genetic attributes which constitute the modern superhuman footballer have played any part in his failure to reach the pinnacle of the game. John is screaming words of aggressive encouragement which will later contribute to his son’s decision to take up smoking.
– “You’re a fat, slovenly cunt John.”
– “What’s that?”
– “That referee, he’s a right prick, isn’t he?”
– “Oh. Aye, to be sure. Soft penalty there. Wasn’t like that in my day, a gust of wind would knock some of these lads down.”
Yes, John. Curse those six year olds and their inability to ride a tackle. They should stand up like real men and take whatever unnecessary, ill-timed violence befalls them. John returns to swearing at the children and I glance down toward my watch, one of the few remaining analog components of my existence. The strap has grown worried around the edges, straining against the pressure exerted by my exponentially chubbier wrist. Ten minutes, Christ. I’ve only been here watching this shite for ten minutes. A glob of fat, translucent liquid splats against the face of my timepiece and a heavy rain begins to assault the pitch. Resentfully, I yearn for the big, ugly sun.