The Lost Trainers
Don Russell & Bart O’Shea
Grandad seems sad
Paul had retired a year ago and he was determined to keep active and live life to the full. His wife, Angela, had died several years ago and this made him grow very close to his daughter and her children.
Recently his family had noticed a change in Paul.
“Mom do you think Grandad Paul seems sad?” asked Jack.
“I think he is, and he’s got old and grumpy all of a sudden,” interrupted Mary, his twin sister who was also nine, but was born 45 minutes before her brother; as she was fond of reminding him.
“I didn’t ask you Mary!” snapped Jack.
“That’s enough, you two,” said their mum Julie.
Julie thought that this was as good a time as any to have a sensible talk with the twins.
“I’m not sure if he is sad, or lost,” she commented. “It’s a big thing to stop working. Grandad worked with lots of people for years at the car factory. He knew many of them really well as he chatted with them most days. His work friends helped him a lot when Granny passed away. They were important to him. Imagine if you stopped going to school? How much you would miss your school friends? How much time you would have on your hands? You would soon get fed up. Well it’s a bit like that for grandad now.”
Mary butted in, “But Grandad Paul goes for walks, goes to play golf, cuts his grass and he has other things to do.”
“I know what you’re saying Mary, BUT there is a difference in just doing things and doing things you enjoy,” replied their mother. “Like homework for example,” she smiled.
“Here’s Grandad Paul now,” Mary said.
Julie looked a little surprised when she opened the door. “You look hot and bothered Dad. Would you like a cup of tea?”
Paul quickly replied, “That’d be just the job.”
“Put the kettle on for your grandad, Jack,” called Julie. “What have you been up to?” she enquired.
“I’ve been playing football,” answered grandad.
Jack smirked and shouted, “What? You’re too old to play football grandad!”
“Not at all Jack. It’s called Walking Football,” said grandad enthusiastically.
“Where do you play that dad?” asked Julie.
“Beechcroft Tennis and Football Centre. It’s on the number 6 route. I heard two blokes talking about it the other day on the bus. They got off with their sports bags and I watched where they went”
Grandad paused as he took a huge sip of tea.
“I took a chance and popped down there this morning. I just took a pair of old joggers and my old trainers with me in a carrier bag. And, do you know what? It’s just what I’ve been looking for!”
So Grandad Paul told them all about it….
Back to School
When Grandad Paul arrived at Beechcroft, it felt like it was his very first day at school. He didn’t know what to do or what to expect; he worried that he would make a fool of himself!
After registering, he joined the other players. They all said, “Hello mate. Good to see you.”
When Neil (the coach and referee) started the warm up, Paul was told he had to walk backwards; it was then that he nearly tripped over the team vests that had been left lying on the ground.
He steadied himself and continued to loosen up. Neil then said, “Right leg, open the gate.”
Paul laughed to himself, how on earth is that done??
Of course, it was just one of the warm up exercises everybody had to do.
…. he nearly tripped over the team vests that had been left lying on the ground.
Neil introduced Paul to all of the lads and some of them gave him a clap. He felt nervous and excited all at the same time.
Then… it was as if Paul was transported back in time…
Everybody lined up and the teams were chosen (just like it had been at school – all those years ago).
He wondered nervously; would he be the last to be chosen? Not at all. Neil called his name and said, “Paul, non-bibs!”
What did he mean?
Paul skipped past the blue vests that were lying on the floor, avoiding tripping over them this time.
His team introduced themselves to him and he worried how he would remember everyone’s name!
One of the lads said, ”Just call me Liverpool,”- that was easy, because he was wearing a bright red Liverpool top.
Paul then thought to himself he’d never met so many blokes called Dave in all his life.
One of the Daves asked him what position he wanted to play. Paul answered, “Midfield” and then he was given the number five which meant he was going to be the fifth goalkeeper.
The game kicked off and Paul quickly got his first touch of the ball. He played a pass to one of the Daves – he didn’t know which one – and he heard Neil call out, “Good ball Paul.” He felt like a million dollars.
He was doing well, but found he was somewhat out of breath. In no time, Neil blew his whistle for half-time.
Paul’s team were losing 1-2.
The lads retired to the pavilion for a drink and a biscuit. Paul was delighted to join them.
“Well done,” said a couple of players. Paul was enjoying it.
As the second half progressed, Neil suddenly called out to Paul “RUNNING!” He hadn’t realised that the hardest thing in Walking Football was NOT to run.
He needed to concentrate more, but as hard as he tried Neil caught him again and again and then said, “Paul – Strike three – in the bin!!”
Paul laughed at himself, thinking that a man of his age could be sin binned for running!
It was great. The game ended 3-3, but Paul didn’t score. His one chance was blasted high over the bar.
He blamed his footwear, because it couldn’t possibly have been HIS lack of skill!!
Paul was hooked! Walking Football was for him.