27 Sep 2004
Allan stood over the ball, his stick raised, watching the attackers and defenders run around in circles in front of the goalkeeper and his goal. He was waiting to spy an opening through which he could launch the ball for someone to tap it into the goal. I had sauntered up from the halfway line mumbling to myself about how deplorable it was that nowadays a man could not have a stitch in peace. Just as I reached the 25 yard line Allan turned his knowledgeable head towards me and gave me a look. To many of the players on the pitch such a look would not have been understood and would have wondered off to the sidelines in disgust. However, both Allan and I have played hockey at a National level and this look spoke volumes. This is what it said:
“Hallo Bruce, how nice of you to join us up this end of the pitch. Everything OK? It’s just I was asking because I was wondering how you might feel about it if I were to push the ball into the ‘D’, hard enough to get past this malingering defender right here and timed to perfection so that you could run up and launch it into the goal. What do you reckon, old chum?”
Now I hadn’t been on the receiving end of such a look for years and so it threw me ever so slightly at first. I rallied my wits and sent back a look all of my own:
“I have to say that I am enamoured with said idea. It has the potential to open up this defence like a combine harvester would a melon. The time is now. Let’s have it!”
Allan passed the ball into the ‘D’ and directly into my path. At times like these you have the option to take a moment to stop the ball and then raise your stick for the killer blow. This method, although making the chances of an accurate shot more likely, does take time. Time in which the defenders can approach you waggling their sticks and closing you down. The quicker option is to hit the ball whilst it is still moving. Nine times out of ten you will end up in an embarrassed heap on the astro-turf with the ball off the pitch in the opposite direction to the goal. However, on Saturday my natural instinct was to rely upon my excellent hand-eye coordination and smack the living shit out of the speeding orange ball. Which I did.
There was the crack of my composite stick upon plastic ball. There was the sound of air molecules being ripped asunder by the supersonic passage of said ball, past the unseeing keeper’s head and into the top of the net. I watched the ball rocket into the goal. At this point I saw something that will live with me forever. The orange ball hit the net and as it did so all the water that was on the net exploded into a circular halo of droplets which hung motionless in the air. It was breathtaking. It was similar to the explosion that occurs after Luke has dropped his bomb into the exhaust pipe of the Death Star. Not wanting to get overly carried away I still find it easy to believe that all of creation held its breath for that split second. The whole of creation was only disturbed from its justified reverie by my erupting utterance.
Being normally such a couth young lad, public explosions of bad language are rather grating on my sensibilities. However, at this time as the wonderment of my actions became clear in my own mind, I felt the rising surge of profanity course up my spine. I could not fight it nor would I. One minute it was a consideration and then the next it was being shouted out for all and sundry to hear:
And it was. I turned to Alan and we exchanged two more looks. His indicated the acknowledgement that we had just been part of one of the greatest goals ever to be scored on any hockey pitch ever, ever, ever, and that I had done jolly well to do so well. My reciprocal look was also an acknowledgement of his vision to make the pass in the first place and also conveyed a general sense of “Kerist, how bloody good are we, eh?!”
That’s all. It was fucking sweet. It deserved this entry. I do not apologise for my arrogance one bit. It was fucking sweet, almost beyond words, you had to be there, why wasn’t someone filming it, it changed my life, cured my hay fever, introduced my future wife, painted the shed and made a little halo out of water droplets.
Thank you Sarah.