”It is a day when mothers worry about colds, fathers worry about losing… happy to be there…whatever the weather.”
The team races from the dressing room with grimacing faces and shoulders dropped against the wind. Mud squelches, grass turns muddy brown in the steely rain. The ball is drenched and heavy, the thud of contact is a cold unmerciful sound .Passes are called, shots skewed, injuries suffered, wills hardened. Supporters cheer and moan. They summon a passion in the players hiding momentary despair with varying degrees of success, betraying it with the odd expletive. The game proceeds. The scores ebb and flow. When success looks like a long shot, the heroes stand to be counted. Never mind the prize, pride is at stake here, it’s not over until it’s over.
A long pass is caught and held up. The roar of the wind muffles the roar of the crowd. Defenders pull and drag, desperation draws a foul and a free kick in the final minute. A desolate stage is set for one final act..
A player steps forward and places the ball with quiet calm. Time barely ticks, breathing ceases, silence falls. Luck covers its hand as pressure mounts and mounts. We wait. The free taker shakes his shoulders, steadies and glides over the sea of mud. Thud !, the ball rises like a slow torpedo against the howling wind. The slow seconds pitch hope against reason in the gale. Are we dreaming ?. As the ball drifts towards the crossbar incredulity steals many heartbeats, breathing ceases in the dizzying wait.
Yeeessssss they’ve done it !. In the ensuing stampede sweet tears wash away the drops of bitter rain on grown men’s faces. Families jump in joy and celebration, happy to be there on days like these whatever the weather.
We will remember this day as surely we remember where we were when Kennedy was shot or Elvis died. To our small community this is sporting history.