See How Far We’ve Come!

Happy New Year Everyone. Since I had my most laid back New Years in quite a while, I had some time to actually reflect on my past year. 2013 was a year full of challenges and trials.

When I say that, I don’t want you to feel bad for me. My challenges and trials are all first world problems. I never struggled to find a meal, get a roof over my head, or maintain good health. In other words, all my basic needs were bountifully met…and more! What I mean is that I spent most of 2013 confused, unsure, and in a near constant state of restless uncertainty.

Life, eh?

But, don’t worry, that’s not what I’m going to focus on in this blog. I think I’ve spent my last three or four blogs trying to make you feel bad for me and I’m sure you’re more sick of it than I am. No, today I’m looking back to see how far we’ve come; to wonder at the progress we make while we stumble along in the dark.


To begin with, I’ll share with you two moments, or rather periods, in the year that offered me clarity and a sense of peace. These were experiences that I knew were right during their occurrence. Hindsight usually gives us this clarity for most events in our life, but it is a rare and wonderful when we get a chance to live in the moment with complete certainty.

The first of these blessings, was my mission trip to St. Lucia all the way back in May. I never really wrote about it here on the blog, but to put it bluntly, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

It’s hard to sum it up, but the biggest factor, I believe,  was that I had to let go of my own selfishness. I had to let go of my own self-serving pursuits and desires, my own insecurities and failings, my own confusion and uncertainty and simply show love. Shedding that burden, so that I could be free and open to aid the needs, desires, insecurities, failings, confusion, and uncertainty of those children we were there to serve.

The best part was that I got to use soccer, the sport I love, as a starting point. It was a very important and timely reminder that soccer is a gift to me, which, like all great gifts is better shared. When you are pursuing a sport professionally it is easy to get lost in the politics; the lies, the cheating, the money, the seedy dealings, and the desire for glory. In St. Lucia, those things were stripped away and it was a gift again, a gift that offers a sense of human connection and healthy, creative interaction.

I’ll admit; however, that I am far from the perfect missionary – very far. There were 16 other people in the mission group who helped carry me along in the process. I knew one of them beforehand, but the experience brought us all together in the most incredible way. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful these people all are. It was as though each person had a role to play during the week that made them irreplaceable. If you have ever seen the Italian Job, or any of the Ocean’s movies, our group was similar to those groups involved in the big heists. Each one of us was hand-picked by the leader (aka: God) for our strengths, and in spite of our weaknesses, to do his work and share his love.

I really could go on and on here, because the more I write the more I’m reminded of how many precious blessings the trip endowed upon me. For the purpose of this post; however, the important thing is that I knew that it was right. That, alone, made it one of the highlights of my perplexing year.

Secondly, the other event that highlighted my year with a sense of assurance was my return to Virginia in September for a very close friend’s wedding.

When I left home in early July to return to the UK, I wasn’t sure where life would take me in the next few months. The process of finding a new team and eventually moving down South threw me into a bit of turmoil. If I’m honest, it was the lowest point in my time here. I had no idea what I was doing and nothing felt right. I was trying to make a mark with the new team I had just committed to, trying to find a place to live, and all sorts of other nonsense.

Then, there was a moment of clarity, and I knew I had to get back despite all the other things on my mind. I returned for a week and had a wonderful and peaceful time; not only with my friends at the wedding, but also with my family. I probably did more visiting and relaxing with friends and family in that week in September than I did in 6-7 weeks at home in the summer.

I can’t explain it, but the wedding seemed to represent a momentous shift in my life. I’ve had close friends marry before, but it didn’t have the same effect. Maybe it was the nature of my friendship with Dan? I don’t know, but it was powerful and a very memorable part of my year. I look forward to my continued friendship with Dan and Katie long into their married life!

Without a doubt, this past year, I felt the most alive during the week in St. Lucia and the week at home for that wedding. Those times alone would make a life worth living.


The best part about writing your own blog is that you can make things up. So, this next section is a look back at a few things from the past year that were relatively unremarkable at the time of happening, but with hindsight prove quite impressive…or at least offer some reassurance.

I call these the un-remarkables. It is the college student who looks back and realizes that they have already finished their freshman year. It is the builder who looks back and realizes they’ve built not just buildings, but a neighborhood. It is the doctor who looks back and realizes it’s not just about the major surgeries, which are remarkable, but also the hundreds of broken arms that he mended. It is the mother that feeds her teenage son everyday in an un-remarkable, yet loving manner, but then realizes how remarkably he has grown this past year. The un-remarkables are essentially the building blocks of our remarkable experiences!

From a soccer perspective, I look back at one unremarkable game after another (not to say I didn’t enjoy them, but they weren’t big, exciting games -making them by definition, unremarkable) and realize that I’ve already played nearly 3 times as many games half-way through this season, than I did in all of last season. So, despite no spectacular breakthroughs there has been a steady improvement on that front that I hadn’t realized.

It is unremarkable when one of my teammates gives me a ride to or from practice. My cousins inviting me over for Sunday dinner is unremarkable. It is unremarkable when one of my siblings sends me a funny email, or card. The kind wishes from a friend are unremarkable. These things are incredibly kind, generous and worthy of utmost gratitude, but usually unremarkable in everyday life. But then I look back and realize that without all these unremarkables, 2013 would have been unremarkable, but it wasn’t.

Never underestimate the power of the unremarkables!


Another one of my un-remarkables for the year is that, as a blogger, I’ve realized that I’ve written nearly a books worth of posts in the past year! A book! Really? Me? I ask?


In celebration and just for fun, I am going to briefly list my 5 favorite posts from the past year (I might cheat a little and dip into 2012). I know this post was long enough, but if you have time to breeze over them again, go ahead! From there, I would really love your feedback. If there was a post that you remember particularly enjoying, I would love to know…and maybe why? One of the most rewarding and fascinating things about writing is finding out how different people respond and relate to different ideas.

So, without further ado, here are my fabulous 5…in no particular order.

  • Chapter 1: Wraps up my first year in England: living the dream, one mistake at a time.
  • Grounds and Grounds: Frankly, I’m adding this one because my Dad always mentioned it, when complementing my writing. It’s about wandering around Yorkshire last year trying to find my feet. It is from 2012, but is a good look back at where I was and what I was doing.
  • Give a Man a Cookie…: I just really enjoyed writing this one. It may not be the best piece of writing, but kind of got me excited about writing my blog again, when I had been struggling to write it this year.
  • Politics and Fandom: This is my most controversial piece, which isn’t hard because I basically just write about myself, which is egotistical, but at least not controversial. Anyway, it was right after Obama was elected for his second term and it remarks on the some of the things that politics can learn from sports…or shouldn’t.
  • Begin Again: This was about my trip up to Edinburgh in the Spring. This post is a good reminder to me of the wonder and beauty of the traveling experience. Something I, regretfully, forget to appreciate sometimes in the midst of life.

Long may the story continue!

May 2014 be full of joy and peace for you all.

Go head first!


Dedications: This post is dedicated to my dear friends Dan and Katie Lucas as well as all the wonderful people who made the St. Lucia trip so incredible. You have truly made my year, and my life, remarkable.




A loser. That’s me. The footballer, Sean O’Reilly, is a loser.

Yea, come on, at least be relaxed!

Yea, come on, at least be relaxed!

This is not me wallowing in self-pity. This is not me trying to create a metaphor for my current status in life. This is me telling you a fact; a truth. When you lose, you are a loser.

My point exactly

My point exactly

This is good, after all, the first step is admitting that you have a problem.

The second reason that this is good is that you have to be playing to lose. So, yes, I’ve played quite a few games in the last month. Since I last touched base, I have played in 6 games with Fleet Town, the team I am currently playing with. 4 of these were regular league games and 2 were cup games.

To make a long story short; we have lost all of them.

To make that short story long; I’ll drag you through the mud, sweat and tears and give you the rundown on each game as honestly as I can manage. The Manager at Fleet Town, Craig, usually writes a few notes on the game, which I will include links to as well.

Fleet vs Bishop’s Cleeve 0-2 Loss

After the first match I played with Fleet, where we tied 0-0, things were looking up. We had stopped the bleeding from the run of losses and things seemed to be looking up. Bishop’s Cleeve is near us at the bottom of the table, so it was a realistic chance for us to get a win, especially since we were playing at home.

This was not to be the case. Things just didn’t click for us and we didn’t play well at all. They scored on either side of half-time to take all of the spoils.

Fleet vs AFC Totton: Cup Game – 3-3 at end of extra time (lost 5-3 on penalty kicks)

This game was in one of the many local cups that we compete in. If I’m honest, I don’t know much about this one, except that we aren’t in it any more. AFC Totton occupies a similar position to us in the league higher above us. This turned out to be quite an exciting game, but we were once again left wanting. I would argue that throughout we were even the better team on the day.

Testwood Stadium - Home of AFC Totton

Testwood Stadium – Home of AFC Totton

We ended up finally scoring midway through the second half with a lovely headed goal. We kept this lead until the dwindling minutes of the game, at which point Totton got a late corner kick and scored from it. The 90 minutes ended 1-1, and this sent the game into extra time, two 15 minute periods.

Totton was the first to score in the first period of extra time. We kept fighting; however, and managed to claw one back to score early in the second period. The game was at 2-2. With minutes left we then received a penalty, from a foul on the edge of box. We duly disposed this and it looked like we were set to win. But when you are down in the dumps, things just don’t go your way. They went straight down and got another corner kick. Yes, they scored it, with essentially the last kick of extra time.

They eventually went on to win 5-3 on the penalty kicks as we missed our 4th (no, thankfully it wasn’t me). A devastating loss, which we threw away twice in the final minutes.

Fleet vs Wimborne Town 1-2 Loss 

The Cuthbury - Home of Wimborne Town

The Cuthbury – Home of Wimborne Town

Despite the long, hard fought loss at Totton a few days before, we were off to a good start away to Wimborne in the league. We had chances in the first half, but came in to the break 0-0. Unfortunately, we started off the 2nd half about as poorly as possible, giving up 2 goals in the first ten minutes. Both their goals were well taken, but could have been avoided with better defending. We fought hard and managed to pull one back, but it was too little too late. We were left to rue our missed chances.

This particular pitch was incredibly slanted from one side to the other. This pic was taken with the camera horizontal.

This particular pitch was incredibly slanted. This pic was taken with the camera horizontal.

Fleet vs Clevedon Town 2-3 Loss

The Hand Stadium - Home of Clevedon Town

The Hand Stadium – Home of Clevedon Town

Once again we were on the road – on a rare Monday night game – for a winnable game against a bottom half side: Clevedon Town. We were very good in the opening minutes but lost the edge and gave up 3 first half goals. All the goals came from our own mistakes and/or lack of focus, which was all the more frustrating.  We did manage to pull one back in the first half and thus came in to the break 3-1. In the second half, we were probably the better side and proved that with another goal. Yet again, we weren’t able to dig ourselves out of the hole we had dug for ourselves.

Fleet vs Tiverton Town 0-3 Loss

I won’t say much about this game except that we were beaten soundly. They were a good side for this level and dominated most of proceedings from the get go. Their second goal, in particular, was very well created. We fought and toiled, but lost this one fair and square. These games happen from time to time, but when you are already in a slump, it’s all the more humiliating and discouraging.

Fleet vs Reading Town 0-1 Loss

After the game against Tiverton, this one was a proper slap in the face. It was in another small tournament and this time we were playing a team in the league below us. We dominated nearly the entire game, but gave up a goal in the first half which we couldn’t overturn. I’ll come right out and take the blame for this goal. I managed to completely miss-time a header, which landed at the feet of an opponent who was then free to send his teammate through on goal for the finish.

On this muddy, dreary, and wet Tuesday evening, we managed to hit the post 3 times and miss a penalty kick. We were, once again, the losers.

I don’t even have a cheeky joke or clever metaphor to help explain the situation I, and the team, are in at the moment. We are loser’s.

We’ve all heard about the “winning mentality” in sports. It’s hard to put a finger on what causes this. There is no certain set of ingredients that you can write out and put into practice that will make it magically develop. In a similar way – and it’s hard to admit – losing can also become a mentality. Not in the sense that a team or a person wants to lose, or enjoys it. It just creeps up on you and before you know it you are in a hole and at a disadvantage to all of your opponents. Again, there is no simple ingredient to fix this dilemma; you can work harder, think longer, or get angrier, but it won’t guarantee a turn around. Getting out of this hole is one of the most difficult things to do in sport and in life.

Christmas gift ideas...

Christmas gift ideas…

What I will say is that you start to learn quite a bit about yourself in such times. What you learn is not always pleasant, but it’s always worth knowing.

To put a positive spin on all this, it has been nice to play consistently. I have played every minute of every game in midfield. I finally feel like I am fully game fit and my decision making and effectiveness is getting better every game. This is, surprisingly, the longest run of games that I have played since I came over to England. It would be much better to be winning, but it’s much better to be playing than not.

After all, action begets action.

I am confident the winning will come.

On another positive note, it’s almost Christmas, which is full of joy and excitement! I will be heading up to Yorkshire for a few days to enjoy the holiday with the Inglehearn cousins, before I get right back to playing and winning – God willing!

Peace and love to you all this Christmas season!

Celebrate head first.

Until next time,



PS: Hope to get a Christmas post out next week so stay posted.

Blank Page

When the author is writing a story, he must constantly go back to the blank page and fill it in. One of my most entertaining teachers I had at St. Francis University, who referred to himself as The D-Man, had written a few books in his time – including the textbook for his class. As a fully tenured professor on the brink of retirement, he had a story or two to tell and class typically went off on a tangent or two.

One of my favorite stories that he told was about meeting President Ronald Reagan. I may get some of the little details wrong here, but it was when he was a young professor at an Ivy League school and Reagan was coming to give a speech. My teacher knew he would be meeting the president, so he began building up the moment in his mind and trying to think of what to say to show his appreciation and admiration. What came out was “Hey Ron, I’m the D-Man!”

And then he did this...

And then he did this…

Students were always trying to pick his brain for interesting stories or advice from him…or sometimes they were just trying to waste time in class. Students interested in stroking his ego and getting some brownie points (me) would ask him about his books. This was a topic he was always happy to talk about. It’s nothing he said about his books specifically that stuck with me, but rather what he said about writing a book. He said something to the effect of “you come to the page and you write one word, and then another, and then another…and then you do that again”.

I am doing what you might call a creativity program with my sister, Clare, called “The Artist’s Way”. Similar to what the D-Man said, the Artist’s Way stresses “showing up at the page”. Whether you are a writer, a poet, a painter, a screenwriter, designer, musician, etc… you have to be willing to show up at the page or the canvas and let yourself fill it.

I have the chance to “show up at the virtual page” every time that I write a new blog. What I find in the process is that I show up with a general idea of what I’ll write, but then the post takes on a life of it’s own. Then, when it’s finished, I sometimes sit back and say “Wow, where did all those ideas come from?”

For instance, I remember one of my posts from last year called “The Missing Ball“. I came to the page planning on writing little update about how I had lost a ball while training and ended up writing quite a bit about No-Shave November…and the humility I suffer from my lack of ability to participate in it. Like untended facial hair, a blog can often take on a life of it’s own as well.

Not acceptable

Not acceptable

Getting out on the field and playing soccer is an incredibly similar process. The pitch is the blank canvas, the empty page. You have to take the chance to show up. Then the game takes on a form of its own and you get to impress your unique talents upon the outcome. The more pages you fill, the more comfortable you get with the process and the more you can develop and improve. It’s when you don’t get the chance show up on the page when things get frustrating.

So, after being back at Hungerford Town for the last few weeks, I did get the chance to play in two games. In the first game, in a single elimination tournament, we played a team a league below called Bishop’s Cleeve. I played for about the last 25 minutes and did quite well, although we had already essentially won the game when I entered the match at 3-0. I played on the right wing and nearly got a goal. We won the game 4-0 in the end in a comfortable performance. It was nice to get a run out since I hadn’t played for a few weeks since my return from the Thatcham Town loan which I mentioned.

The next game, we played in another local Cup/Tournament against a team in a lower division called Whitchurch United FC. I got to play 90 minutes in central midfield and did well. We ended up dominating and winning the game, but we only managed to score 1 on the night. It felt good to get a full game. I was able to successfully fill the canvas, but not having played a complete game in a while, it wasn’t my most fluent and impressive display.

Having only had these two opportunities to play and signs of more chances on the horizon, despite solid performances, I requested to go back out on loan. I really need to get a significant stretch of games to find some consistent form and rhythm in my game. I need more chances to show up at the page and improve my confidence and my ability to influence and dictate the pages that I play a part in. At this point, If I’m not getting the chance to even show up, then I won’t get anywhere.

Therefore, I’m back out on loan at a club in the division below called Fleet Town FC. So far they have really been struggling this season. They are second to last in their league and haven’t won in about two months, so my work was cut out for me. It was an exciting and yet difficult challenge to try to help them get their season back on track. My first game with them was last Saturday. We ended up tying 0-0 against a mid-table side called Evesham United. I played full 90 minutes and if the game was a piece of music, it would have resembled a heavy metal rave, rather than a classical concerto. In other words, it was a bit of a battle and far from the prettiest, most technical game I’ve played in.

Calthorpe Park - Home of Fleet Town FC. The slope on this pitch from end to end is so drastic that it effects tactics considerably.

Calthorpe Park – Home of Fleet Town FC. The slope on this pitch from end to end is so drastic that it effects tactics considerably.

While it was a good start, seeing as we didn’t lose, I know that personally I have much more to offer and I’m looking forward to the next game! I’ve recently come to enjoy, and even crave, coming back to the blank page and impressing myself upon whatever unfolds. So, now I have an itch to walk out onto the pitch again as soon as possible and to take one stride at a time, just as the artist takes one stroke at a time. In this way, I will consistently create new work and eventually, I will have my masterpiece.

Until next time, don’t be afraid to face the blank page. Write a word and you are on your way.



Give a man a Cookie…

A wise man once said that the way to a man’s heart it through his stomach.

Another wise man once said give a man a cookie and keep him happy for a minute, teach a man to cookie and keep him happy forever. This man was apparently so busy being wise, that he didn’t have time to write his name down for our admiration.

One day, I had an intense craving for a nice warm homemade chocolate chip cookie (yes ladies, sometimes us guys need a chocolate fix too) and since none of my lovely sisters were around to oblige me, I was very unhappy. Let’s face it, none of us want to be unhappy. This, of course, meant that I had to learn how to make them. So, I emailed home with the urgent subject line “TEACH ME HOW TO COOKIE!?”

Apparently, there is actually a cookie dance! Amazing what you can find on the internet these days:

My kind sister Mary was nice enough to send me the complete idiots guide to baking cookies. What I essentially learned is that cookies are so good because they are basically made up of sugar, butter and as many chocolate chips as you see fit…surprise, surprise!

Now, whether it’s driving or putting together a piece of furniture from Ikea, we all know that men are often too stubborn to ask for or follow directions. I am certainly more than guilty of this…and proud of it. On the other hand, our female counterparts, often find it easier to ask for or follow directions without hurting their pride.

Sounds about right

Sounds about right

I’ve noticed; however, all this turns on it’s head when it comes to baking/cooking. I am lost, scared, and hopeless without some recipe or directions to follow, whereas, my sisters and my mom seem to effortlessly whip up all sorts of delicious goodness without a single guideline.

Inevitably, after living on my own, I’ve gotten fed up (no pun intended) with frozen pizzas, pasta, and bacon, so I’ve tried to make some improvements on my cuisine. I’m happy to say improvements are being very slowly made…or, in other words, I can now eat what I cook.

Despite the little I’ve come to learn about cooking and baking, I’ve realized that it’s not an exact art – even on one of those really brutal cooking shows, like Top Chef. Sure, there are general guidelines given to provide a certain structure to the competition, but even with all the same ingredients, the cooks come up with wonderfully varied dishes.

Once you get to now the general patterns in food, then you can experiment and develop different things from there. It’s just like colors. There are a few primary set’s of colors that all artists draw from and mix together to create a huge amount of other colors and tints to please the eye. It’s about knowing which colors go together to make new and exciting colors and, likewise, which foods and tastes go together to create new and exciting dishes to please the palate.

This makes me think that more men would be willing to cook if they knew they didn’t have to ask for directions!

Do you want to know what else cooking is like? Yes, you guessed it: soccer. There are a few ingredients and basic principles that give a backbone to the entire sport. The “staple foods”, so to speak, which include things like players, a ball, goals, etc…. Out of those staples of the game come an endless number of outcomes; different formations, different styles and so on. Hundreds of thousands of unique players throughout the game, mixed together to make thousands of teams; each with their own special flavor.

Spain has it’s “Tiki Taka” quick passing game that simultaneously dulls and tires the opponent until the opening presents itself and they pounce at just the right moment with a clinical execution and finish.

Classic Tiki Taka in the video below:

Germany has recently developed it’s game into a high pressing, energetic and exciting brand of football; with the purpose of overpowering the opponent with constant surges of pressure and precision. How distinctly German.

English football is known for it’s relentless pace, energy, and physicality and it’s inability to score penalty kicks when it really matters.

Brazil are historically notorious for using their wonderful flair and trickery to beat the opponent. The coined the term Joga Bonito after all (The beautiful game). They, along with many of the South American countries, are also streetwise footballers, meaning that they find clever ways to bend the rules as well. This is actually meant to be a compliment not a criticism.

It’s a pleasure to watch:

In the past, Italy was famous for it’s “Catenaccio” football, which focused on defending strongly at all costs. Nowadays, these tactic are lauded as boring and “anti-football” by purists, but the value of a strong defensive unit is invaluable in modern football, nonetheless.

All these are different versions of the same game, with the same ingredients and the same guidelines. Maybe that’s why we like sport so much, because just like painting, cooking, or writing it is an art form with an infinite number of possible outcomes. We are entranced with the variety of these outcomes and can be inspired by them as well. I guess that’s why we call it the beautiful game.

Clearly, the next logical conclusion to make here is that great managers/coaches are essentially great Chefs. Try telling that to the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson or Pep Guardiola, current manager of Bayern Munich, who are considered by many the best club team in the world. They might take as a complement of course, but they would probably miss the point.

SEE! I told you he was a great Chef

SEE! I told you he was a great Chef

What they are good at; however, is being able to mix the right ingredients together in the form of players and tactics. The reason it can be so hard to do is that sometimes ingredients have a bad attitude and talk back – imagine if that happened in the kitchen!

On the other side of the coin, as a player, you want to become an ingredient that can make any dish a bit better…you know, like bacon. Every player wants to be the bacon on the team. The bacon is more often than not, the MVP. The guy that stands out. However, you can’t have a team with just bacon and the best chefs know that. You also need those players that are the steak, the potatoes, and the greens. The standard and foundation to a team, the core. These players are a constant and rarely hurt the team, whereas, we all know that bacon is not always good for you.

Well, that’s Cooking for Soccer 101 in a nutshell. I hope it provided you with some enlightenment about the beautiful game and some of it’s intricacies.

I’ll admit there’s a bit of a stereotype here as well, because I know there are plenty of wonderful male chefs. I just happen to know far more who are not.

The important thing; however, is that you all know that I can now make myself a mean Chocolate Chip Cookie. I still won’t invite you over for the main course, but you’re welcome to dessert.

The proof is in the pudding

The proof is in the pudding

Until the next meal, go head first.



The Light Side

I apologize if you read the title to this post and immediately thought “oh yes, the opposite of the Dark Side. Why is he going to write about Star Wars”. Well, I’m not. Although, now that I have said that, I remember just the other day seeing that there has been an official date announced for the movie release of the 7th installment of the epic Star Wars series.



I don’t remember the date exactly, but it’s irrelevant to the conversation we are about to have here.

This announcement has me a little bit excited, I must admit. I’ll even go so far as to say, it’s given me A New Hope.

Why, you ask? Well, it can’t get any worse, can it? I think we can all agree, that the last couple of films weren’t quite up to snuff; particularly when compared to the epic original trilogy…and to some critics that might be putting it lightly. So, as they say, “it can only go up from here!” This is such a great positive way of thinking isn’t it. Typical glass half full mentality. Move past being ashamed and get on with it.

Things often happen when playing football that can be quite similar. Moments where you can only smile and laugh at the situation. Moments where The Empire Strikes Back, so to speak (alright maybe that’s a stretch, but it will get worse before it get’s better). These moments are what we will refer to here as The Light Side.

The classic light side example is what I have come to know as The Sniper. Essentially, what happens is that the someone is running at a gallop all alone and they proceed to trip and fall over – usually to the delight of all, but particularly the delight any opposing fans who might be around. It is quite comical, especially when performed to a high standard. It’s as though…wait for it…someone used the force to make them trip. And, of course, for those of you who don’t believe in the force, the sniper imagery works well too (minus the gore – usually).

Look, we all know that it’s funny until someone get’s hurt, then it’s hilarious! Well, that is sometimes true in footie as well. It’s terrible to say, but sometimes you can’t help but laugh when a guy gets hit in his groin area. This sounds so bad, I know, but I promise I only laugh as I’m running over to check he’s going to be alright. Once I was playing and the same guy was on the receiving end of this cruel punishment twice in the matter of 10 minutes. He had only just recovered and returned to the game! It was, indeed, an unfortunate case of The Return of the Jedi (I warned you it would get worse).

There are also crunching tackles that at times send someone flying, especially smaller players…like myself. This is sometimes called getting “bodied”, or “weighted”, and more often that not leads to shouts and jibes of the “Get in the gym!” variety. Vain attempts at trickery can also be met with the inevitable shouts of glee and abuse! I once had a teammate go for a flying overhead kick, which he missed terribly and proceeded to fall awkwardly on his head. It looked bad, but after our immediate concerns were alleviated, the laughter commenced and we didn’t let him forget it for quite a while.

Miss-kicks, in general, are very common Light Side moments. Whether it’s someone missing the ball completely, or someone hitting a shot so poorly that a it goes out on the sideline rather than the end line, these events are always met with jibes from all quarters. The equipment can even play it’s role in providing a laugh at times. I’ve seen people – and, in some cases, been the guy – who get caught in nets, run into posts, slips on cones, or pokes themselves with a corner flag.

In one training session, a team of mine was using these training poles as markers. The poles are about 4-5 feet tall and can be used for just about anything from a goal to field markers. On this particular day, we were using them as opponents for a shooting drill. We essentially had to touch the ball around these poles and have a shot. In a matter of 15 minutes, we had broken three of them! After the first two broke the manager was getting annoyed and questioned our clumsiness, but when someone stepped back onto and broke a third minutes later, no one could avoid a good laugh.

Although there are special cases where it is in fact the human.

The Phantom Menace that haunts all players in the game, is the own goal. There are two types of own goals. Those that are clearly incidental (for instance, a shot that is going wide deflects off of a defender’s body to go in) and those that appear intentional. One day in training we were working on our free kicks; one team attacking and one defending. On one of the plays the ball came loose and one of the defenders emphatically smashed the ball home into the goal, and raised his fist triumphantly. We all looked at him as if he were crazy and the bewildered and irritated coach asked him what the hell he was doing? He legitimately thought he was on the attacking team. Yea, maybe the Attack of the Clowns!

After the coach berated him for his lack of focus, we all had a good laugh at him and will enjoy chatting about that moment for years to come!

Pardon the slight overuse of Youtube on this particular post, but the plethora of ridiculous videos is too easy to get my hands on and so amusing. Little bloopers like this happen quite often on the field, sometimes they are caught on camera, and other times they aren’t. Frequently, they are “had to be there” moments, so I apologize if that is the case for some of my stories here.

The main point; however, is that there is plenty to laugh about despite all the Dark Sides of football. Kind of just like life, I guess. If you can’t appreciate these moments, then chances are you’ll be a pretty miserable person.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to sneak in the last Star Wars title into my post, so here you are: “Revenge of the Sith”!

Had to fit that in somewhere.

All the best, and don’t forget to appreciate the light side of life.

Peace, Sean Solo.