Sean and soccer

[In Ireland we tend to use the term ‘soccer’ to distinguish that sport from Gaelic football.]

We used to kick a ball around with Sean from the time he could walk. When he was about six we took him to a local club in Dublin (Leicester Celtic, where Damien Duff started) to play in a seven-a-side league on all-weather pitches. I remember that Sean played for a team called Albion.

At the time of the 1998 World Cup Sean was approaching his seventh birthday, and we were in the process of moving from Dublin to Cavan. Sean became infatuated with Brazil (encouraged by me), and sobbed bitterly for the last 20 minutes of the final as it became clear that they would lose to France.

He took an interest in the English club scene and, not surprisingly, began to follow Man Utd. He was thrilled with their late come-back against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final, and ran around our rented house whooping with joy (which I didn’t share). Later he switched to supporting Arsenal (like me) simply because they played such attractive football. His footballing heroes were people like Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Zinedine Zidane and Roberto Carlos.

Each summer we used to play a lot of soccer on our lawn – we bought two sets of goalposts with nets. Sean would organize the games, and would call to neighbours’ houses to try to make up the numbers. Everyone available would be enlisted – girls, boys, women or men. At other times Sean and I would stand at each end and take shots at each other. We also played a frenetic one-v.-one brand of football on our patio.

Sean didn’t play for proper teams as much as he would have liked. He was involved from time to time with a club near Virginia but had other commitments, especially rugby. He played for his school soccer team in his last year of school; he appears in the team photo in the yearbook. He liked to play soccer in the yard after school, with other boys and teachers.

On holidays in Majorca, Sean and I played Astroturf football with other holiday-makers in the baking sun. Last year we began to play regular five-a-side matches on the local Astroturf pitch, once or twice a week, with a group of men and boys mainly around Sean’s age (I was by far the oldest regular). In the car on the way, Sean used to stop whatever music was playing and put on something that he thought would get us ‘pumped up’, such as AC/DC. I don’t think it worked for me.

Those games, with Gary, Nigel, Craig, John, Jamie, Simey, Brian, Tommy, Paul, James, Mark, Stephen K, Stephen S, Terry, Brendan, Andy and many others, over the course of a few months, were fantastic fun while they lasted … fast and competitive. Sean and I always seemed to be on opposing sides. I eventually got injured and Sean moved to an apartment in Cavan town; the scene fizzled out.

There was no football on our lawn this summer … the players we had on those happy, sweaty, laughter-filled summer nights have grown up or moved on. The goalposts no longer have nets; they are battered and stand facing randomly on the lawn. At one end, the dry-stone wall I built was weakened badly in places from years of football-related abuse and, as I mentioned, partly collapsed a month or so ago.

As the late Bob Marley sang in one of Sean’s favourite songs, everything has changed … nothing remains the same.

Sean with his Albion team-mates

Sean with soccer medal

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16 Comments

Filed under Memories, Sport

16 responses to “Sean and soccer

  1. I started reading it with a smile, and thought, “starting young” means something else in Turkey. Then your last para erased all.
    Then I recall, “the best joy of heavens residents is to talk about the memories, sitting on the armchairs made of light”. The memory is a sign of it.

  2. When I came back to England from Australia everyone (i.e all the lads at school) was footie mad. Teams were the thing. Whom should I support? “Arsenal is the big one”. I liked it as it had an artillery piece as its emblem. I stopped going in the late 70s when it was just scum from the NF/BNP there. I “converted” to Bristol Rovers. Sean was evidently a great sportsman.

    • He certainly liked his sport. He had a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of players in Europe from playing his FIFA computer game.

      We had many heated arguments over football … he was anti-Spain in the World Cup, for instance; he thought their style of play was tedious.

  3. But Sean was fair, I am sure. Computer footie? Don’t talk to me about it – when I was with Liz her kid “fouled” me. In the World Cup too!

  4. Marya

    Hello Brendan …. I love this ‘action shot’ of Sean .. it radiates with all the happiness and fun you and Pauline gave him.

    Marya x

  5. When my son was born, the world changed for me. I could not see the people like the way before. Whenever I got cross with someone inevitably I thought of his/her baby form.

    You mentioned “changed world” the other day, on Myt. It struck me, Brendan.

  6. So sweet, Brendano. A joy. You will always have these lovely memories. Keep talking about him and remembering.

  7. Tommy Brady

    Hi Brendan

    I was one of the guys that played the astro in Boylans with you & sean, always enjoyed the high tempo games that you referred to & just to echo Janh1 comments re the lovely memories
    also really admire the Page, lovely sentiment

    • Hi Tommy … it’s great to see you. For some reason I forgot to mention you here; I have added your name now. You were certainly one of the best … I think I pulled a muscle chasing after you. You scored a ridiculous number of goals. 🙂

      Thank you so much for the kind words … it means a lot. The whole community has been great to us. I’m sure I’ll see you soon in the pub or elsewhere!

  8. Tommy Brady

    God ive gotten very unfit since playing the Soccer, wouldnt score them now 🙂
    Keep the Chin up, im glad to have visited such a thoughtful page for Sean
    well have a Pint in Boylans some night hopefully & maybe get back into the soccer in the new year

    • Sounds good, Tommy … I’m not sure the leg would stand up to more soccer with you guys, but there’s only one way to find out. 🙂

      We’ll definitely have that pint. Thanks again for commenting.

  9. Tommy Brady

    Thanks Brendan

    I look forward to having a pint with you some night and hopefully well all get back into the soccer in the new year,

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