Balls, balls, balls.
Round balls, tiny white balls, slightly oval balls, yellow balls, red balls and not to forget big wet balls, usually sponsored by Umbro.
All of these balls I have had a love/hate relationship with since the start of my career in journalism.
It’s just where balls are concerned, I am not considered an expert.
I was barely a trainee reporter when it was decided, possibly when I asked what a ‘skipper’ was, that I am not sport-inclined. (It’s not just a bloke on a boat, apparently)
News, crime, features, politics – no problem.
Games involving round objects, or where people hit each other or run really fast, it was officially decreed I was best left out of it.
Of course, the reality was, because I knew nothing much about football – and this is England – I was written off as ‘non-sporty’ by fellow journalists who knew better.
Okay, there was a tiny bit of justification for this opinion, I grant you.
Like, the time I met – and failed to recognise – Alan Shearer and Kenny Dalglish for one.
When I was asked to count Preston North End corners from the press box and I confirmed there were four, obviously.
And my statement in
the newsroom that ‘David Beckham does good kicks’ gained me a fair amount of ridicule. (Though 100% accurate, I would argue.) To be fair, I was shamed by a senior exec and my own reporter at Morecambe FC only last week when I called a replica shirt a ‘t-shirt’ (which it is..)
But not sporty?
As a person who only jumped out of the competitive swimming pool at age 23 after a career competing across the country and further afield at the national level, it rankles a little, I can’t lie.
To be called non-sporty by people who spent Saturday nights in watching football on TV while I was swimming training – or kicking a ball about on Sunday while I worked on my secondary career as a competitive gymnast – is annoying.
But even after 15 years as a journalist, and becoming acquainted with a number of football clubs, managers and players in this time, I admit I am not an expert on that particular sport, or any of the other ball-shaped ones.
I really enjoy watching football, golf seems pleasant and cricket looks lovely, but in a pub quiz I would fail to impress.
I will never know the off-side rule, what a skipper is, or be able to reel off football stats or jargon. There will always be just the four corners.
But give me a pool, some lane ropes and a starting pistol – and you’ll not see me for dust.
What a load of balls.