They say you don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing.
Turns out that while running (slowly) 13-and-a-bit miles from Newcastle to South Shields doesn’t present too many problems to yours truly, playing a friendly game of football with a bunch of lads who aren’t quite as young as they used to be ends with crippling back pain and visit to a physiotherapist. It was all going so well for the first 30 minutes.
The running around wasn’t the problem, kicking the ball in a straight line was more so. But hey, fresh air and a bit of exercise, who can grumble at that? Then BANG! I leant into a tackle, the other lad skipped away with the ball at his feet, I landed on my back and the momentum sent my legs cartwheeling over my shoulders, something stretched that doesn’t like being stretched and I ended up of my front, at first seeing stars until everything went grey.
So there’s two choices. 1. Stop playing immediately and seek medical attention. 2. Try and run it off because you don’t want to leave the lads a man short. We all know the answer here, so after a hard-fought victory I inched back into the car and drove home in agony.
If you trip over a loose bit of pavement and rick your back, friends and family treat you with the reverence of an all-conquering war hero.
But if you get injured playing sport then, and I quote, “It’s your own stupid fault for playing. Why do you want to go chasing a stupid football at your age?” Oh I dunno, because it’s fun and it makes you feel truly alive. While you’re out there all life’s problems melt away while at the same time you’re staying fit and healthy. Something like that.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. Not at all. The three-line whip arrived from the boss the next day to say that while I was at it I should stop walking round dressed like an overgrown student. The Stone Roses tour T-shirts, jeans with the a*** hanging out of them and bright red adidas trainers had to go.
You’re not 19 forever pull yourself together, as the song goes. So we spent a joyless Saturday afternoon shopping for grown-up clothes while surrounded by other people’s shrieking brats, saying “Yes I’ll have it” to the first thing I was handed in every shop.