All posts by A Scotsman in Suburbia

I am not a Grumpy Old Man I am a middle aged man who occasionally gets slightly hacked off with things. My politics are greenish and to the left of centre. I am widowed. I own four bikes, one car, and no pets. I love cycling (hence four bikes) and cycle sport especially road racing. During the winter I enjoy watching football (soccer if you are North American). I sometimes paint and enjoy cooking and eating.

A Season With the Wombles Part 1.

It all started promisingly with our pre-season friendly against Watford. Our new goalkeeper George Long (on a season long loan from Sheffield United) looked like he was an excellent shot stopper and also had a prodigious boot on him. Cody McDonald our new striker scored two cracking goals and there were signs that some of our home grown players, notably Anthony Hartigan, Alfie Egan, Toby Sibbick and Egli Kaja could be pushing for first team places. Some of my predictions/hopes worked out – mainly concerning George Long, the rest well ……

As I have mentioned in other posts I started following AFC Wimbledon again last year following a four year break while Grace was being treated for Ovarian Cancer. I found that I was going to almost every match. The only ones I didn’t go to we’re the ones that I couldn’t get tickets for. So I decided to get a season ticket for this year. £340 well spent .. Possibly.

During the close season we had lost a couple of players who were fairly integral to the team. Tom Elliot (last years Player of the Year) was out of contract and although we offered him a new one, Millwall, who had just been promoted, offered him a better one. So our big lump with No. 9 on his back was gone. So to was our Duracell Bunny midfielder Jake Reeves. He wasn’t out of contract, but it turned out that there was a release clause in his contract and Bradford triggered it. Neither of them was properly replaced.

My first match proper of the season was our League Cup round 1 game against Brentford. No one expected too much from it. We have never got beyond the first round since we became a League club in 2011 (and thus eligible to enter). We did better than expected, holding then to a 1-1 draw at full time. Extra time proved our undoing with Brentford running out 3-1 winners. 

We had started our league campaign the weekend before with a creditable 1-1 draw away to Scunthorpe. The following Saturday saw us back in League action again, against Shrewsbury, the other team in League One who play in Blue and Yellow. We lost 0-1 which at the time felt extremely disappointing. In retrospect I don’t think it was quite as bad a result as I thought at the time. Shrewsbury turned out to be this year’s overachievers and have made it all the way to the playoff final. I would describe them as an efficient team. Very sound defensively, and able to nick a goal when the opportunity presents. However it was an indication of where we were going to be for much of the season. Difficult to break down, but finding it almost impossible to score. If we went behind there was the feeling that that was it, game over.

Fleetwood from the away end
Our next game against Fleetwood was my first ever away match. John and Stevie, friends I had made on one of our volunteers work weekends, go to most away games and told me that I should at least do one or two. So I decided that Fleetwood would be my introduction. The game was memorable for a couple of things. Not the football, we weren’t completely abject, but we were not very good. Fleetwood were not much better, but managed to bag a couple of goals thanks to mistakes (unfortunately becoming increasingly common) on the right side of our defence. No the two things that made it memorable were meeting a Canadian football studies researcher – I had no idea that such people existed – on Preston station while we changed trains. The other thing that made it memorable was the fish and chip shop outside the away end. They served some of the best fish and chips I have ever eaten.

That seemed to establish the pattern for the early part of the season, basically a series of disappointing losses and draws, interspersed with the occasional win to give us a bit of hope. But as every footy fan knows it is the hope that kills you.

Probably the most disappointing loss was the game I missed because of a family funeral back in Scotland. We played “The Team Who Shall Not be Named” on the evening of Friday (it probably should have been the 13th) 22nd of September. I tried to watch it on a very dodgy pirate feed whilst traveling back to London. The only two points that the feed stopped freezing were when Kwesi Appiah pulled up in their penalty area with the hamstring injury that would keep him out for most of the season, and when Lyle Taylor missed the penalty that might have gotten us back into the game. The train was stopped in Stevenage as the game ended, my thoughts were that we may well be back here next season.

Relegation was staring us in the face. I was having difficulty seeing where the next goal was coming from, let alone the next win. Our strikers were either out of form or injured, the midfield were reasonably enough defensively but we’re adding nothing going forward. On top of that I was becoming obvious that Paul Robinson, our right centre-back was playing one season to many.

To be continued…….. 

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Songs I Love: We are Wimbledon

This is not the worlds finest song (musically at least).
Thirty years ago today on the 14th of May 1988, Wimbledon FC beat Liverpool 1-0 to win the F.A. Cup, or to quote John Motson “The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club”. I wasn’t there. I was on the other side of the world (in the Solomon Islands to be precise) listening to the game on the BBC World Service very early on Sunday Morning.
This was our Cup Final song “We are Wimbledon”. We still play it, and sing it, at Kingsmeadow.

Away Day No.3 (The League Leaders)

This was my last Away Day for the season. I have been to more than three away games (ten in fact) but I only started writing about them a month ago. We (AFC Wimbledon)still have one more away match on Tuesday the first of May against Doncaster (the match that should have been played on Easter Monday) but I can’t make it due to work.

It was an early start, Wigan is a long way up the M6. We met up at Fat Boy’s for our normal pre-coach trip breakfast. Breakfast was fine but there was definitely a sense of foreboding in the air. Even Stevie our eternal glass overflowing optimist was saying things like ” If we can come away with a draw I’ll be happy.” the rest of us were more along the lines of “If we can avoid another 4-0 defeat we’ll be happy.” (They beat us 4-0 in the game at Kingsmeadow before Christmas). Wigan, who knocked Manchester City out of the cup, and are top of the league and already promoted could have tied up the title if they beat us and other results went their way. We on the other hand still needed at least two points from our last three games to be mathematically safe from relegation.

On to the coach for the five-hour trek up north. In retrospect I think we should have taken the train, and will do next time, but that won’t be for at least a couple of seasons.
We had a stop at a service station on the M6. As well as ourselves there were fans from quite a few other clubs grabbing a coffee. Brighton were traveling up to play Burnley, Portsmouth were off to Bury, and going in the opposite direction Rochdale were off to Oxford No hassle, but a bit of banter because Portsmouth and Rochdale are in the same league as ourselves. Brighton being a Premier League club just ignored us.

We arrived at the ground about one o’clock and got off the bus about one thirty because a jobsworth steward insisted that we couldn’t park in the place marked “Coaches” in big white letters. So we had another tour of the suburbs of Wigan to get to the place where we were allowed to park. Fred and Barry, who had come up by train saw the coach on its mystery tour and called us to say they were in a pub about five minutes walk from the ground so we wandered along to join them for a pre-match pint.

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The ground, The DW Stadium, was the smartest (photo above) we’ve been to this season (apart from Wembley), but then it’s not all that long ago that Wigan were a Premier League side. The ground feels a bit big for them. It was their last home game of the season and they had the chance of clinching the title, but it was still only half full. They do share the ground with the local Rugby League team the Wigan Warriors who I think tend to draw bigger crowds.

Our team selection seemed to be dictated by the players we had fit. No Wardrobes*. Three attacking midfielders and our right-footed left back to provide a bit of muscle. As Stevie said “When Harry Forrester and Dean Parratt seem to be the defensive midfield we could have problems” I’m not sure either of them can spell the word “defend”. We lined up 4-4-2 or possibly 4-1-3-2. With Callum Kennedy (who is left footed) slotting in at left back.

The game started pretty evenly. They were trying to pressure us at every opportunity, but we seemed to contain their attack reasonably comfortably and we always looked dangerous on the break. Twenty four minutes in LTB** latched on to a slight mistake by their centre back, fed The Pig*** and The Pig did score. 1-0 to the Wombles.  To be honest I had not expected that. A few minutes later we could have gone two up, but their keeper produced a brilliant finger tip save to push Dean Parratt’s shot over the bar.  They came back at us, but we were fairly comfortable in defence, and George Long was having a magnificent game in goal. The first half ended with us 1-0 up.

At the start of the second half Wigan threw everything they had at us but our defence was holding, even if there were a few heart in the mouth moments. We could have gone 2-0 up at about the 60 minute mark. Harry Forrester made a good interception just inside our half, and had a clear run to the edge of the penalty box. He had Lyle Taylor unmarked to his right and Joe Piggot unmarked to his left, but chose to try a shot instead and put it over the bar.

They equalised shortly afterwards. I thought at the time our centre back Deji Oshilaja was fouled in the build up, and having seen the video replay a few times I am even more convinced that he was, but neither the referee nor his assistants seemed to see it. I’ll embed the video, see if you agree with me.  From my point of view (admittedly biased) the referee seemed to ignore a lot of Wigan’s fouls, but gave everything against us.

There was another twenty minutes of almost constant Wigan pressure to endure, but we held out for a hard-earned draw. Possibly we could have won, but given the pressure that Wigan put us under for almost all the second half a draw was a fair result. As Stevie said at Fat Boys we came a way with a draw and we were happy. Even happier when we discovered that The Franchise (AKA Milton Keynes)**** had been relegated.

It all made for a contented trip back to South West London


*Our three defensive midfield players Tom Soares, Liam Trotter and Jimmy Abdou are collectively known as The Wardrobes, due to the perception of a certain lack of mobility among a section of our fans.
**Lyle Taylor (Baby) from the song we sing for him:
Lyle Taylor Baby, Lyle Taylor Woa oh o ( to the tune of “Don’t You Love Me Baby”).
*** Joe Piggot is (affectionately) referred to as The Pig.
**** The history of Wimbledon FC being uprooted and moved to Milton Keynes and the subsequent formation of AFC Wimbledon is well told in this Wikipedia article

Remembering Gracie -Two Years on

It was two years ago today that Gracie passed away. It is slightly strange but sometimes it feels like it happened five minutes ago and sometimes it feels as if I have been on my own for a lot longer than two years. The passage of time is relative to the observer according to Einstein. (I may be misinterpreting what he said.) What doesn’t change is my love for her and the amount that I miss her.

Two years on my life has settled down to a fairly steady rhythm. I’m no longer tempted to spend all day in my pyjamas drinking whisky (not that I ever did but for a while it felt like an appealing option. The fact that I have carried on working part time was the biggest barrier to that. Carrying on working, which was something that Grace told me I should do, has probably been the thing that has, perhaps, not quite kept me going, but given my life the structure that I need. The extra money that it brings in is useful but not essential. Most of it gets either saved or given away, though it does help to pay for the away days. Football and AFC Wimbledon have assumed an importance in my life that is larger than it really should be. But against that it has given me something to belong to, family if you like.

If it had been the other way round and I had gone and Grace had been left behind, she would have found her family in Church. I have a problem with Church, partly theological, in that I don’t believe much of what is taught any more, partly personal, in that as a widower I just don’t feel comfortable there. It is easier finding my fellowship on the terraces at a football match. That is probably more of a reflection of me and where I am at than it is of where Church is at. Actually there is one Church thing that I do enjoy. Our local Anglican Church runs this thing called Café Connect on a Monday morning. It consists of a group of people who don’t have anything much else to do on a Monday morning getting together at the Library Café for a coffee and a chat.

Another thing that I have found really helpful is a group called Way Up. It is a self help group for people who have lost their partners. There is a (closed) forum where you can ask for advice, rage against the unfairness of it all, post lousy jokes, or whatever. The great thing about it is that everybody gets it. We also have on informal local group, and about once a month we get together at a bar in Wimbledon for a drink and a bite to eat. Again I find it really helpful to be with people who are going through the same stuff that I am. Where I can be as open and as vulnerable as I want, and know that no one is judging me.

This has turned out to be a lot more about me and where I am at than it has about Grace. It is probably inevitable. Memories don’t fade away, but there are no new ones to be made. It is easier to write about the present.

The memories are always there. Our last summer, when we got Grace her e-bike so she could get out cycling again (and leave me behind on the hills). Our two and a half years in the Solomon Islands, or the time when she came to sea with me. Going across the Tasman Sea, it was a wee bit rough, but Grace decided that she would like a bath. She was in the bath when the ship dug her nose in and all the water went forward, and according to Grace, leapt out of the bath leaving her high and dry. I was on watch at the time so I missed it. Memories like that and lots more will always be with me. It is just that there won’t be any more to add to the list.
grace-ebike
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So where am I after two years? I think I am in a reasonably good place. My life is quite different to what it was when Grace was still with me, that goes almost without saying, but I do enjoy the life I have now. I think that while I will always love and miss Grace, I have made my peace with the fact that she has gone.

Life must move on. In fact, last night at the Way Up social it occurred to me, that while I am not actively looking for one, if the right girl, sorry I’m pretty sure she would be a woman, came along I wouldn’t be averse to a new relationship.

Away Day No.2 (Volunteers’ Day)

 This time we actually got to see some football. Quite a lot of football as it turned out.

Once a year the club  (AFC Wimbledon) and one of our sponsors Cherry Red Records treat the club’s volunteers to a day out. I qualify because I go along to the Work Weekends. During the summer we give the ground a good clean up and a fresh coat of paint ready for the new season. Because we are a fan owned club, and not particularly rich, we rely on people doing stuff for free that other, larger, clubs would pay contractors to do. The volunteers’ away day is a way of thanking all the people who give their time and effort to help the club out.

The day consists of coach travel to the game, a pre-match meal, and a ticket for the game. This year’s day out was to see Wimbledon take on Walsall in what could be described as a relegation six pointer. So normal away day protocols were observed, that is breakfast at Fat Boy’s before catching the coach. Then onto the coach for a zap up the M40 to Birmingham. Lunch had been arranged at Caulderfields Golf and Country Club.   who put on a very good lunch for a hundred or so of us, Having been very well fed and watered our sponsor announced that while he was still keen to support the day out it had in fact  been nine years since we had last won on Volunteers Day. So on to the match.

Walsall’s stadium is a tidy smallish place, probably about 12000 capacity but was only about one third full today.
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Pre-match predictions were fairly positive. Walsall had not been in particularly good form of late and we came into the game buoyed up by a cracking win against Charlton on Tuesday night. Six minutes in the positivity started to slip. We gave away a free kick about twenty five meters out on the right. Normally we deal with those fairly easily, but in Erhun Oztumer Walsall have probably the best dead ball player in the League. His floated free kick found the head of his player and we were 1-0 down.

We tried to get back into the game, but to be honest we looked lethargic and disjointed. Then on the stroke of half-time we gave away another goal. Our centre backs, who are normally our most reliable players, seemed to get mixed up and both left the Walsall striker for the other one to deal with. The result was he slipped through between them for an easy goal.

We were all a bit down at half time, apart from Stevie, who was predicting that we would win 3-2. However the precedents were not good. The last time  we had come from behind to win was over a year ago, and the last time we had done it away was even longer. So far this season the rule has been, if we score first we don’t lose and if the opposition score first we don’t win.

I’m not sure what was said in the dressing room, but it was effective. Within three minutes of the restart we had a goal back. Andy Barcham was tripped inside the box. Their keeper half saved the resultant penalty but Joe Piggot (Feed the Pig and he will score) was on hand to put the rebound into the net.

From then on it was all Wimbledon. Lyle Taylor hit the post, several chances scrambled away and seven hundred Wimbledon fans make far more noise than 3500 Walsall fans. Our second goal was classic old school Wimbledon. A long accurate punt upfield from our keeper George Long found Lyle Taylor who hit it first time into the back of the net. Cue minor delirium in the away end.

It was still more or less one way traffic but the decisive goal would not come. Joe Piggot was hauled down a couple of times in the penalty area for what looked like clear cut penalties, at least from where I was standing. Finally in the sixth minute of stoppage time, George Long played a ball to Lyle Taylor similar to the one that had brought about the second goal, this time though Lyle was hauled down by their defender – penalty.

Dean Parrett took the ball for the penalty, a good decision, because Lyle had hurt himself scoring his goal, and I’m not sure that he would have converted it. He placed the ball on the spot, Fred and Barry in front of me couldn’t look, took his run up and slammed it into the top left hand corner of the net.
Cue serious delirium in the away end.

Two very happy bus loads of volunteers headed back down the M40 South West London.
“It only took nine years”

A more neutral report on the match is available on the BBC Sport website

Away Day

I haven’t written very much on the blog for the past year. Possibly a good sign, in that I am beginning to get my life into some sort of order after losing Grace almost two years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I still miss her intensely and if I could I would do almost anything to have her back with me. But my life is moving on and I am learning to find my own way of living it. With that in mind I had decided to try a slightly new slant to the blog.

Football and AFC Wimbledon in particular have taken on an importance in my life that is probably greater than it really should be. However with that in mind I thought that I would start writing about the games that I attend. Starting with today’s (April 2nd) game away to Doncaster.

The day started out well. Stevie suggested that we get a train up to Doncaster about 10:30 so that we would have time to get lunch before the game. I thought that was a reasonable idea and agreed. We met as we usually do before away games at a café for breakfast this time at Rosy Lee’s in Morden, because we were getting the train. Usually we get the Club Coach and we meet at Fat Boy’s just outside Kingsmeadow. With a pretty good (but not up to Fat Boy’s standard) full English inside us we got the Tube up to Kings Cross.

We met John at the station, decided that the Leeds train looked less crowded than the Edinburgh train, so we hopped on that instead. We had decided to pay the extra £10 to get open tickets so it didn’t matter what train we caught. This turned out to be a very good decision.

There were a fair few fellow Wombles on the train, so the conversation was mainly about our prospects for today. I thought that we could come away with a point. Stevie, who is an eternal optimist, was predicting a 5-0 win for us. The others weren’t quite so confident. To be fair we haven’t had a great season and we are seriously flirting with relegation to League 2 so I fully understood where they were coming from.

It all turned out to be academic though. John got a text message from a mate saying that the game was off. He sent one back saying that he was a day late for April Fool’s day. Unfortunately after a bit of searching the BBC, Doncaster and Wimbledon web sites, we found out that it was true. The game was off due to a waterlogged pitch. After Friday’s game which resembled water polo rather than football, we wondered how bad it really was. All the other games in the area had been called off as well, so it probably was the correct decision. It left us with a decision to make as well,  what to do with the rest of the day.

Our first thought was Plan “B”.  Peterborough were playing at home so we could get off the train at Peterborough and we would at least get to see some football. This was squashed by the man in the seat in front of us who pointed out that this train did not stop in Peterborough. OK plan “C” then. We couldn’t think of a plan “C” at least  not one that suited us all. We eventually settled on plan “Z”  and caught the next train back to London.

Blessing When the World is Ending; by Jan Richardson

This was taken from my friends Paul and Sally Nash’s blog It spoke to me on a day last December when I had been remembering Grace at St Raphael’s Light Up a Life celebration.

Look, the world
is always ending
somewhere.
Somewhere
the sun has come
crashing down.
Somewhere
it has gone
completely dark.
Somewhere
it has ended
with the gun
the knife
the fist.
Somewhere
it has ended
with the slammed door
the shattered hope.
Somewhere
it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone
the television
the hospital room.
Somewhere
it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.
But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.
It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.
This blessing
will not fix you
will not mend you
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.
It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins
again.

The original post by Jan Richardson with this poem in can be found here.http://paintedprayerbook.com/2016/07/18/blessing-when-the-world-is-ending/

Have You Seen The Stars Tonight – Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship

The title of the song, just of it’s own, generates images and memories by the dozen.

When I was young I lived on a sheep farm in the hills of the Scottish Borders. There was hardly any light pollution, so on a clear moonless night the whole of the Universe was on display overhead. Being young and, I suppose overfamiliar with it, didn’t really appreciate it. Like another song says “You don’t always know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.” Now living in London where, on a good night you can make out a couple of dozen stars, I long for the dark skies of my childhood.

Later in life I went to sea for a living. Sitting on the fo’c’sle, on a warm tropical night, gazing up at the strange (to my northern eyes) stars of the Southern Hemisphere, remains one of my most cherished memories.

If you want to see the stars tonight these are the top 5 Dark Sky locations in Great Britain.

It has been a year.

A year ago today, the thirtieth of April 2016, just as the sun was setting, my beloved Grace slipped free from the boundaries of this world. Her three and a half year struggle against Ovarian Cancer was over and she was at peace. There would be no more pain and no more tears, at least not for her.

I’m still not quite sure what I felt. I think initially there was a sense of relief that it was over. Possibly as much for myself as for Grace. It is the hardest thing in the world watching the person you love die. Thanks to the wonderful care from St Raphael’s Hospice, Grace was never in any significant pain. But even so sitting beside her, reading to her, holding her hand, telling her I loved her and generally talking all sorts of rubbish, while her life force slipped away took it out of me.  So relief that that part of the journey was over, was, I think, my first emotion.

Then the tears came.

I sat with her for quite a while, crying, still holding her hand while I remembered the wonderful life we had together. After a while, probably about half an hour, it occurred to me that I had best tell the medical staff that she had gone. I pushed the call button, they came in and very gently did what they had to do. Someone got me a cup of tea. One of the nursing assistants asked me if I would like something stronger and I accepted a glass of whisky.

After I had drunk the tea and the whisky I was together enough to call the people who needed to know.

Two friends, who lived close to the hospice came round. I was grateful, but it might not have seemed that way to them at the time. They offered me a bed for the night, as did the hospice, but I knew that at some stage I would have to go back to an empty house and an empty bed, so it might as well be tonight.

I knew the house was tidy and that there was clean linen on the bed because I had done all that the week before, the day that Grace went back to St Raphael’s. After she was settled, I went back home to pick up a few bits and pieces that we had forgotten. I decided to change the bed linen and tidy the house up. I was feeling quite happy. Grace was in a safe place, where the people looking after her, unlike me, knew what they were doing. She would like the clean and tidy house when she came home…… then it hit me, Grace wouldn’t be coming home. In the whole three and a half years of hopes raised and dashed that was, for me, the worst half an hour. Worse than the day we got the diagnosis, worse than when I had to leave her when she had her surgery, worse than when the Marsden told us “Sorry , but we don’t think there is anything else we can do.”, worse even than the night she died.

Sheila and Christine gave me a lift home and reluctantly left me on my own. I poured myself another whisky and drank it. I thought about finishing the bottle, but decided that it probably wasn’t the best idea and went to bed. Tomorrow when I got up I would have to face life on my own.

That was a year ago. This past week has brought back the memories and the pain of losing Grace. The hurt and the grief are not as acute as they were a year ago. We humans are resilient creatures, we learn how to adapt. We learn to fill our lives with other things. Not, I think, to block out the grief nor to replace the missing partner. We do it to expand our horizons so that the grief and sense of loss are not the only thing in our lives.

I thought that I was going to have to face life on my own. That turned out to be wrong. Friends, family and even in their own way, the company I work for have rallied round. Little things, like asking me if I would like to go along to an exhibition or go out for a meal make me feel included. My sister flying down from Scotland they day after Grace died so I wouldn’t have to be on my own. My friend Toby volunteering to come with me when I had to register Graces death. They would probably say that it was the least they could do, but to me it meant everything.

So where am I one year on? I’m still standing. I am more and more grateful for the wonderful thirty and a bit years we had together. Memories keep popping back to make me smile, or cry, or more often both.

The current “Humus Crisis” brought back memories of the “Great Humus Disaster of 2007”. Grace decided that she would like to make her own humus. She blended the chickpeas, garlic and oil together. She removed the cover from the blender to add the tahini and inexplicably forgot to replace it before switching the blender back on again. If you look carefully at the kitchen ceiling you can still see the evidence.

I am gradually finding homes for her stuff. One of her keyboards and the PA equipment are being used by Oasis Church and the other went to friend who had moved to a new house with thin walls. Bashing away on his piano at 10 pm, he thought, might upset the new neighbours. So he now bashes away at the keyboard (with headphones). Her bike is currently transporting his daughter to and from school. I have kept her e-bike for when I am feeling lazy. I am also still pootling around in her Little Lilac Car.

I still miss Grace, I always will, but I am also seeing that I could have a life that is as wonderful as the one we had together, a very different life, but one that I can love.
On that positive note I’ll end.

I hope that today will bring back your joyful memories of Grace as well. It doesn’t matter if they come with a tear as well as a smile.

The Therapeutic Quality of Football

I have recently started to watch live football again. I did go along to watch Wimbledon before Grace became ill, but after her diagnosis, I stopped. Most Saturdays, if Grace felt well we would do something together and if she wasn’t then I didn’t like to go off and leave her for longer than it took to do the shopping.

I think I have mentioned before that this came about because my brother persuaded me to go along to watch Hibs on Christmas Eve. It is probably worth mentioning that I am a Hearts supporter (the other Edinburgh team). I enjoyed the game, and the thought occurred  that if I could enjoy watching Hibs then surely I would enjoy watching AFC Wimbledon even more. So I dusted off my old scarf, splashed out on this years replica top, and bought a ticket for the game against Oxford United on the 14th of January. Fortunately, it turned out to be a good entertaining game, with Wimbledon winning 2-1.  I have since gone along to a few more games, all of which I have enjoyed, strangely enough even the ones we lost.

I  know that football has helped me in the process of grieving. What I am trying in this post is to work out how and why.

Saturdays, especially during the winter had a tendency to drag. Because I went to working a three-day week after I turned sixty and because I normally do all the domestic stuff, shopping, washing and etc., on a Friday I don’t have much to do on a Saturday. Also on Saturdays most people (who work five days a week) are doing other things. Going to the football is an enjoyable way of filling that gap.

What I have found is that it gives me ninety minutes when the only thing that is important in the world is what is happening on the pitch. That helps. The feel good factor of winning helps as well. Strangely enough so does the disappointment of losing. Setting it against losing Grace, losing a football match doesn’t seem to be quite so important. Supporting the Wombles means that (unlike say supporting Chelsea or Celtic) losing a game doesn’t come as a surprise. I was going to say that no one dies, but as this is the twenty-eighth anniversary of the Hillsbourgh disaster we know unfortunately that occasionally this isn’t true.

AFC Wimbledon has given me something to be part of, something to love even. For that I can only be grateful. (So much so that I have invested in a season ticket for next year)