FOOTY question for you: Who was the last player to score a goal at the Leazes End at St James’s Park ... wearing glasses?
Edgar Davids maybe? Nope. Struggling? Well, it was Richard Ord. No, not the former Sunderland player, but me!
It’s my claim to fame. Or, at least, it’s the dubious claim to fame I tell my kids.
While the fact hasn’t been ratified by the Football Association, and is never likely to be, I’m prepared to stand by it. If there has been another person score a goal at St James’s in specs, I’ve yet to hear about it.
As you might guess, I wasn’t playing professionally. For a relatively large fee, you can play football at Newcastle’s home ground at the end of the season. I played there – in glasses – and scored.
The game was captured on video. Unfortunately, the goal was not. “The battery was running low, so I stopped the video to save power,” I was told. It’s no bad thing. It means I can exaggerate the goal.
My celebration, however, was captured on camera. It summed up the standard of football on display. I ran, arms aloft, did a forward roll and, because I had so little momentum, rolled back again. I then had to be helped up off the ground.
I mention this because football is a big part of my life. Not, I hasten to add, particularly by choice. I manage a children’s football team.
When the last two coaches quit, the parents were asked to step forward if they wanted the job. I stood firm, unfortunately the rest took a step back!
Thanks to my footballing brain, the Whitley Coast Soccer under-9s are now record breakers.
Our first game of the season was a 21-goal thriller. When I say it was a thriller, it was certainly a thrill for the opposition to watch all 21 goals fly into our net. As one wag commented, we were lucky to get nil.
I was tempted to report the opposition to the league for failing to strictly observe the league rules. It was a seven a side game, yet at one point there were 16 players on the pitch. I thought better of it. Particularly as the extra two players were playing on our side. Nine vs seven and we still got stuffed. The only way was up from that point, and within a few weeks we went on a run that put the team (and, by association, the manager) in the Coast Soccer record books.
Winning is great, but there’s a school of thought that you learn more in defeat than you ever do in victory. That being the case, it was a season in which we learned a hell of a lot. We went on a run of 17 straight defeats.
Come the 18th game, against the league leaders, and missing two of our players, we managed to keep our first clean sheet of the season.
Not only that, we managed to win. Brilliant. Football is a funny old game, isn’t it? It was, as it turns out, also the first game I missed. Read into that what you will. We managed to scrape a few more wins after that to save face.
The presentation evening was interesting.
How many other football teams can legitimately award their Golden Boot award for the top scorer to ‘own goals’?
As many wives will understand, the season may end, but football never does. No sooner has the season finished than the trials begin.
Not an easy time for parents, players or managers. Which club you trialling for? Who’s in? Who’s out? What position you going for? Will we have enough players to form a team. The uncertainty is stressful.
Having my own son debating which team he is going to try to get into for next season is a bit of a blow to confidence, too.
We must be the only club where the manager has to regretfully inform players after trials that “unfortunately, son, you’re IN the team.”
The 17-game losing streak is a claim to fame I don’t really want on my CV. For that reason I promised the boys we’d do better next season.
What worried me was, I’m sure I heard a couple of the players say they were confident they could do 18 if they tried hard enough.
* Got a footballing claim to fame? Drop Richard a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at the usual address. Alternatively, message him on Twitter @DickyO. The best answers will be copied and pasted into the paper to free him up to work on team tactics.