Frozen football and Flying Fish

Both of you who’ve followed the blog voted 57 millionth best in the world, and, a survey of top bloggers said ‘Never heard of it’, will know I support a football team called Queen of the South. I don’t remember my first game, but, am told my Uncle Keith took me to see them when i was six. I’m nowhere near as dedicated as some Queens fans in attending games, but I’ve followed them throughout my life and given many many hours of my own time to help them over the years.

Going to see them has brought joy, tears and even a trip to Denmark to watch them play in the UEFA Cup, something no Queens fan would EVER would have predicted would happen. I’ve been to most grounds to see them, as far north as Inverness and Peterhead, across to Northern Ireland to see them play Coleraine and as far south as Wales to see them play Chester.

Through the years I’ve had some funny, and some less funny episodes, following the South across hill and dale……….

QOS team 76/77 season
QOS team 76/77 season

One of my earliest memories was when i was a teenager. My friend Andy and I were standing on the Terregles St terracing. We were playing Arbroath, probably in the lowest division at the time. It was freeeeezing……foggy…….and I was beginning to question my sanity. I mean we’d actually paid money to stand like an ice lolly eating stodgy pies, that would come back to haunt us in our elderly years. The game was hopeless, I’d lost the feeling in my feet, hands and other essential extremities. It was not a good night for the fairweather supporter. Still, come the 90th minute Andy & I still stood there watching, waiting, anticipating. Something could still happen. At any second…..any moment….I turned to Andy…..

‘Well, at least we got a point……’

It was just then the blonde head of Ian Yule received the ball on the left wing (apologies to Queens fans with better memories but this is how i remember it 🙂 ). The Arbroath player danced past at least three Queens players before hitting the back of the net. We kicked off, the final whistle went, game over, we’d lost 1-0.

Still frozen to the spot, Andy and I turned to each other and both said at the same time….

‘That’s it. We’ll no be back…..’ 🙂

As with most football fans, by the next home game, hope had raised eternal. We were back on the terracing, praying we’d see a nine goal thriller of end to end football with Queens coming out on top.

A lot of the funny things that happen in football, happen away from the match itself. I went to Greenock once to see Queens play Morton in a First Division game. Our minibus set off from outside the New Bazaar pub on a dull but dry day to make the eighty or so mile journey northward.
We arrived at a nice pub and I ordered beer battered fish and chips (it was during my ‘healthy eating’ stage ). It duly arrived, served by a lovely lady shouting above the din ‘TWO FISH AND CHIPS’.
I acknowledged her, switching my pint of lager to my left hand and moved towards her. I accepted the plate in my right hand and turned…………
You know that trick where magicians pull the tablecloth leaving all the cutlery and decorations still on the table? Well, I did a variation on the theme. As I turned with the plate in my hand, the greasy fish and chips decided not to come with us. The plate and I were at Longitude 65.3 Latitude 132.4 and the Fish and chips were hanging in the air at Longitude 65.3 and a bit. Despite being well cooked, they seemed to be frozen in midair, before the Laws of Physics took over and the whole lot crashed to the floor.

My dinner avec soggy lettuce
My dinner avec soggy lettuce

I looked down at the fish and chips, they looked up at me. I looked at my empty plate, it looked the other way. At this point you would have expected my loyal Queens supporters to rally round and have oodles of sympathy for my greasy plight. Instead a loud cheer went up, followed by raucous laughter and singing. I stood, centre stage, with full on petted lip, still holding my lager and a now bloody annoying white plate (actually i think the compulsory bit of soggy lettuce that you always leave was still clinging on). I sat down with my pint and hoped someone else would have a calamity to take the attention away from me.

As the minutes past and everyone returned to talking about space time continuums and multiverses , there were a couple of ‘that’s a shame Dave’ comments generally followed by slight sniggering. It was then that my faith in humanity was restored. The woman who’d served me, returned asking ‘Where’s the boy who lost his chips?’. Every hand in the pub pointed towards me.

Morton QOS at Cappielow
Morton QOS at Cappielow

‘Here son….’

She laid a fresh plate of beer battered cod and chips with compulsory soggy lettuce leaf, in front of me. Another, but subtly different, loud cheer went up, followed by some clapping. I went to give her more money….

‘Free of charge son. Hope you enjoy it….’

I could have cuddled her. My faith in humanity restored, i waded in, happy in the knowledge, there were some nice people in the world.

The game against Morton? I can’t remember 🙂

‘Football Magic’ was brought to you by David Linden and Dod Productions © 2015 follow me on Twitter @qosfc1919 and write to me at davidlinden4@gmail.com

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#Soccershorts The Blind Goalscorer

With the World Cup in full swing, I thought it would be ok to keep the football/soccer theme going. 😊 Last week I wrote the story of the greatest goal I’ve ever scored. No, not in the World Cup Final, nor the final of the Champions League, but a friendly match against the Farmers Inn pub team 🙂 I started thinking about other ‘funny’ or important footballing events in my amateur footballing, non trophy winning life, that might be worth writing about. One thing that does ‘gripe’ me about my footballing lack of career, is I never won a medal. Not one, never ever 😥 This might not seem that important. I’m sure many people play sports and never win anything. However, you do not know how many games of football I played.

From the minute i got home from school until it got dark I played bloody football. If there were loads of us, we went to the Valley, a natural ‘amphitheatre’ to play a game, if there were 4, we’d play in the drying green in front of the flats, much to the annoyance of anyone who had washing out. If there were only two of us we’d play kerby on the road. It wasn’t as if there were not other things to do. Between the flats and the school there were large fields with trees, bushes and a burn. We’d build camps there and play ‘jump the burn’ which usually had the inevitable outcome. I remember us playing hide and seek with more than 20 kids divided into 2 teams, taking hours through to darkness to finish a game. It was football though that dominated my childhood. I can’t remember anyone who didn’t play it. Morning, noon and night. The only time football stopped was during Wimbledon, when we’d draw a tennis court in front of the garages and, without a net, for a fortnight, play tennis until the light faded. This was fine until the first time I played tennis on a proper court, upon which I duly hit the net about a thousand times. 🙂 Anyway, enough droning on about my childhood. I’m here to make you smile. So……..here’s the story of ‘The Blind Goalscorer’…………..enjoy………. 🙂 In my early twenties I returned to the town I was born, still optically challenged by glasses. I used to hate when it was raining, hate opening the oven, and hate coming in from the cold. I also used to hate when girlfriends insisted in ‘trying them on’ leaving me staring like a zombie trying to focus while they laughed hysterically. Despite my impediment, football was still ‘my thing’. Every week Match of the Day would further fuel my love of the ‘beautiful game’.

One day a friend asked me if I would go and ‘trial’ for his Sunday League team. It was pre-season and they were getting an international squad of talented players together, AKA ‘anyone they could find’, to ‘trial’ for their team. So…….one Wednesday evening, we arrived for ‘training’. Although I’d played for teams before, I’d never played for one that actually trained. Up until this point, I’d played games for teams that basically turned up at a venue, played, went to the pub, went home. There we were all lined up and ready to go. For me, this was it, the BIG TIME. The warm-up consisted of running around the football pitch a few times……………..and that was basically it. They then amazed me by dragging out this wooden thing, which turned out to be a dummy defensive wall. ‘Ok everyone. Line up and take a shot around the wall. Each player goes twice’ We all shuffled into a sort of line and the first guy placed the ball roughly 10 yards away from the now imposing looking pallet of doom. He took his run up and…………woahh!……..what the bloody hell was that? He’d skied it almost vertically, and I can officially tell you, that ball is, to this very day, still up in the air. As the previous Lionel Messi lookalike headed off in a space rocket to try and retrieve hs ball, the second bloke in the queue started his run up. Woomph!………and that would be 3 points for the Scotland Rugby Union team!

Two kicks in and already we’d already run out of footballs. So, we sort of stood aimlessly in the middle of the pitch looking at the ground, the sky, the wooden pallet etc, while we waited on Messi and Maradona retrieving their balls. As I looked around, I realised I was 23rd in the queue. At this rate my 24th birthday would have come and gone by the time we’d finished taking free kicks. Soon, more kicks were heading skyward and even more points were heading the SRU’s way. What was wrong with them. Had they all been to the pub before ‘training’.

Eventually it was ‘my turn’. I placed the ball on the ground, stepped back, ran up and curled the ball with my right foot towards the top corner. The keeper was stunned into life. Someone had actually aimed the ball in his direction. He rose to his left and tipped my shot over the bar. ‘Wooooo’ came the noise from behind. I wasn’t disappointed. I’d waited in the queue for nearly 6 months to have a shot at goal so missing it when my legs were nearly numb wasn’t such a bad thing. Then someone said the dreaded words………… ‘Ok one more shot each”

Now, I hate being hard on people. Everyone has different skills and talents. You jus have to learn what those skills and talents are and use them to everyone’s benefit. But……… these guys were the worst free kick takers this side of Alan Hansen. And so the mayhem continued, ball after ball being retrieved from space or the burn 2 miles behind the goal. I was 26 yrs old when eventually my second chance came. I placed the ball, took a run up and, this time, curled it with my left foot round the pallet of doom. Now, at this point it’s worth remembering, that something like 40 free kicks had been taken. I would say the keeper had made half a dozen easy saves, including my first tame attempt. This time though, someone had sent the ball the other way. The goalie looked perplexed, bemused, even stunned as the ball floated past him into the net…… ‘Feckin show off’ came the cry from the queue. I couldnt help it. All those youthful years of playing on the drying green had paid off. I could kick the ball with both feet and then some.

Finally, the training was over and, as we headed towards the changing rooms I heard the dreaded words…… ‘Dave,we’re playing a friendly against Lincluden Colts on Saturday. Can you play?’ It was a game of football ffs, there was only one answer……….. Saturday arrived, I was nervous. Not because I didn’t think I was good enough, but, because the Colts were a Saturday amateur side from a league that was much better than the team I was about to trial for. I took to the field, placed, as usual, out on the wing. The game kicked off and away we went. We’d only been going 5 minutes when the referee came up to me. ‘You’ll have to take your glasses off son…..you might hurt someone’ I thought ‘here we go again’……was i the only person in the world that was wearing glasses that could kill. I’d never heard of anyone being hurt by a pair of National health spectacles. I thought about arguing with him, but I could see from his demeanour, he thought he was refereeing the FA Cup final and not a knockabout between two Saturday and Sunday amateur sides. I think I remember someone asking if i could play without them. I’d never tried, so versus giving up and missing out on a game of footie I thought I’d give it a go. Now, I don’t know if any of you are short sighted, but I am very short sighted. I didn’t realise how much until recently, when an optician said to me ‘ooh you’ve got a good prescription’. Everything beyond 4 inches in front of my face is blurred unless I have either a sheet of glass on plastic ear supports or a curved plastic disc on my eyeball. I tried running about a bit, but I soon realised this was not going to work. I couldn’t gauge the undulations in the pitch and as for timing kicks at the ball…………..I was going to pack it in, and, once more, as was becoming the norm in my life, walk off the park, when I saw the white blurry thing shoot up into the sky. It soon became a very blurry white object. I could also see a dark object ahead, which turned out to be the goalkeeper. I stumbled towards him, almost falling twice, as my relationship between the unfocussed grass below me and I, became less than amicable. I could make out the ball dropping down to the goalie and was about to give up, when, as i was about 15 feet away, the goalie looked towards me. Now, normally that would have made no difference to how the world was turning, but, in this case, it was a fatal mistake. As he looked up, the ball fell into his arms. Only it didn’t. Instead, it dribbled through his arms, hit his foot and rolled out towards me. I could see the furry blurry ball of air coming towards me. I gamboled towards it like a new born baby deer and attempted to stick my boot on it. Unfortunately I completely miskicked it and it went off like a spinning top back towards the goalie. I dont know what look the goalie had on his face as i couldn’t make it out, but as the ball spun past him he must have at least had a look of surprise. I’m not sure how long it took but the ball traversed the goalie like the earth round the sun, taking almost the full 365 days to circumnavigate him. I blinked, saw that the the fuzzball had stopped. What i couldn’t make out was, the ball had spun 6 inches over the goal line. I’d scored. I’d scored…………….I’d scored one of the worst goals ever scored. I could see the local newspaper headlines “Blind Goalscorer Wins Game’. 👀 I stumbled through the rest of the game , which unfortunately we lost 2-1. So, my blurry goal, which won the Roberto Carlos award for fastest spinning goal ever, meant nothing. Although i was asked if I wanted to play that season, the headache i had and the realisation i would be unable to score flukes like that every week, made me realise i’d have to make do with indoor 5 a sides. However, I learnt that day that even when everything appears to be against you, you can still win if you just keep going. 😀 ‘The Blind Goalscorer’ was brought to you by @qosfc1919 on Twitter and Dodo productions 2014 ©

#SoccerShorts – A Legend is Born âš½ï¸

I thought it would be relevant with the World Cup on in Brazil (even if we are not in it 😥) to throw a short football story into the mix. My football talents are, in my mind, legendary. I’ve always modestly said if i hadn’t worn spectacles i could have gone beyond Sunday League 2nd division all the way probably to the Sunday League First Division. 😉 Instead, having been ordered by referees three times to remove my glasses in games , I gave up my football dreams for ever……… *wipes tear from eye*.
Not all was lost though, as I was eventually able to ditch the specs for contact lenses, by which time we had an amateur summer league side on the go. Now i know that’s hardly the Bernabau on El Classico matchday, but at least I hadn’t bitten anyone yet……

So, picture the scene. We’re playing a Farmer’s pub league side on a beautiful little secluded pitch just outside a lovely little village on the outskirts of Dumfries. We’d a good side out (including as I can now reveal a couple of ‘ringers’) so, we were confident of a win. It was a dry day, no wind, we were all fit and raring to go.

So, in front of our manager, a small boy and a dog, we kicked off playing up the slope. Although we had all the ball, at half-time we found ourselves 1-0 down. We were not despondent though. Kicking down the slope, our skill and intelligent play would surely see us through.

We kicked off the second half and it wasn’t long before we went 2-0 down. Heads were beginning to go down in disbelief. Only the week before we’d beaten the Electricity Board 5-3. What on the planet earth was happening. We pulled a goal back , then astonishingly we gave away a penalty. 3-1. Three bloody one down to pubfull of farmers. 😥

I swapped wings, and, we would have brought a sub on if we’d had any.

I asked the ref ‘How long to go?’

’10 minutes’

There was still time…… 👀

I crossed the ball into the area. Suddenly the ball broke to Dougie Nish, he mishit it perfectly, it was 3-2

Frantically we pummelled the now packed Farmers defence.

‘How long to go’

‘One minute plus injury time’ 😳

Then, suddenly………we got a corner…….the ball was curled into the mix. Who knows who got the last touch….who cares…..the ball was nestling in the back of the net like a sleeping baby. We’d done it.We’d rescued the game in it’s dying breath. 3-3. Not the result we expected, but hats off to the other team for surprising us. 👏

Then it happened…..in life most people get their 15 minutes of fame……this was my day. I stood just inside my own half as the now sullen Farmers team kicked off. The ball went back to their keeper and he launched it up the pitch. As i waited for the final whistle, the ball soared towards me. Down it came, landing a few metres away. It took a low bounce and continued it’s almost cruise missile like path towards me. I looked at it. It looked at me. We looked at each other. We smiled.

Standing in my own half, I launched it back to from whence it came. Up towards the clouds it went, and then, following the parabolic rules of maths as well as the laws of gravity, it headed back to earth. Their goalie was now staring at it. He was now stepping back into his penalty area. He was now backtracking faster than an Italian tank.  🇮🇹 He was now panicking. He was now reaching up. He was now falling back into his goalmouth. He was now staring at the ball in the back of his net. He……had just witnessed the greatest goal ever scored on that pitch…and…it was me who had scored it. My time had come. Forget all the four eyed knock backs, all the disappointments of not being able to dribble past professional defences, score the winner in the Scottish Cup Final or lift the World Cup…..my moment had arrived. Forget Beckham. Linden had scored from his own half to win the game 4-3 with the last kick. ⚽️ 😀 🎉

My team rushed towards me, looking just as astonished as i was. As i left the pitch to ‘bloody hell Dave where did that come from’ and ‘amazing you spawny git’, our manager (my friend Iain) let out an expletive.

I said ‘why are you swearing?’

‘Because I’ll never hear the end of that goal til the day I die……..’

………….and, he was right…….a legend was born 🙂

#SoccerShorts – A Legend Is Born was brought to you by @qosfc1919 on Twitter and Dodo Productions ©. ⚽️⚽️