Notes from West London · Sport

Wednesday Night Football

Last December I wrote this piece about playing football again, on Friday nights. I am happy to report that my run of games has continued and it’s all hugely enjoyable. I missed a few games for various reasons, including Covid and a thigh injury, but the latter coincided with some social events that meant I was unavailable for three consecutive weeks from mid-March onwards. Two of these games were cancelled at short notice because there weren’t enough people available.

By 8 April I was ready to play again, and my son’s godfather (a handy player, who I introduced to the Friday night game back in February) was also available. He usually coaches Gaelic football on a Friday night so this was a rare chance for us to have a kickabout.

Unfortunately the match was cancelled at short notice and he and I went for a few drinks instead. We would both rather have been playing football. I went by bike, and took a detour to get to the pub to ensure that I would get some kind of exercise, but I really didn’t need those six pints of Guinness. There was no game the following week (Good Friday) so I happily accepted an invitation to start playing on Wednesday nights, instead of or in addition to Fridays.

The Wednesday games are organized by someone I was at school with. We were kicking a ball around the same playground literally 50 years ago. The last time we played any kind of game together was in the early 1990s, a Sunday afternoon in Richmond Park. His son is in his late 20s and sometimes plays on a Friday night but he wasn’t even born back then.

Wednesday and Friday games are both 5- or 6-a-side, played in the same school hall but with different rules. On Fridays you can only score from outside the box, and there’s no limit on how high you can kick the ball. On Wednesdays you can only score from inside the box, and the ball has to remain below head-height.

Last week I was able to play both games. Barring injury I hope to do so most weeks for the foreseeable future. It’s a fiver to play on Wednesdays, £6 on Fridays: much less than I used to pay for private gym membership and worth every penny.

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