First game of the season. (2011)

A nation becomes engulfed in the madness of the new football season, fans begin to get a realistic view of their teams chances for the upcoming winter. Hope, despair, optimism, frustration…

Transfer market mayhem, your club run by idiots who still refuse to give the gaffer the money for a much-needed striker, (Yes, I’ll get this out the way, I am a Coventry City fan!). It’s late, coming up to midnight on the 31st August, men across the country just like you sit by their computer, constantly refreshing their clubs home page to see if Xavi, Iniesta and Messi have fancied a new challenge, and liking the shade of blue in your clubs socks, all signed on a free transfer refusing to accept wages.

Then it happens, you sign Cody McDonald late into the night… Who exactly?

The clock flicks over to 1st September, until January, at least, you know the names of the lads who hold the power to determine your mood for every Saturday night in the coming months. Believe!

Meanwhile I am on holiday in Cornwall, no television, no internet connection, just the occasional glance of a paper headline to keep me in the loop.

How can I satisfy my need for football? Padstow United vs. St. Minver?

Sorted.

As I arrive at Jury Park during the half time interval, the players are gathered under a small covered area to avoid the rain. Padstow’s G.K. is crouched having a cigarette and the referee, (already carrying a fair bit of insulation I add), clutches a hot cuppa.

As the second half starts the home side is 1-0 up. Though according to the substitute, it should be 5 or 6! I take my place on the touch-line, standing in the pissing rain waiting for the second half to start. A short, ginger haired man wearing number 18 takes up his position in the centre of the park, I thought Paul Scholes had retired!

For the next 45 minutes I experience the passion that 22 men, an acre of grass and a bag of air can create, this is football! 
Plenty of fiery tackles being put in, scrappy 1 on 1 battles all over the pitch, banter from the touch-line and the Padstow United equivalent of Pep Guardiola barking out the orders from the side, “Get it down on the deck, play our football!’

As Padstow take a 2-0 cushion over their opponents the shout is heard… “Give Billy a run out!”. As Billy waits for his moment on the white line, the departing player trudges off as if he accepts it’s his ‘turn’ to make way for Billy, slap on the backside for good measure from the drenched manager. Billy starts his shift out on the left, but soon switches to the right hand side,  (I assume only to suit his preferred foot!). After about 5 minutes of tracking forwards and back, Cafu esque, Billy starts to slow, “Put it in now mate, 10 minutes” someone calls from the touch-line.

The Padstow keeper soon saves a penalty, showing incredible reactions from a man of his physique! You can guarantee the line he was repeating later down the local pub would be something along the lines of, “See my save? I am telling you Schmicael would not have kept that out!”

A classy placed finish from outside the box, low into the bottom left corner of the goal from a young, athletic striker makes it 3-0 United. There’s hope still! That’s until everyone is brought back down to the cold reality of Jury Park with 2 missed chances from…

You guessed it, Billy!

The game finishes 4-0 to Padstow. Full time.

Despite what you may think has been a sarcastic mockery of these keen footballers, (just like many thousands across the country embarking on their individual campaigns this season) that is not the case. I found the 45 minutes of football I saw, filled with hoof ball, goal line scrambles, rattling crossbars, yellow cards and plenty of balls over the hedge… a thrilling spectacle! Granted, not quite Barcelona in an El Clasico, but just as good in many ways. For me that is what football is all about!

The parting shot overheard from one of the terraces faithful, “Nice start to the season,  4-0 win.. I feel a pasty coming on!”

Who needs the Premier League?

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