Retiring gracefully

Inner Football Goblin

I had to have strong words with my inner Football Goblin this week. I’ve been invited to play in a football tournament at St George’s Park for The Offside Rule Podcast. The Goblin got excited about this chance to play at the heart of English football. To play on the same turf as Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and the mighty Stuart Downing, it’s stuff that the Football Goblin could only dream about.

That was until I waivered about accepting the invitation. The argument went a little something like this:

Football Goblin (FG): ‘Are you kidding me? You’re not going to go and play at St George’s Park? What’s wrong with you?’

Laura (L): ‘You know what’s wrong with me. You were there when I played in goal two weeks ago, did the splits and twisted my knee.’

FG: ‘I know but this is St George’s Park. It’s not playing on Clapham Common. This is semi-pro, well sort of, it will never get better than this.’

L: ‘I can’t, it hurts when I walk, my knee has an extra lump on it that I’m pretty sure is a newly formed knee cap and my only recent sustenance has been Ibuprofen. I’m going to have to accept that I’m too old for playing football. I don’t want end up crippled before I’m 40.’

My old friend Reason interjects into the conversation.

Reason: ‘That’s very sensible Laura. You need to think about your long term health.’

L: ‘Thank you Reason. I had a chat with Logic earlier and they convinced me that retiring might be the right thing to do now.’

FG: ‘RETIRE!!! You’re in your prime woman. Get a super strength knee support and suck it up. This could be our only chance to be an international. Think about the other benefits you get to stay in a nice hotel with some lovely people, you’ll come back with ideas for articles and you might meet some new people who could help you with your career. Plus, and I can’t emphasise this enough, YOU GET TO PLAY FOOTBALL AT ST GEORGE’S PARK.’

Reason: ‘You know the Football Goblin raises some reasonable points there.’

L: ‘I thought you were on my side Reason?’

This is when Compassion comes to my aide.

Compassion: ‘Look at her she can barely walk let alone play football. It would be kinder to let her rest and recover. Those Baker’s cysts have swollen to a size I’ve never seen. She looks like she’s smuggling Pierluigi Collina and Dion Dublin around in the back of her knees.’

L: ‘Not quite the argument I would have made Compassion but thank you for the support.’

FG: ‘Ok I concede she’s a bit knackered but I was talking to Pride yesterday and they made a very good point about your last appearance on the pitch. Do you really want your last footballing action to be smothering the ball with your buttocks to prevent a goal when you could go out in glorious style at St George’s?’

L: ‘I saved it and we won the game, that’s still heroic!’

FG: ‘You sat on a ball with your arse. Darren Anderton at least managed a spectacular volley in his last match’

L: ‘Good point, well made. Maybe I should say yes.’

FG: ‘That’s my girl. I’ll go and buy some Deep Heat and you email them back to confirm our attendance.’

As I stood up to walk to my desk to get the laptop my right knee gave way. Pain is always very helpful in reminding me that the inner Football Goblin is indeed an evil temptress.

L: ‘That’s it I can’t do it anymore. I’m going to retire gracefully like Ledley King. I may even have my kneecaps gold plated as a trophy. I hear Franny Jeffers has his Lalique glass ankles on his mantelpiece. I could do that FG.’

FG: ‘You’re dead to me.’

So sitting here will a packet of frozen Birds Eye peas on both knees, I hereby confirm that I am officially hanging up my football boots. That’s if I can walk to the peg to hang them. It hasn’t been an illustrious or prolific career but I will always have the buttock save of Clapham Common.

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