Taking Stock - June 30, 2014

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Under threatening skies, the risk of drizzle ever apparent, a hardy band stepped out on to the vast expanse of school playing field.

Brollies on standby, mums like a coiled spring ready to deploy an oversized Mickey Mouse poncho on unsuspecting toddler, they stood – unsure whether to cheer for fear of introducing a frowned-upon competitive edge to proceedings.

Welcome to the modern school sports day.

I’m loathe to point out it’s not like it was in my day but... well,things have changed.

For a start there’s a lot of games involving bean bags and hoops – the playing field favourites of my youth 
nowhere to be seen.

Of course, in the memory school sports days were 
always sunny.

The tracks, slightly skewiff, marked out in finest local authority creosote might as well have been the olive fringed stadium of Olympia, given the desperate desire to win that overtook every competitor. And, boy was there cheating. The subtle placement of the thumb (along with the discreet use of the shoulder) was key to egg and spoon victory, relay baton handovers taking place 
midway down the track.

There were subtle trips, pushes and even dives – one kid, having stared 100m 
defeat in the face, going down like Jack Wilshere 
after every Costa Rican tackle.

One girl even brought her own sack – the rest of the class suspicious of the allergy excuse, particularly given she always won.

Without the traditional games, it didn’t seem the same.

Yes, I’m sure it was fun for the children, but for parents the race to the line, competitive spirit was lacking.

There wasn’t even a dads’ race – I’d put my trainers on and everything just for a shot at glory against our postie, the man from the car dealership and that clever looking chap in a suit.

So I’m laying down the gauntlet now.

Dads of Thornton, next summer I challenge you.

Because I believe the children, after all their egg and spoon excitement should have something to laugh at .

Just, please if you take up the offer, don’t bring your own sack.