Taking Stock - November 27, 2014

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“Just look at that!” said She Who Knows as we strolled through Stanley Park the other day.

There were two school soccer matches going on – both with all girls playing.

“What’s wrong with hockey or netball?” She Who wondered, taken aback.

It reminded me of my own boyish sport days.

At school I’d hated soccer. Of course, we had awkward round-capped boots and a heavy, leather ball on muddy pitches. Still, it toughened us up.

By chance, later that day, I had a reunion with old mate Big Dave – who had introduced me to rugby.

At the time we were both working in a market town on the Welsh borders, which held little to entertain two Lancashire lads in their early 20s.

So the pair of us decided to join a rugby club over the border, where I benefited from a grim fitness regime and relished the après-training beers at our club hut.

“If only you had a similarly firm grip on the oval ball and rugby tactics, as you do on that pint,” our coach observed wistfully.

He told me that in a match I should avoid going anywhere near the ball.

My only asset for the team was the thickness of my cranium, useful in scrum encounters.

Big Dave also gave me pre-match advice. “Have steak for breakfast and don’t shave or shower.”

For older players of coarse rugby, one could also add the tip, ‘Leave your teeth out.’

I never did improve at the game, but I enjoyed the matches in the little hillside villages, where they opened the pub for us afterwards. Dave and I even embarked on an international tour with our Welsh team – all the way to England.

While this might not constitute me being a true rugby international, the après-match celebrations were world class.

Thankfully, those girls we saw on the park looked healthy, clean and still had all their teeth. As a boy, I would have much preferred playing soccer with them too!

* For copies of Roy’s books, visit royedmonds-blackpool.com.