How Football saved my life-sort of

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1978-before i knew which team was mine

This post is the first where I write about good things in my life that give it the positive structure that helps hold me together.

I have such a great affection for football. It provides an easy reference point at key times in my life. I summarise just a few of them below:

Getting a badge for 100 Games with Castle Hill RSL Soccer Club.

From 1969 until 1972 I lived in a NSW Child Welfare Department home for boys and some of us played soccer for the local youth teams. It provided a welcome sense of camaraderie at a time when I didn’t know the meaning of the word.

When I was given the badge I thought the club had got their numbers wrong. Checks confirmed they had combined the number of games I played with that of my older brother Peter who had been at the same home and soccer club a couple of years before. I think I kept the badge for many years, as it was a connection to Peter who I had only seen once since 1966.

Manchester United vs Stockport League Cup 1978 Result 3-2 

1978 was the first year I visited England. At that time I had no knowledge of the many blood relations I had living there. What I did have was a letter of introduction to a Mr George Bryant from Stockport, who was the cousin of my foster mothers mother, and a tenuous connection at best. From my first meeting with him and his family I was embraced by them as if I was one of their own, and continue to be to this day.

Towards the end of my four month stay some work colleagues and I went to see Man United vs Stockport. For me it was the game that showed me how thrilling football can be, as United scored twice late on to win.

2 January 1989     Man City V Leeds United 0-0

Ten years I ended up back in Stockport in my usual unplanned way towards the end of 1988  still searching for myself at a time when I still had no idea of my immediate family connections in the South of England. The Bryant family welcomed me back into the fold and invited me to various holiday and Christmas events. At one I was asked by a family friend who was a Man United fan if I wanted to go to a match with him. I was also asked along to a City game and said yes to that invite instead as I knew the people better. The rest they say is history.

I still remember going to that first game at Maine Road, and the thrill of it all,even though it was a draw. Leeds had been a team I sort of followed from Sydney, for the well thought out reason that Paul Lorimer and I had the same first name. so I was exicted to see them play.

I went with Andy his dad and his brother Stuart, and I think perhaps Rick. We stood in the same spot in the Kippax Stand every week, with an unspoken reservation for our spot. From this time on it was different sense of camaraderie that I embraced, that of being a football fan.

It has provided an entry point for conversations and friendships from that time on, particularly in England and Romania, where many of my friendships have a football element to them. In New York the connection was via the Yankees, In Sydney it was South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Here is one final football example to finish with.

1999 Champions League Final Bayern Munich vs Manchester United

By 1999 I had been living in London for more than four years and by was now connected with cousins in the south and had made a great set of friends through work.

One of my cousin’s was visiting from New York and invited my self and others to attend talk about Strauss. I said yes as i always do to the chance of seeing people i like ,whatever the setting.  The main speaker was a friend of my cousin and quite good looking- which helped me say yes.

It was at place in Belgravia on the same night as the big game.  I sat strategically in one the last rows and left around half time- of  the game- not the talk, with the hope of getting home to see some if it.

If you know London you would know that having to take a train to Crystal Palace would be cutting it fine.  I still remember walking from the station home and hearing cheers coming from other peoples houses as Man United scored two very late goals to win.

I learned at least two things from that night; I am still not sure if it is Richard or Johann Strauss who The Waltz King and even if your team is not in the Champions League Final you will still find yourself wanting the other team from “up north” to take home the trophy.

So football didn’t really save my life, but it did help develop friendships which have.

 

 

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