Reelin’ In The Years…?

Sports Direct earned themselves a brand new customer... but will he ever walk again?

For the past few years my 17 year old son has been playing football with a bunch of lads on a municipal pitch every Saturday morning. At some point along the way, I mentioned that I might ‘get the boots down from the loft’ and come and join in. To be fair, he didn’t even attempt to call my bluff – even he knew the consequences of a man in his fifties trying to recapture the form and fitness he had 35 years ago, and how stupid it would be to actually go through with it.

But I will never learn.

So, on Saturday morning I found myself in Sports Direct asking a wary young sales assistant questions like ‘Is this the weather for soft ground or hard ground studs?’, and ‘Tell me about your range of shin pads’… I bet he thought it was the worst Mystery Shop in the history of sports retailing. Anyway, in about 6 minutes flat he sold me the boots, shorts, socks, shin pads – and a ball I’ll never need. He actually patted me on the back as he led me to the till to pay - like the male nurse did just before my vasectomy.

I arrived at the field of dreams, and my son’s face was a picture. It was a mix of astonishment that I’d actually shown up, and the dawning realisation that I would soon be let loose to make a total fool out of both of us. This was heightened by the fact that there was another father/son pair who were both whippet-fit, and highly skilled players. The stakes were suddenly massive.

We played for almost 2 hours during which I did actually recover some of my former skills - including some Le-Tissier-like passes that surprised everyone, including me. But it all came at a cost – notably my ability to walk for the rest of the weekend. Waking up on Sunday morning I tried to get out of bed. It wasn’t a problem – it just took me 45 minutes. Another half hour to get down the stairs and it was just like any other day.

So, this would be the point where I’d usually try and make some smart-arse link to the world of advertising or business in general. It’s more of a life-lesson really;

‘If you knowingly do something stupid, you ARE stupid – and the outcome will be bad. If you don’t realise this, you must be more stupid than everyone thought’

Of course, it’s true. Having said that, I enjoyed it all so much I’ll probably be out there next Saturday morning if I can hobble down to the pitch.

Paul Carter

 A broken man