Warm ups are for girls . . .

First published in Opinion The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

AGE creeps up on you, doesn't it? The football team was a man short and all male eyes settled on me.

My brain was clear: "You haven't played in eight years,” but my ego was already getting its kit on.

The next you thing know, I'm on a hardcourt under the floodlights, my non-hardcourt trainers giving me away.

"Have you played much?" asked one of the many younger, fitter lads.

"A bit," I stated, but in a way that implied I was both highly-decorated on the field of play but could also be totally inept if things didn’t go our way.

Naturally, I didn’t warm up properly, my ego whispering mid-stretch: "Warm ups are for girls and tofu-eating yoga instructors."

All was fine during the game. See, you can still play. You like football, football likes you.

By the time the match finished, I felt ‘a bit of a twinge’.

It was the next morning when it properly kicked in – waking up to a house of pain. Prone and ironing-board straight in bed, unable to move anything but my eyes.

All those brain-to-limb impulses which make your legs bend in the right places when going downstairs had failed.

I was reduced to making ‘oof’ noises when sitting down and grimaced yelps when getting up. It took seven days of recovery and walking round like an arthritic Robocop, but with zero crime-fighting ability.

My favourite self- diagnosis? "I've just used muscles, I don't usually use."

I'm not sure what those muscles are for. The bodily equivalent of a fondue set.

After a few days, sympathy in the house was evaporating.

“I’m going to get you some muscle spray,” the other half stated.

I took it badly. “I'm not using muscle spray! You don’t believe all that stuff actually works, do you? It’s just a con to get you to spend money.”

The next day I’d changed tack.

“Can you get me two cans of Deep Heat. The big ones. And some Radox.”

I fancy a bath. An unwinding blend of clary sage and sea minerals.

I need to be right, I'm playing again soon.

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