Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughStriker’s Block – An Eight Game Dry Spell - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Striker’s Block – An Eight Game Dry Spell - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Striker’s Block – An Eight Game Dry Spell

As the ball crashed onto the crossbar in the final minute, I’d exhausted every possible human emotion. The only instinct I’d got left in me was to stand there and watch as the game continued around me.

Eight games. It doesn’t sound a lot, but when we’re talking 3rd division 5-a-side, it’s an eternity.

At first, after my third goalless game, it was a feeling of annoyance, and perhaps a slight sense of criticism of the service from my teammates. But it was a kind of good natured annoyance, knowing in my heart of hearts that soon I’d slam one past some poor defenceless keeper and normality would be resumed.

But, as three games became four, and then five, Things began to get desperate.

As I write, I’m on the sofa, resting my aching legs after a surprisingly hard fought 8-3 victory (yes, there is such a thing!) without even having a goal to re-live, or recreate for my girlfriend when she gets home from work.

Tonight’s game saw me hit the crossbar, the post (twice), and the backside of a cowardly eighteen stone goalkeeper.

Come to think of it, I’ve been denied my name on the score sheet by quite an array of goalkeepers recently. There was tonight’s portly keeper, last week’s 50-odd year old (but surprisingly agile) fella, and then there was the worst keeper I’ve ever played against a few weeks ago. He didn’t even have any gloves, but that didn’t stop him getting his feet, his face, his knee and his arse (basically every body part except his hands) to every one of my shots.

I’m ashamed to say that last week I did something that most football fans would hate me for. I’m not proud of it, but I wrestled the ball from the hands of our regular penalty taker after one of our lads was the victim of a particularly cynical bodycheck.

So, there I was, striding towards the penalty spot with the fixed gaze of a man with something to prove. I placed the ball carefully on the spot, stood back and waited for the whistle.

I knew where I was putting it. Bottom left. Hard.

Time seemed to stand still while I looked at the ground at my feet, not wanting to give anything away.

The referee blew the whistle, and I hit it sweetly…straight into the legs of the grateful goalkeeper (who, by the way, was well off his line).

As I turned, ready to face the wrath of my teammates, and utter a sullen “sorry lads”, I realised that their reaction was even worse than I’d expected.

They were laughing.

The new rule is that I’m not even allowed in the opposition half if we get a penalty.

It’s actually started to affect my game as a whole. I can’t help it. I’m taking on the extra man when I could just square it to an unmarked teammate, shooting from the halfway line; I’ve even shamelessly tried to deflect my teammate’s shots.

I’ve used every swear word in the English language and some in other languages, I’ve even made some of my own up in the heat of the moment.

This week, I’ve been playing the blame game. Anything that can be blamed has been blamed. My boots have borne the brunt of it today. They’re too shiny and slippy to make decent contact with the ball. They’re too light. They’re too tight. They’re too purple.

Other recipients of the coveted Blame Awards are…*drumroll*…the pitch, the ball, the spectators and whoever left a bag next to the goal.

I also have to admit that, even though I’m not a superstitious man, before tonight’s game, I tried to remember exactly what I wore, ate, watched on telly, and did in general when I last scored. Did I have my socks pulled up properly? Did I wear totally unnecessary ankle tape? Did I tell my girlfriend I love her? Did I stick a bit of deep heat on the old knees?

It was all to no avail though. The words Spurned, Spooned, Shanked, Fluffed, and several more unprintable ones summed up my evening in front of goal.

The only consolation will come when my girlfriend gets home and I tell her I hit the post and the crossbar.

Knowing next to nothing about football, she’ll say “oooh that was close, I bet they were really good shots” and everything will be back in perspective.

A word of warning though, next time I score, every celebration is coming out to play.

So, if you’re in the Sheffield area next Tuesday and you see a man somersaulting, pulling his shirt over his head, doing a little dance, and generally holding the game up…that’ll be me.

Feel free to join in.

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