Sunday, 26 August 2012

My first live football matches

I don't know where this week went, but it ended up with going to my first ever football match, or to be exact two matches all in one day.

Forest Pitch, the brainchild of Edinburgh-based artist Craig Coulthard, where art meets sport meets community, a football pitch in the heart of a forest just outside of Selkirk that yesterday played host to two football matches, one between two women's teams and the other between two men's teams (both amateur). The pitch will now have trees planted along the white lines and will, in time, become a kind of living 'ghost' football pitch tribute.

Mountain Man and I had booked to go to this way back in July when it was cancelled due to the awful weather. Yesterday's weather was better, in the sense that it wasn't bucketing down, but it wasn't the best to go and be in for 6 hours. A grey, dismal, rainy, Border's day that only completely stopped with the waterworks as we queued to get the bus back to the Park and Ride in Newtown St. Boswells at the back of 5 pm.

So, dressed in full wet gear, armed with an umbrella and a packed lunch, we spent our day freezing our arses off all in the name of art. Sadly, we'd not taken our fold-up chairs with us, which was a major error on our part, as the only places to sit were these rather uncomfortable tree stumps.

We met up with our friend, Jules Horne, playwright extraordinaire (and as an aside if you haven't already seen her play, Allotment, which is currently touring the UK, you should. And then hopefully her new play, Thread, which has been on at the Edinburgh Fringe to much acclaim, will be touring at some point and is another I'd recommend), who'd also not brought her fold-up chair either and had to suffer with the tree stumps too.

Mountain Man in his gear and Jules in the background delicately perched on the tree stump seats

To get to the pitch we had to negotiate across a field and then an approximately ten minute walk through the dense woods on a mud-filled path.

Through the woods

We then arrived at this beautifully laid out pitch with lush green grass, and plonked ourselves delicately down on the wood stumps to wait for the first match.

The pitch

The teams were made up of volunteers, many of them had come to Scotland to escape the problems in their own countries. Team names were named after the four locations that made up the Pan Hellenic games and were the inspiration for the modern Olympics : Olympia (men), Delphi (women), Nemea (men) and Corinth (women). Team strips had been designed by Scottish school kids. I think the men got the better deal on this one!

The women got us started. It wasn't the best of matches and I know this sounds a bit mean, but the thing that came to mind for me was that it would've been a good promotion for sports bras. As my first ever live football match it was interesting but a bit one-sided as Delphi beat Corinth conclusively 5-1.

The women in action
There followed a break for lunch and time to move tree stumps to further up the field where we could see both halves of the pitch rather than being up one end, just in case the men's match turned out to be similarly one-sided.

Jules picking a new set of tree stumps to sit on
Then the men started. It was a colourful display, both in team strips and footballing skill and it ended with Nemea beating Olympia 4-3 in a closely fought contest. What struck me most is, how it appears that the team on the momentary up always seem to have more players than the other, and how the ebb and flow changes this strange phenomenon.

The men fight it out
The score board was made up of four pared-down tree trunks stripped of their bark and marked very tastefully with pink paint.

The score board
Then it was time to slog our way back along the muddy woodland path, wait for our bus to take us back to our car and then head home for a hot shower, change our clothes and go next door where they were having their annual summer barbeque party. Strangely we also have another to attend today. No parties for ages then two turn up at once. Typical!

I thought I'd end today's blog entry with my favourite photo, which is of the men warming up. Something about those yellow socks and pinky-mauve shorts that did it for me!

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