Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Acast, Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Old Sweats And Young Guns

Johnny P recalls his days as a 16 year-old tyro

Johnny P: Was young once
Johnny P: Was young once
Caravanning: Feel the glamour
Caravanning: Feel the glamour
Bale: Wot, no sports jacket?
Bale: Wot, no sports jacket?
Funny old thing, Football. For instance, 17 year-old Gareth Bale joining Spurs for a fee that could rise to £10m. Of course, I was a wonder kid too once…
Sports jacket required
I remember the day I started at Leyton Orient as a fresh-faced 16 year old, pipe clenched nervously between my teeth, my brogues squeaking and my sports jacket freshly laundered. After the first training session, I walked into the changing room to be dazzled by the sheer amount of body hair. This was a man's world, and I was making my bid to be a man. I quickly found out that striding around naked, flicking my wet towel at the club captain (who seemed to like that sort of thing) and indulging in playful wrestling with the other young cubs whilst the older sweats looked on was a surefire way of embracing manhood.
On the pitch, being a young whippersnapper I used my speed to go past some of the older players — but it was nothing an elbow to the back of the head, a mauled ankle and smashed ribs didn't correct. So much for training. Competitive matches were kinder in comparison — I used to wish we had referees when we trained.
Luxury and sophistication in Enfield
Still, there were compensations. On my wages I was able to afford my first Hillman Imp; I was the envy of my friends. Before long, I had my eyes set on a two-up, two-down in Enfield and even a caravan for weekend trips. It wasn't just the luxury and sophistication of it, of course; I was also trying to ape my elders and betters in the Orient team. Funny, really; while we tried to be like the older players, nowadays - with every thirty-two year old fading midfield general sporting mussed-up spikey hair like an estate agent — the older players are frantically trying to be like the kids. Nothing a firm flick of a wet towel can't resolve, if you ask me.

Johnny Pundit

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