'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Monday, 15 October 2012

First and Last Times

Alan Clark in his wonderful Diaries mentions the importance of first and last times and recognising,  celebrating and paying salute to the occasion-going out with style.

The rather wonderful Alan Clark!

That's fine of course if you know it's actually going to be the last time-more often than not I suspect one is unaware that it is actually the last time or that one is so in the moment there is an inability to step back from the experience and recognise it as such. It's not necessarily something which only adults sense-some young people and a few children have an awareness too.

As a kid, like most of the other boys at Oxgangs, football was my sport-the beautiful game-I loved my games of football and played endlessly, giving every match my all. A lot of the time I played up in the back field-often three games of an evening-with the big boys; then the bigger boys; and then with boys my own age.

At six o'clock there was the big match which mainly featured boys who were around four or five years older than me. For whatever reason I seemed to be the only boy of my age who played in these matches. As mentioned in an earlier blog Andy Allan (Captain Fantastic) picked one team whilst a guy named Richard Kennedy? (Merc?) captained the other team.

Eric Carruthers Signing For Hearts

Some good players featured in these games at Oxgangs who thereafter went on to play professionally for the likes of Hearts including Eric Carruthers. However, one player was metaphorically if not literally head and shoulders above the rest-he was a class apart. His name was 'Titch' Macmillan-he was brilliant-as skilful as Messi-I loved watching that guy on the ball-he was an absolute artist, poetry in motion. His younger brother, Rab Macmillan, who was a couple of years older than me, wasn't that far behind 'Titch'.

Messi, Barcelona FC
'Titch' didn't make it to the same high level as Eric-was it because they thought him too small?-although I think he may have gone on to play in Australia at a semi-professional level. Some people thought that he was perhaps too greedy on the ball-there's a happy balance between being an individualist and doing the right thing by the team. 'Titch' was the perfect size for today's Barcelona team. Physically he was a doppelganger for Messi in size, skill and appearance.

'Don't Know How The Trees Survived!'
Back Field Oxgangs Road North
(Peter Hoffmann)

When I played with these older boys it always lifted my game-I loved the challenge of playing with them and trying to take the ball past their defence or to show some vision with a nicely weighted pass. Playing with Andy as my captain facilitated this approach and gave me the confidence to try to do these things and express myself. He complimented me when it worked and if on occasions it didn't quite come off, he didn't criticise me. It was the carrot rather than the stick approach to management-admirable and mature given that Andy would have been around sixteen years old.

At the age of twelve I went away to Boroughmuir Secondary School where I played rugby for the school, which was the tradition-at that time they didn't play football-inverted snobbery? Apart from occasionally playing for Michael Hanlon's teams in their matches against a Joe Rendall Select or a Kenny Taylor Select I gave up football altogether. I only resumed playing again in my forties and fifties with Will and Tom and colleagues at work. Looking back I should have stuck with the footie.

Even when I was playing in these games in the back field and getting so much pleasure from the matches and being in the moment, I would occasionally pause and try to take the whole scenario in, reflecting:

This is wonderful, but one day I'll play my last game here and worryingly, will I recognise and appreciate the moment?

No comments: