(Don't forget--over at Hoegbotton, our book sale is still going on...including additions, some of rare or unique editions, that I made tonight--check it out. And, of course, the original list if you haven't seen it.)
I'm going to call this blog post "Soccer Memories" instead of "Football Memories" because, unfortunately, "soccer" is what we call it in the United States. This could be one of the reasons we just got our asses kicked by the Czech Republic (along with a lack of intensity and imagination on offense, an inability to one-touch the ball to teammates with any kind of consistency, a flat-footed let's-watch-the-Czechs-play defense, and a coach who, as a friend of mine said, "always looks like someone just crapped in his ham sandwich").
But what are my soccer memories? I played left back for Buchholz High School back in the 1980s, first on the JV team and then varsity my junior year. (I quit my senior year because I hated the coach, who helped pressure an English teacher into changing a star players grade from an F to a D.)
And these are the top five moments from my completely unremarkable run of soccer, from Youth Soccer up through high school.
(5) Watching Ethan Bliss, the varsity sweeper, intimidate the hell out of opposing strikers. He'd paint a rising sun on his forehead before the game and then he'd talk to the strikers when they came down field. I'd swear he'd even bark at them. I think they all thought he was a bit nuts. Off the field, he was a thoughtful and cool guy.
(4) "Hutch," the keeper for our JV and then varsity team was a bit of a jerk. Total whiny bastard, actually. One blustery cold night he was amusing himself by trying to spit on the back of the referee whenever he got close. Then the wind shifted and the next time he spit, it flew right back in his face. Good times.
(3) Jorge was a kind of cocky player on our varsity team when I was a junior. We had a winter game in North Florida and had to wear sweats due to the cold when we were on the bench. Jorge was a substitute and was sitting on the bench in his sweats for about 20 minutes before the coach subbed him in. He took off his sweat pants, started to run onto the field...and then realized he wasn't wearing shorts. Classic moment.
(2) In one Youth soccer game, the field was wet and a big hole had opened up right where the penalty spot was. Lo and behold--we got a penalty kick. And the ref place the ball in the hole, which was so deep the ball was hidden in it. Despite our protests, our striker had to try to kick the penalty out of that hole. Which meant he had to try to get his foot under it and lob it over the goal keep. Which didn't work, of course. We hated that ref. He was extremely literal-minded and you couldn't make him budge. He was the bane of our existence for several years.
(1) Scoring on a penalty kick against rival Orange Park while on the Buchholz JV team. That was a sweet moment.