Talking of football (previous post) I spent yesterday afternoon at a football tournament in Huntingdon. Having announced his "retirement" a few weeks ago, my son, who is 14, was playing his final match before joining the local rugby club. (In this neck of the woods, football and rugby are played on the same day so it's impossible to do both.)
Ruari first kicked a ball in the hall of our third floor flat in Edinburgh. There was a door at each end and to score a goal you had to hit the one your opponent was defending. We spent countless hours kicking a small ball as hard as we could and he quickly developed a promising left foot. (One night, by mistake, he kicked the radiator so hard I thought he'd broken it - his foot, not the radiator.)
When he was three we moved into a house with a small garden. Nets were erected at either end so we could play outside. His appetite for football was immense. It was beginning to wear me out so I was delighted when the boy next door, who was 12, volunteered to step into my shoes.
Two years later we moved to Cambridgeshire. Within a few months Ruari was training with the village team. He was six when he played his first match, for the under 8s. Since then he's played over 200 matches for three different clubs, plus tournaments, plus trials. (When I was 14 I had played fewer than 30 "organised" matches. There were no local clubs to play for, only the Boys Brigade, and there were very few teams in the BB league in Fife.)
Ruari is still fiercely competitive but football is no longer the all-consuming passion it was. I'm pleased he has other interests - including rugby and cricket - but yesterday was the end of an era that in 12 years has taken us from the narrow hall of a terraced flat in Edinburgh to what feels like every football pitch in Cambridgeshire and beyond.
PS. Yesterday his team won five out of six matches before they lost, 2-1, in the semi-finals. Fate decreed that the last shot of a hard fought semi-final fell to my son. One-on-one with the keeper, he hit a fierce drive narrowly over the bar. Cue final whistle - and the start of a new chapter.