Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Flaming Flamingoes (Part 2)

A lot of fouls in today's soccer games were never considered as fouls in my day, they were considered part of the game, if you don't hop out of the way of a wicked kick in those days and you got caught, tough, you just had to grin and bear it, some spectators even considered it hilariously funny if you ended up rolling about on the ground in agony, especially if the foul was committed discreetly. So whenever I ended up on the wrong end of a tackle which usually hurt a lot, the last thing I wanted to show, was my agony. I may wince a little and limp for the remainder of the match but would never give our opponents the satisfaction of letting them know they hurt me. The best revenge, would be to finish the match as winners, which happened often.  

In a fifty, fifty situation when the foul actually was blatant, the benefit of the doubt was usually given to the defender that clumsily tackled you and it was never viewed as intentional which in a lot of cases, it was. If you complained, they made fun of you. For example if you yelled foul in an attempt to get the referee's attention, some spectators and even a few opposing players would yell back, you mean fowl, insinuating you were chicken, so it was best not to say anything and just get on with your game. You also had to remember that there were maybe about a dozen other guys who had their eyes on your shirt and would happily see you hurt and stretchered off, which would increase their own chances of getting into the team.

I have often overheard coaches, managers and supporters advising the defenders of  the teams they support to hurt the most talented players within the opposition and get them stretchered off or intimidate them in order to increase their team's chances of winning. One of the most common phrases in those days was "if you miss the ball, don't miss his leg". So playing competitive soccer in my day could be very risky indeed.

On this particular match day, it was only after I arrived on the field to play this friendly match that I was informed that Joe Giwa would be playing for the opposing team. Now big Joe used to play for us, he was a strong defender and he usually took pleasure in using his size to intimidate opponents. Apart from his size, this guy can play but if you got the better of him once too often, watch out, he will find a way to somehow cramp your style and put you completely off your game. I wasn't too worried though because Joe wasn't a malicious player, a little clumsy maybe, but never malicious. Also we had played on the same side before so we both knew each other's strengths and weaknesses.

What happened to me was this, I got slide tackled by Joe and as I was falling, this big fellow had his arms wrapped around my shoulders from behind and I basically fell with both our weights on my outstretched left arm. Some survival instinct within me made me roll both our bodies in a direction that I didn't sustain a break at the elbow, but I heard the cartilage bone in my left elbow make a cracking sound. The agony was indescribable.

By the time this big oaf got off me, my left arm had swollen massively. I didn't care if anyone saw me crying, I was bawling my eyes out. Ten minutes later, I was in a cab heading for the hospital but I never imagined that when we got there, I would be admitted and would have to spend a few days in this remote hospital which was exactly what happened.

(To be continued)



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