FOOTBALL has been one of the loves of my life. Although I never had the talent to make it beyond the school team, I was always up for a game, no matter the weather.

I love watching it too, and still have vivid memories of having to get my little brother off to sleep before I was allowed to sneak downstairs to watch Match of the Day on Saturdays or Sportsnight on Wednesdays.
Sadly, I was only four when England won the World Cup against Germany in 1966, so I don’t have any memories.

More than half a century on, it’s one of my bucket-list wishes that I might see England win it again one day – perhaps even in 2018, out in Russia. The very thought of football coming home gives me goose-bumps.

I have several mates who all feel the same and we’ve been taking it in turns to host the England games at each other’s houses. It was my turn for the match against Panama, which we needed to win to stand a realistic chance of progressing into the knockout stages.

Determined to be the perfect host, and making the most of the heat-wave, I borrowed a giant TV screen from my eldest son and hooked it up in the garden, so we could watch the match outside.

We’ve recently had a pergola built out the back and it made the ideal viewing area, with England flags flying at each corner, plenty of comfy seats, and enough shade to make sure there was no glare from the sun on the big screen.

By the time the lads turned up, there were assorted pizzas ready to come out of the oven, and an ice-bucket full of beers. Like I said – the perfect host.

The game was pretty perfect too. I honestly thought I was dreaming as England scored five goals in a first-half blitz, and it was a joy to share the euphoria with my mates.

Then, just as the second-half was kicking off, it all changed. My son arrived unexpectedly with my 20-months-old grand-daughter, Chloe. She smiled and waved at me and, suddenly, my allegiances were elsewhere.

“Does Chloe want to go on the swing?” I asked her, and her little head nodded.

“Does Chloe want a ride on her tractor? I suggested when she’d grown bored of the swing.

There was a roar from the pergola as England scored a sixth, and I fleetingly returned to see the replay as a chorus of “Football’s coming home,” rang out.

It was exciting to see England doing so well but I was quickly heading back to Chloe, making her giggle by pretending to be a monster.

“Is Grandad scary?” I asked. “Shall we go and see how big the fish are now? Or do you want to go back on the swing?”

None of this means that I’ve lost my passion for football. It’s just that there’s now something else in my life that I love even more.


BEING a grandad does, however, have its downsides…
We had a family gathering at the weekend and we were playing a game with Chloe, who’s become fascinated by hair.
“Where’s Mummy’s hair?” asked my wife, and Chloe duly started stroking her Mummy’s hair.
“Where’s Daddy’s hair? she was asked, and she obediently pointed to her Daddy’s hair. “Where’s Grandad’s hair?” was the next question. There were some sheepish looks before my dear son Jack broke the silence with the cutting comment: “That’s a very good question.” 

MEANWHILE, a school secretary, who asked to remain anonymous, remembered taking a telephone call, reporting that a boy would not be coming in due to illness.
Immediately suspicious, the secretary asked: “Who’s speaking please?” “It’s his father,” came the reply. “What’s your name?” persisted the secretary. “What do they call your dad?” she heard the caller whisper.