AS a naturally competitive type, winning trophies was always really important to me.

As a little boy, I organised an ‘Olympics’ event down our street, making medals from buttons pinched from my Mum’s sewing box, tied to lengths of string. I won both the sprint and the long jump, and tearfully sang the national anthem on top of a milk crate during the presentation ceremony.

I no longer have my Olympic buttons but I’ve kept all my proper trophies, starting with the unforgettable moment when our school football team, St Peter’s, won the district cup and we were called up on stage in assembly to be presented with cheap little gold-painted statues, by the headmaster.

I was almost as chuffed as a grown-up when I won the player of the season trophy for my heroics in goal for The Northern Echo’s Sunday League team. That was the year I was awarded the accolade, despite letting in a soft one when I was distracted by my eldest, Christopher – dressed as Batman – demanding my attention behind the goalposts.

I’ll never forget the Caped Crusader bursting into tears as my team-mates turned on me in anger. “Leave my Daddy alone,” he sobbed, holding out his gloved fist as if confronting The Joker but unable to hold his emotions together.

And then there was the time – one of the proudest moments of my life – when me and our third-born, Jack, won the ‘Parent and Child’ tournament at our tennis club. “Don’t mess this up, Dad”, whispered seven-year-old Jack on match point and, thank God, I didn’t.

I may be closing in on being 60 but those trophies – and a few more – all have pride of place in a corner shelving unit in the lounge, each with its own special memory.

And the reason for reflecting on all of this is that Christopher – alias Batman – has just had an instruction from his three-year-old daughter, Chloe, to make her “a trophy shelf”.

So far, she only has one trophy, for passing her first ballet exam, plus two rosettes – one for completing a horse ride at Center Parcs, and one for coming second as a mermaid in the village fair fancy dress contest. A shelf will do for now, but it is to be hoped that a cabinet will be required further down the line.

Christopher has many qualities, including being up to gold medal standard as a dad, but being sporty was never one of his strengths. In fact, he hated school sports days with a passion, always putting in the least effort possible to avoid having to be competitive.

As she admired her ballet trophy, glittering on its nice new shelf, his little girl looked at him and said: “Daddy, you haven’t got any trophies, have you?”

Children can be so cruel.


FIFTEEN years ago – doesn’t time fly – I was speaking at a meeting of Cockerton Methodist Ladies, in Darlington, and Christine Johnson remembered the time her sister was teaching her grand-daughter, Jessica, nursery rhymes.

She’d go through the rhyme and try to get Jessica to guess the next line.

“What comes next?” asked Grandma. “Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them what?”

“Very, very happy,” replied Jesssica.

AROUND the same time, I drove up to the North York Moors to speak to Moorsholm Women’s Institute.

Audrey Norris told how her son, Andrew, when he was three, was told he could have a biscuit for being a good boy.

“You haven’t got the one I want,” he complained after turning the biscuit tin upside down.

“Well, which one do you want?” asked his Mum.

“I want a Birdie Kit Kat,” declared the little boy.

Audrey eventually worked out that he was after a Penguin.