Mind the (age) gap
32 years. It must be some sort of record.
It's not official, but I'll claim it anyway. 32 years, surely the largest age gap anywhere between the two oldest players in a senior Sunday Division Five Jewish soccer team based on a corporation football pitch in the shadow of a major north London hospital somewhere between Wembley and Ealing.
The team? FC Team, Maccabi League newcomers, trendsetters and brainbox university graduates. The second oldest player? My son Gideon, age 22, team captain. Footballing credentials? One-time junior at Hendon FC (with Joe Cole), member of the all-conquering Kinnor youth teams of the mid-late 90s, university footballer. Footballing assets? Fast, strong, good brain, great vision, outstanding in the air, very very skilful. In short, you'd never know he was my son.
The oldest player? Me, age…well, the maths aren't difficult. Footballing credentials? One time junior at Hendon FC (with Old King Cole), Maccabi League journeyman, and, er, that's it. Footballing assets? Fast (former Maccabiah Games sprint medallist), fit, brain and vision in decent working order (though rarely applied in the soccer sense) and, er, that's it.
So…nepotism aside – and isn't it good to see it work in reverse for a change – what the heck is a bald old 150 pound (by coincidence my weight and my transfer value) geezer doing abandoning the comfy armchair of Maccabi Masters football for the Keystone Cop high-speed chase of regular Maccabi League football alongside, and against, a bunch of kids who were barely off their mothers breasts while I was attaining veteran status in the heady world of amateur sport?
The answer? Vanity, of course. Just knowing I can keep pace with all those testosterone-fulled post-teenies, each of whom would give Roadrunner a run for his money in his pursuit of the wily old coyote, is enough to give my ego a rub down. I'm in the team on merit, until death, or a life policy exclusion clause, do us part.
Then, of course, there's the wily old coyote syndrome. I've learned a few tricks down the years, and a knowledge of how to stand on the opposing centre forward's foot as he tries to leap for the ball at a corner without the referee spotting it is a knowledge worth imparting.
Most of all, though – and you won't really know this unless you've a son of your own – the joy of playing alongside your boy in a team, a serious team, not just a park kick-about, is a dad's dream come true. And in our case we really are alongside each other, Gideon in centre midfield, me to his left, still playing the old Number 11 game that I always played so…well, that I always played.
How long can it last? Well, the truth is, just so long as Gideon stays fit and injury-free, what's to say we can't keep this thing rolling till Gideon Junior comes along and stakes a claim for his dad's shirt. Now that will be some gap.