Every September, a weekly ritual begins that potentially defines some of the premiership stars of the future. After months and months of waiting hundreds of little people finally get to emerge from the summer doldrums and run back on to the fields of their dreams - football returns. From now onwards, weekend's hold a new meaning. Each Friday, school would finish and little people would head home with football on their minds. They would arrive at back doors and bags would be dropped, "I have no homework" they would shout and the weekend would begin. Yipee....
Most likely, each of these little ones would head upstairs, shed their uniforms, and emerge as stars...jerseys, shorts, school socks...they would head into the garden, set up their goals, and kick off their world cup finals....each, sinking to their knees as they scored the winning goal.
Reality would probably bite an hour later - "dinner" a parent would cry followed by "I'm not coming in"....and of course they did. For every parent had that armory of answers..."I've got your coach on the phone and your're not training if you don't get in"..."bed early tonight, training starts again tomorrow"...eventually, jersey in one hand teddy bear hanging from the other, socks at ankle height, up they would go....tomorrow...football begins....and despite best intentions, no way they would sleep, off they drift....and their dreams took hold, shots, saves, crosses and passes, great tackles and goals all became real. School was over, Colga football begins.
And then, Saturday morning would kick off, early, very early, and a miracle occurs. Colga jerseys replacing the pyjamas thrown aside and after a week of being dragged out of bed, parents bedroom doors would be torn open as demands begin. "What time is training....we're going to be late"...to which a parent's tired reply, "it's only half six, go back to bed...". No way, for Saturday morning is football and would herald their chance to display all of those talents bunched up inside. And those of us parents would eventually give in...time to get up, preparations to begin.
Re-reading of texts probably started most days - training tomorrow so don't forget shinpads, the water, the jacket, the shorts, and on and on. And despite all best intentions, you will still start off late. But, never underestimate the importance of this day - for all of these little people, this is the most important date. In their eyes, you are not grumbling parents complaining about why training is so early, you are their greatest fan who is about to deliver them to their field of dreams.
And now, here we are, training finished for Christmas and dreams turned elsewhere, and whilst we may think these little people are dying for a break, in all likelihood it is us parents who need the out-take.
Each of these children are already counting the date - and tomorrow morning, as us parents sleep, these little people may rise without debate. For they have no football to go to, and, as they kneel peering out, breath on the window, they may carve out a small scene...a pitch, a goal, a ball, and some friends...and possibly, above, a man and his sleigh.