Sub ref, please

Watching my son play football yesterday (his team lost to a sickening last-gasp goal), I noticed straight away that the opposition coach had an extraordinarily loud voice. So what else could I do but write down everything he said over the course of the 80 minutes…

First Half
Keep it moving.
Make it stick.
Always awake.
Constant talking.
Ball to feet.
Leighton can hang.
Go with him.
Josh, talk to him.
Keep tight.
You can’t stand and watch.
He makes every ball look good.
Well in, Mario.
Round the outside.
Let’s get someone in the middle of the park.
Oli, quicker with your feet.
Joe, man behind.
No, no, no, no, no.
Take responsibility.
Don’t let them into the game, fellers.
And again.
Good head, son.
You know he’s not great at looking.
That’s a great ball.
Good football again.
Keep working.
Josh, beware.
Good lad, good tackle.
Are you having it? No?
Brilliant, mate.
Let’s play football, come on.
Get it on the deck.
Get it down and play.
Well in, Jacko.
Great football, that.
Finn, on your toes, mate.
Go with him.
Push forward.
Sub ref, please.
Right, get stretched out.
Keep it super tight.
Get out with him.
Chase him down.
You’ve got to work harder against him.
Jack, talk to Finn all the time, he’s not an experienced forward, is he?
Take him down, Finn.
Luke, if you think you’re in a good position, drop ten.
Jack, go hard.
Joe, you’ve lost a man behind.
You’ve got to drag him back in the middle.
Please don’t think for yourself.
Pressing, pressing.
That loose ball’s a one v one.
Run at them, Jack.
Run him, Mario, run him.
Fellers, when we get in their penalty area, pass the ball quicker.
Do not get too far forward.
Right Luke, talk to them all the time.
Move for each other.
Be incisive with your passing.

0-1

Lazy, that.
Come on, you’re better than that.
Tom, you’ve got to shield that back three.
Turn, give, have it.
Tom – centre, back of the circle… you can’t drift.
Simple.
You’re making it too easy.
Sub ref, please.
Right, let’s attack this ball.
Luke, stay positional.
Unlucky, Brands.
Come on Jack, play football.
Tom, drop in.
Back you come, Gav.
Oooooooh!
Right, face it up.
Brands, you’ve got to pass our way out of trouble.
You think you can beat eight players past the halfway line?

Half time

If you get the ball with your back to play you can’t turn. If you could you’d be on the telly yesterday.
Positional discipline.

Second half
Mario, hit the byline.
Kick start your run.
Come on, two-touch.
Loads of bodies round you there.
We did an hour on that in training.
Unlucky Leight.
Follow it in.
You’ve got to be moving now.
Well in, Brands.
Again, look after each other.
Go again, go again.
Jack, press forward.
Who’s in there?
Get your foot in.
You’ve got to get in front.
You’re making life too easy.
Corner ball that, surely?
Get on the end of this.
Mario, give me five hard minutes.
Few tackles from behind there.
Work hard, mate.
Unlucky.
Luke, if you think you’re in a good space, ten yards back.
Keep playing.
Sub ref, please.
Come on guys, that’s awful, no excuse.
Get ready.
Fellers, we’ve got twenty-five minutes, step it up.
Battle for it, fellers.
Sub ref, please.
Chasing the game now for the first time in six weeks.
It’s all about effort.
It’s got to go more diagonal.
Good head.
You’re left-footed – hit it.
Get on the keeper.
Luke, hold the centre, play it deep – everything else is brilliant.
Sub ref, please.
Tom, have a rest.
Keep it tight.
Twenty minutes, players, come on.
Come on, up we go.
Good lad, Luke.
Position now.
Luke, play deep.
Jacko, I know you know: let’s keep it tight, let’s make it stick.
Go with the line.
Twist your player.
Matty, you’ve got to be chasing everything.
Got to be doing that.
Go in, on the wing.
Don’t you dare turn away.
Fifteen minutes.
Man on.
Tackle.
Unlucky, Sammy.
Connor, you’re jogging.
Connor, you’ve got to work.
Help him.
Go again.
We’ve got to get it across the front of goal and in.
Joe get central, Luke get central.
Come on, be quick, be quick.
We’ve got guys in acres.
You’ve got to follow it in.
What are you waving your arms for?
Brands, if you moan again you’re coming off.
It’s all about how much you work.
Well in, Finn.
How long, ref, please?

1-1

Yes!
Sub ref, please.
Well done, fellers.
Right, let’s go for this, fellers. Let’s go for this.
Press forward, Mario.
Mario, lead the line.
Sammy, dictate.
Get forward, let’s go.
Luke: super tight, super deep.
Unlucky, Gav.
I just wanted you to roll it.
Leighton, make four in the middle.
Great ball,
And again, let’s go.
Brands, lead the line.
Sammy, there’s only you and Leighton in the middle.
Sammy, do you want it?
Do you want Brands to have it?
Good save, keeper.
Right, let’s go again.
Drop out.
Go for it Sam, have it off him.
You’ve got to win it in the middle.
Face him up, Connor.
Right, let’s go again.
Great supporting, Luke.
We have no time.
Right, come on, we’ve got to go.
Sammy, drop.
Go on the back post.
Think, will you?
Sub ref, please.
Brands, off.
For giving it the ref.
You’re out of order there.
All right, see you later.
If you barrack the ref and get a red, I agree.
Unlucky, fellers.
Walk it off, walk it off.

2-1

Yes!

Full time

Dormiveglia

dorm

There’s some good can come from waking at 5.30 am with a full bladder, or an accidental kick in the shins, or the cat deciding that your head is the place where it wants to sit. This morning I drifted in and out of consciousness, now eyeing the LCD of the clock radio, now fending off a cat tail like a supersize feather duster, and ideas accumulated. Swathes of dialogue, scenes, plot points, possibilities. I opened my mind and sucked it all down. The drawback, of course, is that you then have to get up and write it all down, or risk dropping back into sleep and forgetting the lot. I usually have a notebook and a pen by the bed. This morning? Of course not.

Talking about it

‘Writers speak a stench.’ – Franz Kafka

IMG_0581

There comes a time during the creation of a novel when I feel the urge to discuss what the book is about, especially (as is currently the case) if I’m mired in problems surrounding the ending. Though I’d really rather not – I’m uncomfortable about discussing any issues I have with a piece of unfinished writing, because rambling on about something that was meant to be written can make the premise itself sound ugly (but also because I’m not the most articulate speaker on the planet) – I find it can help to unblock the old pipes and render evident a solution that seemed otherwise intractable. I’m not one of those writers who is able to keep everything close to their chest from conception until delivery.

Sometimes the poor soul (or souls… today I explained the plot of my novel to a captive – if not captivated – audience in the shape of my third year creative writing students) don’t need to say a word. The simple act of verbalising the problem I have might be enough to dislodge its solution. Those third year writers (themselves involved in trying to unpick the knotty intricacies of plot holes and narrative logic) were very helpful, and offered numerous suggestions and possibilities, some of which could turn out to be helpful. Although I did hijack their session somewhat, it was a helpful exercise for the students too and it led to a discussion of their plans for the piece of writing they’re expected to submit at the end of the year. A number of interesting offshoots appeared in relation to their own work once they’d opened up about it. It’s a little bit like magic, this conjuring of ideas from the simple act of batting words back and forth.

One word of warning though, especially when talking to non-writers, or family and friends, is that you beg a boundary be drawn before a word is uttered, born of bitter experience. Please, you might ask, please don’t just say: what a shit idea.