Day 164 – Footy, an afternoon of footy, then more footy

I played football this morning for the first time since… well… you know what.

Plenty of precautions. Sanitiser, temperature checks (thankfully very early on!) and track and trace all details taken and logged.

It was warm enough and I was not match-fit enough for it to be wholly comfortable, but wow – it felt good to play again. And while the heat of summer is on its way, the fitness will come back too.

Then an afternoon of football: Sheffield United women beating Millwall London City Lionesses 4-1 and Ajax Cape Town winning their first playoff league match 3-2 after a topsy-turvy second half.

And then this evening is Fantasy League Draft night. 12 players, 4 continents: the magic of camaraderie and the internet. And football.


Another game of football beckons this evening; something that I am really looking forward to. Or rather, I was. I do need to somehow mend my lower limbs first though, as after a hefty gym session yesterday (and despite a gentle one this morning), I am very much suffering from Concrete Leg Syndrome.

You won’t find any reference to Concrete Leg Syndrome in any of the medical books, because it’s a name I just made up. There are no visible contusions, no specific damage to the muscles or joints of the legs, nor is there any one area or part which is particularly painful. It’s just that in CLS, it does genuinely feel like your legs are made of concrete. Heavy, immobile (no, not the Italian centre forward), generally slow and a bit grumpy.

I’m not in agony, not even pain. To be honest, even ‘mild discomfort’ is going a bit OTT as a description. I’m simply just aware that my legs appear to be made of concrete at the moment.

Because CLS isn’t actually a thing, there’s also no real treatment for it. Sure, stretching helps a bit, and generally a little light exercise assists with easing the weightiness of the thighs.  I’ve also tried popping a couple of anti-inflammatories, but it seems that time is the only healer. And given that tonight’s game kicks off in about 6 hours, it’s something I don’t have a lot of. Later, I may slather my lower half (no, not all of it) with Deep Heat in a last ditch attempt to wake my legs up from their petrified stupor.

There may be advantages too, of course. It must surely be difficult for an opponent to injure a concrete leg, and if I get time to swing one of my mighty trunks backwards and then forwards again into the ball (and I get it on target), there’s likely to be no stopping it – even the net may be in danger. But 5-a-side relies mainly on speed and dexterity: attributes I was already running a little short of given my advanced years. CLS will likely only make things worse. Just call me The Statue.

Watch this space tomorrow, as I report back on the game and my personal experience of 40 minutes of high tempo, leg-dragging football.


I usually write posts on here in the afternoon or evening ready for publication the following morning.

This time though, it wouldn’t have made any sense to do that, because I wouldn’t have known what to write.

The jury was still out. Overnight deliberations.

Although we lost, physically, the first football game post knee surgery went well last night – but it’s always the morning after that the truth really comes out, isn’t it?

The great news is that I’m writing this post from a static bike at the gym. I’m cycling through Monument Valley. So things can’t be that bad, can they? And yes, I’m taking it easy because yes, I am a bit stiff here and there, but the knee is certainly no worse than anywhere else.

I am unscathed.

Thanks to the guys for taking me back so readily and with such open arms. Not that I ever expected anything else.

Next week, we go again.

Team talk

We lost our 5-a-side football match last night. These things happen. It’s never great when they do, but there’s more to life than winning.
There was a cricket match on at Newlands and we were a bit short on players. No-one is saying that those two things were connected, but it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention that suspicions were voiced.

Anyway, at half time, there was only one goal in it and there was, as they say, all to play for.
We huddled as the coach called us in for the rousing half time team talk.

He began:

Listen, guys.
We’re a goal behind.
They are younger, fitter and faster than us.
We are older, fatter and slower than them.
They have four substitutes.
We only have one.

It made for difficult listening. Not least because it was all true.
We knew that we were up against it.
But here came the motivational bit, the clarion call to action, the stirring, inspiring conclusion to the monologue. The words which would carry us triumphantly through the trials and tribulations of the upcoming twenty minutes:

Except… that was it. There was no more. At that point, he wandered off the field, Heineken in hand.

Funny thing is, it didn’t really sink in at the time. It was only in the post-mortem after the game that we realised just how lacking in encouragement the team talk had been. That said, in no way am I blaming the lack of half time positivity for the disappointing result.

But I have to say that it certainly didn’t help.

Another hot footy session

We played football this morning. Just a 10am kickaround to blow the cobwebs away before the, nothing too strenuous this early in the year – we’re not stupid.

Or are we? Because there were definitely echoes of that fateful day as I jumped out of the car at Century City.  I’d left home about 15 minutes earlier at 22ºC and with a pleasant southeaster blowing. Upon my arrival at the venue, I was already seeing 28ºC and there was not a breath of wind. An eerie stillness prevailed, almost as if someone were waiting for 10 slightly unfit white blokes to die from heatstroke.

Or something.

We played: some admittedly more than others. Most (all?) admittedly more than me. As I repeated often – safe in the knowledge that there’s basically no way it can ever happen here – stick me on a field in -2ºC and I’ll run for days. But I’m far too European to be able to sprint around a 5-a-side court for 75 minutes in the hot African sun and actually survive.

There can’t have been a lot of sprinting then (as I’m sure my teammates will happily testify), because I am still alive.

I came home and stood in a cold shower, trying desperately to balance the urgent need to reduce my body temperature to something resembling normality with the precarious water shortages in Cape Town.
The former won out in the end, and I emerged somewhat wrinkled but thankfully much cooler, several hours later.

So was this The Worst Idea Larry Ever Had II™? No, no it wasn’t anywhere close to that bad. That day and its consequences will live long in the memory, whereas this one will simply go down as an hour that could have been… more comfortably spent.

A braai this afternoon – accompanied by copious amounts of Energade – will surely mean that I’m in tip-top condition to face the rigours of lab work (and possibly even the rigors of a body in extreme shock) in the morning.

I’ll let you know.