One Sunday Morning
It was glorious wether for football in a nice setting at the AUL complex Dublin. A cup tie is being contested between two sides separated by two divisions. The game is amateur level but the gulf in quality between both clubs is very evident right from the off. The host team who play within the complex race into a one goal lead within the first ten minutes and miss several scoring opportunities to extend that lead against their visitors who are evidently struggling. By halftime the score is 3-0 and the game seems all but over.
By the hour mark the score was 5-0 and I was considering leaving. I didn’t know then but I was about to witness a hugely important aspect of football change the game, character. Reading this you’d think the aforementioned reference to character was referring to a strong fight back from the visitors inspired by drive and determination, you’d be wrong. On this occasion it was the character of the host team that sparked a turning point in the game.
At 5-0 up the host team began to take their opposition for granted. Players began to try flicks and tricks and joking as they done so on some occasions. Even the coaching staff afforded a smile or two as players attempted to nutmeg opponents. The visiting team pulled a goal back courtesy of a sloppy pass across his own goal by the host teams full back, a pass he clearly attempted due to a comment passed his way moments earlier from a teammate “Danny doesn’t have that pass in the locker”. 5-1 soon became 5-2 as an attempted nut meg in the middle of the park resulted in a shift counter attack. With just over 15 minutes to play hope for the visitors came in the form of a well taken free kick that nestled in off the crossbar, 5-3 and game on. The host manager by now was clearly in no mood for any more messing about “what the fuck is going on lads, wake the fuck up will you’s. Start working here” he screamed onto the pitch.
The visitors fightback sparked the host team back into life as they got a foothold on the game once more. The ticks, flicks and smiles were no more, no more banter! It was back to hard work and focus. For the visiting team though confidence was flowing throughout the side by now and it came as no surprise that there number 9 blasted home his second of the day with just five minutes to go. From 5-0 down to 5-4, this was some comeback to witness. The visitors pushed and pushed giving all they had to offer for the final five minutes but the host team just about held on to win the game in no small thanks to a superb save from their keeper and the frame of the goalpost.
I walked away from that game having witnessed a hugely important aspect of any team, the characters within it. Character is vital in football for many reasons and it can let you down in many forms or be an advantage in many forms. On that Sunday afternoon character was the reason the host side almost let a 5-0 lead slip against opposition from a lower level. Although talented it was evident the characters within the team lacked humility, at 5-0 up their character was revealed and exposed as they disrespected an opposition that in the end were unlucky to lose. The host side were eliminated in the following round and ended their season with nothing to show for it other than a mid table finish. For a group of very talented players, it is clear something was missing during their season, was it character? Character after all can either make you or be your undoing in many forms within this game.