The clatter of studded boots on concrete floors as the players spill out of the changing rooms, on to the open grass, heading towards their allocated pitch. Parents and other spectators standing in groups stamping feet rubbing gloved hands in an attempt to get a little warmer. Clutching flasks of tea or coffee for later.
Nets being hurriedly put up whilst managers and coaches go through the warm up exercises, practicing set pieces, corners, penalty shots and the rest. Numb fingers trying to collect money and write names onto official forms. The shouts of abuse from opposing sides sometimes friendly banter other times intimidation. Persuading one of the spectators to take up the flag and run up and down the side line keeping up with the run of play, taking the flack from spectators annoyed by his decisions.
The man or occasionally woman in the middle all dressed in black with whistle, note book and cards to hand. Good or bad he must be paid, his decisions unquestioned, rarely appreciated, isolated from the masses, a lonely figure, dedicated to the game.
Turning out no matter what the weather, cold and wet, freezing or hot, wind or snow.
These are the things I remember as I receive the text. ‘stay under duvet, game is off’
Turning over in my bed, snuggled in the warmth………that’s ok then.