Green v Orange, Friday 13th January 2023, 4pm

I’m quite particular about what constitutes a game or a ground that I can add to my groundhopping total. It’s got to be a regulation size pitch and it must be an eleven a side game. Although if a team turned up one short, I’d allow that.

I used to insist that there were proper linesmen, but after watching Wearside League games and below where a sub ‘runs’ the line or a manager sticks the flag in his pocket, I’m a bit more relaxed about that rule these days.

Sometimes though I stumble across a game that I can’t justify counting no matter what and this was the case when out walking near to the King Abdullah park. There were goals, nets even, but no linos and it was just ten a side, although I couldn’t be certain that there hadn’t been a couple of red cards before I turned up. It’s more likely if it had been eleven a side at the start that the missing players had just gone home for their tea.

Best bit though was the way the pitch was marked. Instead of whatever that white stuff is that usually denotes the edges and penalty boxes, rope had been stretched out and pegged to the floor. It looked permanently fixed, or as permanent as rope can be until someone needs to tow their Lexus or lasso a camel.

There were three blokes watching from settees, which is pretty luxurious at any level. I’ve only seen seats like that once before at a game and that was for Sachin Tendulkar in the Owner’s area at a game in India. I’ve no idea if the teams had names, so I’ll just call them Green and Orange after their hi-viz vests. I hung about for a few minutes to watch El Fluorescentio but not a great deal happened and I thought I’d better clear off in case I was freaking them out.

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