The Danny Chips Column
College second team skipper, Danny Chips, gives us the pre-season installment of his take on life in football Div 5.
As I stare lovingly over my laptop at the carefully ironed college shirt hanging on the door, having just re-watched the same Darius Vassell YouTube goals compilation for the nineteenth time today, my thoughts drift away from the bespectacled football of my head towards pastures Cantabrigian and the first game of the 13/14 season.
My first season as captain.
A sudden panic strikes. I begin to sweat – anxiety envelops me – what if it’s all too much responsibility? What if the team deserves better?!?
Relax, I tell myself, pausing to look down at the brand new pair of Umbro Specialis already snuggling my feet like two little leather Brad Guzans clasping two identically soft Kenwyne Jones penalties. “Relax,” I say again “this is what you were born to do. This is the inevitable goal at the end of the meandering Matt Le Tissier dribble that has been your college football career thus far. Besides, all those transferable skills you’ve picked up from the first year of your arts degree will surely see you through any serious problems, won’t they mate? You’ll be fine.”
I take a deep breath. Even though I’ve only been wearing these boots everywhere for the past two weeks now, in many ways I regard my whole life to date as a kind of twenty-year pre-season. The games of my youth and last year’s campaign will probably be considered important by future statisticians and biographers, but this season is the real deal, and I owe it to College and myself to challenge for the League, and hopefully make some serious headway in the Cup.
Life in Division 5 is by no means a walk in the park, though. It’s a fast-paced league where fitness and finesse combine to create a sporting environment something akin to 22 shinpad-wearing pigs fighting over a football made of slops, and the tension can occasionally spill over into nasty confrontations. Now these arguments aren’t usually all that physical, and as a pacifist I try to rise above these things, but I will say this – if you mess with these Chips, you’d better believe you’re gonna get mayo on your fingers.
Consequently, I have a number of running gripes with a couple of the more contentious characters of the Fifth Tier. In particular last season’s run-in with one guy from Girton they call The Goose Man looks set to add a pinch of spice to this year’s football curry; I’m not comfortable with divulging the specifics of the 90 minutes of grief he gave me, and I don’t even know how the hell he got that nickname, but by God that goose is gonna honk when he sees me next.
By the way, I should say now that I don’t care at all that I was overlooked for a spot in the Firsts. I don’t give a shit about the flawed trial system that didn’t recognise real talent and instead selected a collection of by-the-book auto-correct vanilla-balled wankers without an iota of footballing creativity amongst them. Evidently there was no room at the inn for genuine originality and flair in the ‘top’ side: ‘Sorry Danny, you’ve got the positional awareness of a gherkin and every time you try to head the ball you scream like a baby’, which pretty much means they could neither handle my maverick approach to the game nor my effective and distinctive method of calling for high balls. Their loss.
Anyway yeah, I seriously don’t mind about it. As a natural leader with a keen sense of duty I probably would’ve ended up volunteering as Seconds captain had I been in the Firsts. I actually get on really well with their captain, who has pretty similar banter to me I think – affectionately aggressive. We email quite often, and I recently sent him one about a potential overhaul of the trial system to favour less conventional players. He just wrote, ‘Alright Chipsy, fuck off.’
Says it all really, great banter from a great guy.
For the next few weeks I’m going to have my work cut out devising a method of measuring the footballing talent of incoming freshers from their Facebook profile pictures. The commitment of the Seconds to developing young talent has never been in question, but attempts to calculate heading ability from estimates of brow size are at present in a germinal stage (my initial hypothesis of a direct correlation between the two has been thwarted by the mystery of Gervinho always missing aerial sitters in spite of his unmistakable fivehead), and so further research is required before any concrete conclusions can be reached.
Until then, dreams of Seconds glory sustain me – October, roll on, I dare you.