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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 22 October 2020

Between hackers and hoggers: life in the AUL

There’s no under-soil heating beneath theses pitches. As Paul Ring learned this weekend.

Image: Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport

IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. You plan your weekend around the match.

We were scheduled to collide with Newmarket at half two on Sunday but it fell foul of the dreaded frost. It wasn’t so much that I had my game face on that disappointed, but I had washed the gear.

Added the softener and all, me, personally. No longer would my gear bag belch a stench of mud and sweat upon opening.

I had made a stand and now it lies dormant. It’s lavender scent cocooned inside.

The game was to be played away from home. There is an anointed time and designated place to meet. Those who perhaps lived a nocturnal existence the night before sheepishly head into the supermarket and trust in the magic restorative powers of Lucozade sport.

Those of a fresher variety trust in the pre-match breakfast or chicken roll to make the difference in the last 15 minutes.

Yes, the away day is special. Our first one this season turned into a disaster as it was played on a Tuesday night. Fellas tired from work, not entirely sure about the directions ( it is a Rafa-sized fact that no amount of iPhones or sat-navs can compete with a stranger pointing directly ahead).

Having eventually found our way we crammed into the obligatory portakabin and changed. I always seem to picture that Father Ted episode with Graham Norton and the caravan at this point.

The first real sign you are in trouble is if the home side have tracksuits on. Worse still if cones are spread out at some intricate angle. That particular day we were the prey. They, all buzz and intent, mercilessly put us away.

It got better though. We haven’t lost away since and there has been some real highlights. In no particular order there was the trip in which a bus was hired and some much-needed team bonding took place. There are few better places to be of a Saturday evening than on a bus rolling around green hills with raucous laughter ringing in your ears.

There was the three-one win at the wonderfully-named Los Zarcos which featured a spectacular og and a goal from one of our own from the halfway line. He admitted afterwards he was too tired to run so he just lashed it on the volley.

With each passing week its legend has grown to the extent that in a year’s time he will have launched his miracle shot from our six-yard line.

We met on Sunday morning expectant and eager for the upcoming game which was going to be something of a local derby. There were doubts during the week as to whether or not the game would go ahead but 90 minutes before kick-off no word had reached us. Having reached the car and strapped in, the gaffers came running towards us. Arms flailing. Game off.

We will try again next Sunday at nine in the morning this time.

I’m checking the forecast before I clean the boots though.

Paul Ring blogs at A View. Read his first two installments here and here.

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Paul Ring

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