Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 10 August 2022

Between hackers and hoggers, life in the AUL

In the first of Paul Ring’s weekly diary pieces, we’re introduced to the ‘mighty Buttevant AFC second team’ for the first time. It’s going to be a long season.

FIRST OFF, A confession. I am, by the lowest standards, an extremely average footballer. Borderline crap.

The following will tell the story of up to as many as 30 extremely average footballers journeying through the jungles of the Cork AUL. It is a tale of woe and wonder.

One of tantrums and embrace. It will be, I hope, a mud and studs account. A roller-coaster of hospital passes, bizarre own goals, wonder-strikes and whisper it: maybe a title shot.

This is the story of the mighty Buttevant AFC second team. Residing in the lowest amateur league in Cork; Division 3 (A).

A brand new side. Moulding grizzled ‘oul warriors and fresh-faced young ‘uns. It started as a whisper over cider in the local and mushroomed into bibs and cones in late July.

Pre-season. That sweet innocence, the faint dewy smell of grass on a pitch. The green punctuated only with brilliant white. Then comes the running. Then the sprinting. Then the lurching.

Doubts don’t creep, they swarm. A severe communications breakdown from the brain to the legs. Every week gets that bit easier however. The muscles gradually accept this is going to continue. The wise old heads who set the pace at the front quicken every week. Footballs are introduced earlier with each passing session. Think I’m beginning to enjoy this.

Despite the fitness improving from non-existent to marginal the practical aspect of pre-season was tough, the obvious physical torment was supplemented by the mental strain of being roundly thrashed in all but one of our warm-up games. They all seem to merge into one continuous beating, us trekking through treacle trying to grasp at clean studs leaving us in their wake.

There were, it must be said, some extenuating circumstances for our incompetence. Each game pretty much meant a new team bar a few faithful (or stupid) souls. A logistical error on Buttevant’s part had us taking on a team four divisions higher than us, at their place, in which the nine-one score line flattered us.

Draw. Loss. Loss. The first three league games came and went as abruptly as that. You don’t need details do you? You don’t need to hear about me impersonating a midfielder? “Get your foot on the ball” was the simple message. Anytime the blessed Mitre had the cheek to drop near me I gave it the shooing it deserved. Passing is none of my business.

D. W. W. W. W. W. D. Yes that reads right and doesn’t it look good? Like a demented Mexican wave. We went to the table-toppers with barely a prayer, and stole a one-nil win.

I had been shifted to centre-half at this point and still treated the ball as something to be feared. The gates opened up for us. Our wingers began skipping past players. Our foot-soldier in the middle morphed into a general. Our striker was curling peaches into the top corner. In stoppage time. Prompting a touchline sprint from the gaffers that shamed Jose.

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So there is your teaser trailer dear reader. The characters have not even been properly introduced yet and I almost didn’t even mention my goal.

More on that sacred event to come.

Paul Ring blogs at A View. He will post a weekly AUL diary for TheScore for the rest of the season.

Email adrianrussell@thejournal.ie if you want to contribute here.

About the author:

Paul Ring

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