No Ball Games

Aside from sharing a tent with Jedward there is nothing more terrifying to me than being required to kick a football. My comprehensive and unfailing ineptitude at almost all ball games is staggering. I can't blame middle age – I've always been the same.

Even the most basic skill of throwing a ball to someone directly in front of me was more than I could ever muster. Whenever I played cricket at school I longed to be batting - the only task that excused me from having to throw or catch a ball. If I did happen to be fielding I'd be sure to stand as far away as possible to avoid the humiliation of trying to throw the ball back.

Little in adulthood compares to the pubescent shame of standing in a line waiting to be picked for a football team - and being the one that nobody wants.

While the pickers were strapping lads with premature facial hair, the body of talent from which they picked would soon thin out (was this what Darwin meant?) leaving just me and a quiet boy called Colin who never seemed to wash.

Finally being picked (grudgingly) would invariably mean the further humiliation of being "Skins". This required me and my teammates to remove our shirts so as to identify ourselves during the game. There are probably laws against that now.

I faired better in sports with no balls. Cross country running, the long jump, finger-knitting. Then I discovered golf. True, there is a ball involved but I was neither required to throw it nor catch it.

Armed with two-toned patent shoes, fetching Farrah slacks and a leather glove, I had found my calling. I played in County matches, persuaded the school to allow me to play golf instead of taking an English class (that explains a lot), and even briefly considered it as a career. Then I got a "proper" job and beyond going to work, doing work and coming home from work, so there was no time for golf or sports of any kind anymore. It's probably for the best - singing's far easier and I never have to take my shirt off.

My old ball phobias have never left me, though. Even today I dread walking past a group of fellas having a kick-about. If a stray ball should roll dangerously close my feet, I'm faced with a dilemma. Either I attempt a well meaning, but pitiful kick in the wrong direction, or it ignore it altogether and get called "wanker". I choose the later, every time. It's my little revenge for being left standing, with hope in my heart and never being picked for the team.