Tell A Tale in 500 Words
A Game of Two Halves By Michael North
A Game of Two Halves
I told Ed he didn’t have to come and watch me play for Yeadon Town because he can’t stand football. But the real reason was that I’m not ‘out’ to the lads, so it’s hard for me to be who I am when I’m with them. But he came because he wanted to support me, which I get, but when you’re part of a team of masculine blokes, it’s difficult to stand up for what you are. I have to... fit in. it’s just awkward, y’know?
I saved a penalty in the last minute, which meant we got a 1-1 draw to keep us on the verge of promotion. Then, at the final whistle, Ed started screaming and shouting and invaded the pitch to hug me. Well that was it, I told Ed not to come to the pub, as I’d already have enough explaining to do. He wasn’t happy and went home in a huff. So, that’s two battles I will have to sort out today!
As soon as I entered the pub, I noticed some of he lads were being ‘funny’ with me. I wanted to run away but that would be too obvious so tried to act natural. Then Johnno, our big-gob centre-half and chief bigot, asked if I was a ‘sausage-jockey’. Of course I denied it, but then Craig piped up that he’d seen me walk into the local gay pub a few weeks earlier and so I bit the bullet and came clean. I got a bit of stick from some of the lads, but most were supportive, which was a relief, but word soon got round. I was desperate to carry on playing for the club, especially as we were so close to promotion, but manager Alf said that, for the sake of team morale, my services would no longer be required. I was devastated.
Yeadon missed out on promotion, which gave me mixed emotions. I tried to sign for another local team but nobody would take the risk. Then, when Ed and I were shopping one day, he had an idea – to start a gay-friendly team. I told him he was bonkers but, after a couple of weeks, I came arounnd to the idea.
We started recruiting gay lads to form a new team - United United. We trained four times a week and I was not only the goalkeeper, but captain and manager, whilst Ed was physio and assistant manager! We took some stick at first, but then playing in gold shorts was always going to be controversial!
At the start of the season we were bottom of the league and struggling. We just couldn’t score enough goals. Eventually we managed to sign a couple of lads to strengthen the team, including one from Yeadon town. A month or so later we started climbing the league and ended up a respectable mid-table. But, you know what? We beat Yeadon home and away and finished five places above them. Bring on next season....
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