There were only three boys playing but they were having the time of their life. No boots, no grass and a ball so battered you would swear...

Reading through all the transfer rumours and the millions of Pounds being spent, as well as the inclusion of goal line technology, at more than the GDP of a small country that shall not be mentioned for fear of liable, it got me thinking that football has become too big for its’ boots. For example Fenerbahce spent £1 million on Dirk Kuyt. Now the lad did score a few goals in his time and has represented his country, but I have seen four legged animals with a better touch than the aging 32 year old. Ok he can run, but so can a horse and you would pay much less for the horse. I was much surprised and quite excited to see Kuyt’s amateur club listed as ‘Quick Boys’ which I thought was rather apt.

Anyway getting back to my point that football is too big for its boots, I was driving out of town not so long ago and witnessed an impromptu game of football in an informal settlement. There were only three boys playing but they were having the time of their life. No boots, no grass and a ball so battered you would swear they had just pulled it from Vinny Jones’ bedroom cupboard. This was pure football. Fun and lasting as long as the sun stayed out. And it got me thinking about my first love for the sport and the excitement of my first real kit or my first pair of boots.

A brand new pair of Puma Jomo Sono was my first pair of football boots. Not the leather kind but the plastic equivalent with the aptly named milk studs. I remember losing one of the studs and they were not screw-ins, though this didn’t stop me playing hours more in them. I walked around the house in them, slept in them, even walked to and from practice in them. It was not uncommon to get dressed on a Saturday morning game day and stay wearing my boots until bedtime that night. I wonder if the stars of today did that when they were young. I like to think they did, that they all started just like you and me. Playing because they loved it, because it was a chance to be with their friends and kick a ball.

Add a few million pounds and some fanatical supporters and suddenly the game has changed to a win-at-all-costs scenario. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when my team wins but don’t tell my mates… I prefer playing or watching good football.