New Year’s Resolutions – The Follow Up

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions is never an easy thing.

We start off the New Year with all the best intentions but invariably we succumb to our weaknesses and by the end of January we’re back doing all the stuff that we said we wouldn’t do and are not doing the stuff that we said we would.

But I am determined to do better this year.

A case in point being the resolution to “Do More Exercise”.

So with that in mind, I found myself heading to a sports hall in the outskirts of Antwerp yesterday evening to take part in my first game of indoor football in 9 months.

With a couple of games of squash, pushing my luck, running up bar bills and chasing after women the only forms of exercise that I’ve been pursuing in the interim, it was not before time that I got myself back onto a football court.

Little did we know as we set off from the café at 18:15 yesterday evening just how eventful the evening was to become.

Taking two cars with six “strapping athletes” / “overweight beer monsters” (delete where applicable), we set off to the game.

In no particular order the cars were populated by:

DJ Bram - a guy who shared his birthday with the late Pope John Paul II
Stefan – Man United fanatic, so therefore not that knowledgeable about football.
Mark – Former marine and tri-athlete with the emphasis on ‘former’
G-Man – The granddaddy of the group but as an ex-professional footballer a lot was expected from him (based on his own build up)
PopTart – My good mate from Cork, the wizard on the ball, the guy is a legend. In his head.
And me, your humble scribe.

As we headed off, my car in lead, with Mark following behind, we deftly weaved our way through the Antwerp rush hour.

Unfortunately, not quite sure of which direction I had to go and somewhat confused by the sign posts (certainly not the first time that that has happened to me in Belgium!), I ended up in the wrong lane and tried a quick manoeuvre into the lane to my right to rectify the situation.

A manoeuvre that proved to be too quick for the gentleman who was driving up alongside me.

Before I noticed my mistake, our cars collided, the right side of mine embracing and kissing the left side of his.

Pulling out of the madness of the traffic and cursing myself, we started to deal with the formalities of the insurance details.

Having spent my entire existence in Belgium slagging off the driving abilities of the locals, I have to put my hands up and say that the accident was entirely my fault.

I also have to say that the guy who I crashed into was probably the nicest, calmest victim of a crash in the world.


I would even go as far as to say that if I ever had the misfortune of crashing again, I would choose to do it with this guy (although he might not be so keen).

Along with our insurance details, we swapped, jokes, cigarettes, football stories, although I drew the line at swapping saliva with him. His wife didn’t look so amused but as he kept saying… “Shit happens”.

So once the details were shared, we then went on our journey again – with the guy that I crashed into actually saying “Follow me out of town and I’ll show you where you’re supposed to be going”

Stefan, the wit, followed that comment with a “Make sure you don’t follow him too closely”

After all that excitement, we arrived on the football court at 19:15, a mere fifteen minutes later than planned. 15 minutes that we were glad of not having played, come the end of the hour.

We met up with the other three players that had turned up:

“Monster” Mons – top bloke from Libya and the chief organiser of the game
Crazy Legs Gerd – a tall Belgian whose long legs have a habit of taking the ball off you and finally,
Tony, an English fella who we hadn’t met before but endeared himself instantly to me by turning up wearing a Liverpool shirt.

The game itself was an entertaining affair.

Because of the odd number, we had to split into two teams of 5 and 4, but the numerical advantage didn’t seem to have much affect at first; the team of 4 (Gerd, Mons, Tony and me) streaking off into a 2-goal lead. The first a tap-in by me after some good teamwork and the second a thunderbolt from distance by Tony.

The team of five looked rattled.

Suddenly however, the game turned with 2 goals coming in short succession restoring parity.

2-2 and game on.

A bit of tit-for-tat goal-scoring ensued that saw the scores go to 3-4 in favour of the team with only 4 players, the fourth a particularly memorable goal (at least for me) when I turned Mark inside out and from a narrow angle blasted the ball high and hard into the roof of the net, leaving the G-Man, who was in goal, with absolutely no chance. The fact that he was wearing a ManYoo shirt at the time making it all the more satisfying.

The game continued at pace and it wasn’t long before I hit the physical wall of pain. My nose was running and my throat felt like I had swallowed broken glass.

I went into goal, relieving The Monster of goalkeeping duty.

The Monster, having already notched his team’s third goal, seemed energised by being released from the shackles of the goal and buried a sweet shot from distance after some good work on the right by Gerd.

5-3 to us!

And then disaster struck.

A 50-50 challenge between the Monster and PopTart resulted in a sickening crunch that saw Mons hobbling off the field and in search of some medical attention, citing a possible broken ankle as the problem.

A quick reshuffle and with the teams now an even four players each, G-Man taking the wise option and opting to join the winning team, we restarted the game.


The guy was injured; there was nothing we could do for him. He was going to go to hospital. We’d paid for an hour and had already missed a quarter of it. He said he would be ok. He told us to play on!


Anyway. Where was I?

Oh yes - the game continued to ebb and flow and goals went in at both ends, with all of us registering at least a goal or two, although it has to be said that my own contribution was quite significant – raining shot after shot on the goal and some of them actually hitting their intended target from time to time.

Then, with the scores at 7-7, disaster struck again, G-man citing a broken toe as the result of a fairly innocuous looking tackle. He did however, play on, the loss in speed barely noticeable, because, well because he wasn’t that fast to begin with…

Shortly afterwards, we got the hat trick, when Mark joined the fast growing list of casualties.

After ghosting past me with a shimmy and a body swerve that a young John Travolta on the dance floor would have been proud of, he inexplicably stumbled over the ball and tore a muscle in his ankle.

Thankfully he was able to drag himself from the court as it could have been difficult trying to move him on our own, if you know what I mean…

So with 4 against 3, and one of those with a broken toe, the game it has to be said went a little stale. General fitness (or lack of it) was becoming an issue and we chopped and changed to try and keep things fairly even.

A tactic which seemed to work as the game finished 10-10.

It was with some relief that we greeted the players who had booked the court for the following hour - relief that we could retire to the bar and relief that the rest of us had made it to the end of the game without too much incident.

After showering, we joined a fairly forlorn looking Monster at the bar, nursing his exposed foot with some ice.

So, as we drank our non-alcoholic drinks, we made our arrangements for the following week, injuries permitting.

I’m pleased to admit that the car-journey back to Antwerp was pretty uneventful although PopTart and I went for a few drinks afterwards (to “work off all that exercise”) that were anything BUT uneventful.

Disgraceful behaviour for a Monday night but we deserved it – after all, we’re back doing regular exercise now, aren’t we?

( + 2 damaged cars / 3 damaged bodies / several bruised egos)