Quoting Legolas (referring to one of the incidents mentioned below) ‘For me the grief is still too near’ (in my case, to talk about losing in the Final of the Euros.) I’ll write something tomorrow. In the meantime, to cheer myself up, I made my Top 12 List of Sporting & Other Emotional Traumas. These are things that rocked me to my core at one point or another in my life. (Only time will tell where the Euros end up on this list but right now they’re firmly up there at Number 1.)
No. 12 Empire Strikes Back
This was one of the first films I ever saw in the cinema. I can just remember it and the shock as my friend and I looked at each other. He can’t be his father we repeated to each other afterwards outside. There must have been a mix up in the birth certs.
No 11. When The Housemartins split up.
You youngsters won’t even remember them. ‘Now That’s What I Call Quite Good’ was the first album (vinyl) I ever owned. I remember my friend Niall listened to it and said it was utter shite. He was into Guns ‘n Roses.
No. 10 France losing to Germany in the World Cup Semi Final in 1982.
I loved that French team. Platini, Tigana, Giresse…
In the closing moments, Schumacher, the German goalkeeper, nearly decapitated Battiston as he ran in on goal. France didn’t even get a free kick. Battiston lost two teeth, swallowed his tongue and apparently had to be resuscitated on the sideline. Germany went on to win on penalties. The injustice of it. I couldn’t accept it, couldn’t deal with it. Why can’t something be done I asked my dad over and over.
No. 9 When Daniel Day Lewis didn’t get off with Michelle Pfeiffer in the film ‘The Age of Innocence’
I watched the film in my friend Richard’s house. I was rapt by the story of frustrated love. At the end of the film, you know that feeling when you don’t want to speak and break the magic of what you’ve just seen but I slowly turned around anyway and asked my friend what he thought. ‘Lad, that was the most boring crap I’ve ever seen. I fell asleep for half of it.’
I read the book a few years later while living in Barcelona, I was screaming at the pages, ‘Go up to her apartment!’ even though I knew he wouldn’t. I still wish he had. Better regret something you’ve done than something you haven’t.
No. 8 Bosco
I was five years old when I saw the TV children’s programme Bosco for the first time. I thought it was amazing. I ran excitedly to tell my big sister Roma about it. She said, ‘What?! Bosco is for babies.’ I was devastated. I wasn’t a baby, but yet I did like it.
I watched Bosco again after and did at times enjoy aspects of it but even at five, I was already watching with a certain ironic detachment. The innocence was gone forever.
No 7 When Steffi Graf married Andre Agassi
Steffi, no, why? You married this bald, American, crystal meth smoking, chubby little eejit, when you could have been with me. WTF? We were meant for each other, Steffi. We could have been amazing…
No. 6 Learning about the Birds and the Bees.
I’ll be honest, this one really rocked me on my heels for a while. I hadn’t seen it coming. ‘When a mammy and daddy really love each other… they do WHAT?!!’ I bounced back relatively quickly in fairness and as word got around 5th and 6th class in Askea Boys Primary School that I ‘knew stuff’, I briefly became a mini guru in one corner of the playground educating my peers about an important topic. This didn’t last long and soon rival speakers sprang up around the playground and I can’t be sure that the information being put out there by everyone was 100% accurate or even feasible.
No. 5 Watching Ireland going out of the 2007 Rugby World Cup
I was standing alone on a dark side street in Catania, Sicily watching the match through the window of a closed up bookie shop. There were some homeless people drinking on the ground near me. The match ended. Ireland lost. I looked around. There was no one who understood. I briefly thought about asking one of the homeless men for a hug.
It was nearly midnight and the beautiful people of Catania were coming out for the night. I went back to the hostel, put on my sports clothes and went for a run.
No. 4 My Debs night not turning out as planned
I liked this girl for ages and somehow got the courage to ask her. She was a lovely girl but I was too shy, nervous and really awkward. Near the start of the night she asked me if I could look after her housekey because she had no pockets in her dress. ‘Awww, the key to her heart,’ said one of her friends. ‘No,’ said I, thinking how charmed and impressed she would be by how witty I was, ‘It’s the key to her chastity belt.’ For years, I couldn’t put my finger on where the night started going downhill.
No. 3 When Gandalf fell at the Bridge of Khazad Dum.
I first started reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ when I was really young, about 8 or 9, and I was entranced. I think it took me about five months to read. When Gandalf fell to his doom fighting the Balrog, I remember running into the living room. ‘Daddy, Gandalf’s dead!’ I don’t know how long it took me to get to the ‘The White Rider’ chapter where Gandalf returns. It was probably a couple of months. I must have been really traumatised during that time because I do remember at one point my dad letting slip a hint that maybe Gandalf might return. That’s not like him. He would normally have wanted me to go through the process and earn it. He must have really seen me struggling.
No. 2 Saipan
I was on my way to Italy the day it was announced Keane was being sent home. For four or five days, with no access to the internet I heard nothing and was hoping against hope maybe it was all a bad dream and he’d be back. Then I read an article in an Italian newspaper that I only partly understood. A nice man in a coffee shop helped me to translate it… Keane wanted to come back, it said, but the players didn’t want him back! Anyway, it made as much sense to me in Italian as it did in English at the time.
A couple of months ago, I met an American woman in Washington DC who had been to Saipan. She didn’t really get my excitement. ‘Some football player was there… OK. That’s interesting.’
No. 1 Well, you know…
At the moment, worse than all of the above.