I mentioned in this column a couple of weeks ago my long and undistinguished career as a rugby referee, which followed a longer career as a player, writes Dave Kent.
Sport was an important part in life, earlier as a player, now exclusively as a sports follower.
I did play rugby union, football, cricket, squash, Australian rules football and now I get some sort of vicarious pleasure in following some of these.
Football has fallen off my radar, with the relentless media coverage and lack of a local club to support, although I am considering supporting Forest Green Rovers.
But I did play football for my London college, and also for Soho in the London Sunday morning league as goalkeeper at exotic places like Wormwood Scrubs, Hampstead Heath, and Hackney Marshes.
There is no better sensation in sport than diving to pluck the ball from the toes of an opponent about to score. Except when you get kicked in the head.
I played Sunday morning football in north London, becoming aware of the intense hatred between Spurs and Arsenal supporters, and with their love of their own team not as strong as their hatred of the other.
They didn’t mind losing if the other club had also lost.
I became a dedicated Sunday football goalkeeper, finishing my career for St Briavels in the Sunday leagues of the 1970s.
The highlight of Forest rugby season in those early days was the Forest Combination cup, a fiercely contested knock-out cup,
Cinderford, Lydney and Berry Hill just putting in their second teams, but the rest of us, Yorkley, Bream, Drybrook, Westbury and sometimes Ross-on-Wye took it very seriously.
Berry Hill second XV were very strong in those days, and I remember a 60-point defeat by them one year at Berry Hill’s ground.
Along with County cup, and friendly matches, these competitions are now sacrificed to the league fixture schedule, and Forest cricket is now almost exclusively league based.
I can claim the possible unique distinction of playing three sports either for or against Bream.
Bream was my forest rugby club as a player, but I played against the village as cricketer for St Briavels and Parkend and as goalkeeper for St Briavels in the Sunday league in the 1970s.
Whatever happened to squash? It seemed that everyone used to play the sport, but it’s disappeared from the sporting world now.
I played in courts at Berry Hill, Lydney, Brightlands School at Newnham and, when I worked in Cardiff, at Maindy Sports Centre. It’s interesting to play but tedious to watch and to practise.
The only way to improve is to practise same shot over and over again, bouncing the ball back against the wall inside the claustrophobia-inducing confines of a possibly underground court. Perhaps that caused its demise.
I had a brief career, not in the Forest, in Australian Rules Football, informally known as Aussie Rules, even more informally as ‘Footy’.
It’s an 18 a side game with a pitch 200 yards long, and you should try to keep the ball on the pitch, except when scoring a goal.
Rugby full backs like me have to be re-wired not to kick for touch.
There are no such offences as forward passes or offside. I’m not sure what the umpires (not referees) have to do, with no forward passes or offsides to adjudicate, and no scrum skullduggery to resolve.
It gets crowds of 130,000 in Melbourne, but I can’t see it taking off over here.