Football was not what I thought it would be

IN 2003 Australian football legend Johnny Warren released his biography on the 50-year journey he made through the sport from a nine year old to leading the Socceroos through three World Cup campaigns from 1964-1974

The title of the book - Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters - pretty much summed up my thoughts on soccer players when I was growing up. Don't take too much offence, I used to think the same of aussie rules players.

But after watching more games of football live than I ever had last season, and enduring a pre-season training session with Bingera Football Club I was shown how wrong I was.

The three lessons I learned from being a spectator, and training under Laurie Stephenson and Paul Jenner, will be taken with me for the rest of my sporting life.

Lesson 1: Football players are not soft. Watching YouTube videos of players acting like they had been hit by bullet can be funny, but it rarely happens here in Bundaberg. When a man is over the ball I used to think 'why don't you just run into him and knock him over, get the ball and score?' easier said than done. Despite not being the lightest player on the training paddock I couldn't move my opposition off the ball and when I was hit it wasn't a little love tap.

ON THE BALL: NewsMail sports journalist Ben Turnbull training with the Bingera Football Club at Martens Oval. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
ON THE BALL: NewsMail sports journalist Ben Turnbull training with the Bingera Football Club at Martens Oval. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Lesson 3: I am glad you pick the ball up in aussie rules. Getting the ball off an opponent, going around them - I tried once and failed - and giving it to another player among a seas of feet was hard. But add the pressure of a game situation where there would be no slack given to the visiting sports journo and it would be even tougher.

The only saving grace for me was I went through pain and embarrassment of netball training three nights before, I think my fitness was built up on the court and made it through football not to badly.

I'll watch football players with even more respect this season, unless they dive like Didier Drogba, and from the sideline I'll appreciate the fitness, skill and toughness over the ball at whole new level.

 

Football

Pain rating: 3/5* ice baths

* With only a couple of night rest from netball training I still remembered the pain pretty clearly, and I had to knock a point off.