Being a goalkeeper was a lonely existence which suited me down to the ground. On arrival at the Big School, cross-country running soon took its place as the only activity I was any good at. It transpired that I could run quite fast, as long as it was over uneven ground, past foliage, through puddles, and between trees.
Again, as with my career in goalkeepery, this was perfect for a young aesthete such as myself. Firstly, it was a reasonably safe option. There was very little danger of being tackled, and still less danger of being knocked out or impaled by a badly aimed projectile.
It also afforded ample opportunity to let my thoughts rise above the mundanity of everyday school life, and tackle the real issues: Can Mark Mitchelson really arrest me just because his Dad is a policeman? Will I get into trouble if I go the Long Way Home tonight? Is it true there’s a school in America where you don’t have to do any work?
I had done it again. I’d found a sport that allowed me to ponder life’s great mysteries, to extract myself from the unseemly business of being about 13. Not for me the painful bewilderment of being hit in the face by a size 5 mouldmaster football. Not for me the missing teeth and brutalised shins of a hockey team changing room. Never for this thoughtful child the twisted human carnage of an adolescent rugby scrum.
And crucially, as with keeping goal, my newly adopted sport had its place in outsider art – as a film that would for years allow me to pretend I’d read the book of the same name. It completely validated my choice and confirmed my long held belief - that I was a misunderstood antihero. From assembly until lunch. Every Thursday.