I’ve retired from playing football two times. The first time I was 25, just returned from six months in London, and without a regular game of fives to join I chose to ‘retire’. Though I wasn’t so much retired as abandoned. I didn’t mind though, I just wanted to run and I concentrated on half-marathons (and eating cake) instead.
The second time I retired was when I was 34 and I’d snapped my ankle. I’d started playing again after a new game had started through work on an indoor pitch near my flat. After 18 months, I mistimed a tackle, snapped an ankle ligament and ended up in the Victoria Infirmary x-ray department. “12 weeks to heal” they said. 12 weeks later I walked out onto the pitch, ran scared from any tackles, then played on a further three months to show I’d overcome it. Then, I retired. This time, definitely, officially, over. Football is a stupid game, and people get hurt. People like me.
This time I retired until 18 months ago. A new job. A weekly game. A good chance to get to know the people I worked with. I’ve been playing regularly since then in a freezing cold shed in Falkirk and tonight I’ll swap a running session for a game of football. I know it’s not in the training program and I’ve got more chance of injuring myself but, despite retiring, I still like to play, just slower and with even less skill than when I was 25. Then home for some cake. I’ve never retired from cake.