Category Archives: Competition

‘Are ye Hearts or Hibs?’

englandscotlandfootballAll the debate about the referendum on Scottish Independence recently has made me think about my early childhood in Scotland, in the early 1970s.

One of my first memories is coming down the slide at my nursery school in Edinburgh. I was maybe three or four and I was definitely wearing an orange pinafore and matching hairband, of which I was very proud. I was confronted at the bottom of the slide by a small knot of scary boys who pulled me to one side, encircled me and demanded menacingly ‘are ye Hearts or Hibs?’. It was as if they were speaking a foreign language, I had not the slightest inkling of what they were talking. I remember trying to say I didn’t know, I couldn’t choose. I was scared and nervous as instinctively I must have registered the importance of the question to the questioners. Eventually I think I half-heartedly plumped for ‘Hearts’, it being the only word I recognised, whereupon several of the small inquisitors threw up their hands in despair and walked off in a huff. It was not for another thirty years or so, when I recounted the tale to my husband, that it was explained to me that this was about football and the intensity with which (some) small boys (and girls) approach it. Perhaps the boys in my nursery school thought I had shown some slight promise as someone who could be recruited into the ranks of the Heart of Midlothian or Hibernian supporters, but my evident lack of partisanship made me a disappointing potential ally and I was thereafter left to my own devices by them.

Forty years on, I am living in Manchester, with two devoted football fans of my own in the shape of my sons and one daughter who also anchors memories by remembering not always what happened, or where, but by what she was wearing at the time. ‘Was that the time I wore my yellow summer dress?’ she asked recently, as I reminded her about a wedding we attended when she was four. ‘Ah yes, the butterfly leggings…’ she mused, when discussing a trip to London.

Being in Manchester, of course, means that many of the local children are either avowed Manchester City fans, or Manchester United fans and the rivalry appears to start young and hold fast. My younger son, now aged eight, plumped for City at a very young age to follow his older brother with the helpful coincidence of it being a bit of a purple patch for the Club, so that ‘his’ team were amongst the most successful. He identifies so strongly with the team that he is genuinely and wholeheartedly distraught when they do not perform to his exacting standards and roams around the house randomly kicking sofas and sulking at a draw, let alone a loss. It is not enough, either, that his team succeeds – his enemy must fail and United’s losses are greeted with dances of delight.

A recent school trip to visit the local Old Trafford ground was met with jutting jaw and disgusted silence. Unprecedentedly, the school trip spending money I had pressed into his warm palm in the playground in the morning was returned to me, unspent, in the afternoon. He just couldn’t bring himself to buy anything with United on it, he explained. Not even the sweets. Even a few of the parents appeared to feel the same, with ill-tempered mutterings in the playground about the kids being ‘indoctrinated’ into United, how it wasn’t fair to make City fans go to the home of their fiercest rivals.

I can’t help feeling, in this week of pondering what it means to be British, that the business of football supporting is all, well, a bit un-British. Aren’t we supposed to be famous for supporting the underdog? For coping manfully with defeat after defeat, supportively cheering on our hapless, hopeless teams in the rain and wind and snow, with nothing but a pie and a pint to look forward to? Or does that only apply to our most local teams, or our national team, or our children’s teams? What I see, as someone on the periphery of football fandom in Manchester, is a state of the art stadium, shiny, expensive, mostly foreign players and vastly overpriced shirts and accessories without which a small fan’s life simply isn’t worth living. The live City games – yes, I have been to two now – are undeniably exciting, gladiatorial affairs which I have enjoyed immensely, not least because City won and I did not have to contend with the profound disappointment of my sons on the way home. When I talk to my sons about those matches, they can recall in great detail who scored, from which end and in what minute, who assisted the goals, who was substituted for whom. I remember the chanting and cheering, the feeling of being part of something huge and exciting and watching my children’s flushed, excited cheeks. My daughter remembers that she wore her black wool coat, her fluffy white scarf and the earmuffs she got for Christmas. And that it was fun.

I have really not intentionally encouraged or facilitated my children into such stereotypical roles, but I cannot deny that they fall into them pretty neatly. On the subject of supporting a team, my daughter certainly does appear to feel a degree of disappointment if, say, someone she wants to win on a TV programme is not triumphant. There is, however, a world of difference between her temporary, mild upset expostulating some unfair bias amongst the judging panel of Strictly or Tumble and the existential despair which comes over my younger son when City lose. My older son does not appear to feel quite the depth of despair of his younger brother, so maybe it is something which can be grown out of (although when I see the obligatory Match of the Day shot of men crying in the stands when their team gets relegated at the end of a season, I somehow doubt it.)

I wonder if those small Edinburgh boys are still in their separate Hearts and Hibs camps now that they must be, like me, in their mid-forties? I feel sure that they are: a true fan stays true after all. What I don’t know, though, is whether they will be in the Yes or No camp for the Referendum. Are they going to vote to make me a foreigner in the country I was born in, where my mother was born and died, where my father and sister live, just as they once ignored me for my lack of allegiance to Hibs? I hope not. All I know is that I feel fifty per cent English, fifty per cent Scottish, one hundred per cent British and zero per cent Hearts, Hibs, City or United.

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Filed under Competition, individual development, winning and losing

Skipping a year

photo(4)As a boy, I was good at school and good at school work. Age 7, my family left South London for semi-rural Buckinghamshire. My teacher wished me well and gave me one piece of advice: “Don’t skip a year at school; stay in your own school year.”

This advice, that I never had to act on, came to mind this week.

On Friday night, I was watching no.2 son at the pro-club development centre, talking with a Dad whose son is also at our club about the under 8s season starting the next day.

Mid conversation, I received a text from the under 9s (not under 8s) head coach. He asked me what I thought about no.2 son “occasionally playing a year up in league fixtures” this season, starting as soon as the next morning. I replied that I was fine with that and sure no.2 son would enjoy it. Instructions to the next day’s game followed.

Little was familiar to no.2 son the next day: teammates, coach, format (7-a-side) were all unknown. But a ball is a ball, goals and fields vary but not in their essentials. No.2 son put in a forceful display, scoring a goal, marauding, tackling, passing and showing up well alongside the older kids. He enjoyed himself. And so did I.

Later that day, text from head coach, “Heard he did well!!!” and an invitation to no.2 son to “keep coming along”. I said I would think about it.

And that’s where I am still at. I discussed it with Mrs TL who was cautious. I asked for no.1 son’s views. He was adamant that his brother should stay with his year group. I am probably the most amenable to the idea.

In favour of joining the under 9s is the certainty of weekly 7-a-side matches against other teams. On Saturday, he showed himself ready, physically and emotionally, for that challenge, which would develop his football faster and further than the alternative. With his year group, until Easter, most of the games will be 4 or 5-a-side, within the squad.

I am also conscious that he is in his eleventh month at the development centre. It’s a benefit that could be brought to an end soon, which will upset no.2 son. The status of playing with older boys may be a timely boost to him.

The strongest argument against is that he won’t be playing with his mates. Having his friends as teammates was what restored no.1 son’s enjoyment of football and probably informed his opposition to his brother skipping a year.

I am candid in this blog that I seek and find pleasure following my kids’ sport. So, what’s in it for me? Watching matches, particularly when no.2 son’s game is developing so fast, is more appealing than Saturday practice sessions. But I have a social life, and running with my Touchline Pal, attached to those sessions. I think, therefore, either outcome will meet my self-interest.

We haven’t heard yet from no.2 son. That’s deliberate. I am only prepared to let him know he has options if Mrs TL and I are ready to accede to whichever route he chooses. I strongly suspect it would be to join the under 9s as that would sate his competitive appetite – but might not be in his wider interest.

How have you resolved the question of whether your child should ‘skip a year’ at football, another sport, school or other activity?

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Filed under coach says.., Competition, individual development

After Earth – the competition

After Earth 2After Earth, the new movie starring father and son duo Will and Jaden Smith, focuses on the relationship between the two men – playing father and son. Set centuries in the future, Cypher and Kitai Raige have been stranded on an uninhabitable Planet Earth. Cypher, the Dad, is critically injured and reliant upon his son for survival in a hostile environment.

Touchline Dad has the opportunity to mark the release of this movie with prizes of five After Earth gift bags (containing t-shirt, pens, wallet and USB sticks), provided by Sony Pictures UK. With the film’s focus on the father-son relationship, the competitions are directed towards parents and children working together:

Before After Earth quiz: unravel the clues to name the 8 films featuring father-son relationships. Some of the films will be better known to Dads (and Mums); others will be kids’ favourites. Each clue will be tweeted by @touchline_dad and then added to the quiz post on the blog. Submit your answers as comments to that post. Two winners will be drawn  from all those with the most correct responses received on the blog by midnight, 8 June 2013.

Competition – Your story: what notable thing have you achieved as parent with your child, or as a child with a parent? The two most original or affecting stories, judged by Touchline Dad, will receive After Earth gift bags. We’re looking for something that really required both of you and where you learnt from each other. Tell your story briefly as a comment to this post, or if you have already written about it elsewhere, post a link with brief summary as a comment to this post. Comments will close on 8 June 2013 at 12 midnight.

Competition – Your image: a photo showing a shared achievement of Dad (or Mum) with son (or daughter). The competitor submitting the most striking image, judged by Touchline Dad, will receive an After Earth gift bag. Add a comment to the image to explain its significance. Images should be uploaded to Touchline Dad’s facebook page, by 8 June 2013 at 12 midnight.

Good luck and check out Cypher and Kitai’s struggles with the ultimate Father-Son challenge in After Earth.

The prizes

GoodBag_UK(1)

Terms & Conditions

  • The winners will be selected by Touchline Dad, and only they will be contacted personally. Prize must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. There will be no cash alternatives.

  • Sony Pictures UK and Touchline Daddo not accept any responsibility for late or lost entries due to the Internet or email problems. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt. Entrants must supply full details as required on the competition page, and comply with all rules to be eligible for the prizes.

  • No responsibility is accepted for ineligible entries or entries made fraudulently.

  • Unless otherwise stated, the Competition is not open to employees of: (a) the Company; and (b) any third party appointed by the Company to organise and/or manage the Competition; and (c) the Competition sponsor(s).

  • This competition is a game promoted Touchline Dad. Touchline Dad’sdecision is final in every situation and no correspondence will be entered into.

  • Touchline Dad reserves the right to cancel the competition at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control.

  • Entrants must be UK residents

  • Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by them when entering this competition.

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Before After Earth – the quiz

After Earth 1After Earth, the soon to be released movie starring Will and Jaden Smith, brings father-son relationships to the fore.

This quiz – Before After Earth – tests your knowledge of fathers and sons in movies. There are brief clues – plot summaries – of eight movies. Each will be tweeted first by @touchline_dad before being added to this page.

Once all eight clues have been given, submit your answers as a comment to this post. Two winners from those with the most correct answers will be drawn from those submitted by midnight on 8 June 2013. The winners will receive After Earth gift bags.

Clues:

Movie 1: Single Dad has life disrupted by son – French toast & playground accident
Kramer v Kramer

Movie 2: Two pairs of father & son; one pair are rodents – most are chefs.
Ratatouille

Movie 3: Son leads Dad a merry dance – all the way to the Royal Ballet School
Billy Elliot

Movie 4: Uncle sets a trap. Dad dies saving his son.
Lion King

Movie 5: Two sons of a strict Dad – different in character but sharing a love of trout & fly
A River Runs Through It

Movie 6: Father shields son from the horror of internment by creating a game.
Life Is Beautiful

Movie 7: Father and son share the low of sleeping on subway toilet floor.
The Pursuit of Happyness

Movie 8: A child snatched. A great adventure. A bit fishy?
Finding Nemo – the best Dad and lad movie of them all.

Terms & Conditions

  • The winner will be drawn at random from all the correct entries, and only they will be contacted personally. Prize must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. There will be no cash alternatives.

  • Sony Pictures UK and Touchline Daddo not accept any responsibility for late or lost entries due to the Internet or email problems. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt. Entrants must supply full details as required on the competition page, and comply with all rules to be eligible for the prizes.

  • No responsibility is accepted for ineligible entries or entries made fraudulently.

  • Unless otherwise stated, the Competition is not open to employees of: (a) the Company; and (b) any third party appointed by the Company to organise and/or manage the Competition; and (c) the Competition sponsor(s).

  • This competition is a game promoted Touchline Dad. Touchline Dad’sdecision is final in every situation and no correspondence will be entered into.

  • Touchline Dad reserves the right to cancel the competition at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control.

  • Entrants must be UK residents

  • Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by them when entering this competition.

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Filed under Competition