Football Dad shifted uncomfortably on his stool, at the back of the room.
‘Okay, awesome, great to see everybody dancing!’ shrieked Weird Lady’s Sister. ‘What an awesome party we’re having!’
A lengthy and painful crackle emanated from the battered speakers, and across the clubrooms.
Weird Lady’s Sister had dropped the microphone right in front of the subwoofer.
‘Ooops!’ she shrieked as she retrieved it from the floor. ‘Time for Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire.’
Football Mum was not impressed.
‘Do you think she knows it’s a song about sexually transmitted diseases?’ she whispered into Football Dad’s ear. ‘I mean, for Christ’s sakes – it’s a junior football club prizegiving!’
‘I know, I know … I said to them “just hire a digital jukebox”,’ Football Dad explained. ‘It was going to cost them $100. But apparently, this woman “has experience” and offered to do it for free.’
He shrugged his shoulders at Football Mum.
‘Experience at what?’ she whispered. ‘Drinking Cody’s and teenage pregnancy?’
Trying desperately to suppress a huge belly laugh, he grabbed Football Mum round the waist.
The Eldest One came running over, two friends in tow, waving sausage rolls. Pastry crashed to the floor in front of Football Dad, small chunks the size of 10 cent pieces.
‘You couldn’t find some fruit or something?’ Football Mum asked hopefully.
‘We’re going outside,’ announced the Eldest One.
Before she could utter another word, the PA crackled again.
‘Okay, that was Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins!’ chirped Weird Lady’s Sister.
The club’s Junior Co-ordinator wrenched the microphone from Weird Lady’s Sister’s hand.
‘We’ll start the formalities,’ he boomed. ‘All the kids, you find your coaches now.’
A clusterbomb of kids exploded across the room, the noise of giggling, yelling and whooping reaching a deafening crescendo in the old 1970s pre-fab building.
A silence fell across the room. Junior President had their attention now.
‘I’d like to start by thanking the ladies in the kitchen,’ he said, inflating his chest. ‘Lovely spread tonight, you’ve outdone yourself.’
Football Mum’s patience was wearing thin. She mimicked putting her finger down her throat, and the motion of a decent chunder.
‘Stop it,’ giggled Football Dad.
‘Budget soft drinks, sausage rolls and polonies,’ Football Mum whispered venomously in his ear. ‘All the food groups covered.’
The prizegiving dragged on for what seemed like hours. 40 minutes in – one speech from The Droning Pom in charge of the 9th-grade kids lasted 10 minutes – the Youngest One’s team was called to the front.
Weird Lady began an elaborate tale of the team’s fortunes. Football Dad rested his head on Football Mum’s shoulder and emitted a low and slow groan.
The Youngest One scored the obscure and not very coveted award for ‘Being Nice to Everybody’.
‘Could be worse,’ Football Mum chuckled. ‘At least she didn’t win the “Always Trying But Never Quite Scoring a Goal Award”.’
Main photo: Credit unsplash.
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About Football Dad
Football Dad is a collection of stories by Waikato writer and football fan Jeff Neems. The full collection of stories appear in an ebook you can buy here through Amazon.
Football Dads are everywhere … and not just in football.
They’re the parent who volunteers to help with their kids’ sports team – or who are left with the job when other parents go missing. This well-crafted volume of amusing columns comes from a father who has spent many hours travelling to and from games, tirelessly helping his kids as they take up The Beautiful Game.
Through Football Dad you’ll meet the oddballs he meets on the sidelines and in the clubrooms. Many a parent will recognise these characters … and smile.
Football Dad’s collection of stories were originally published in the award-winning football magazine The Range, published by WaiBOP Football. They have also appeared in FANZ, the official magazine of Friends of Football.