Mrs Tin arrived home yesterday proudly wearing the medal that she and all of the other participants received for running in the Women’s Mini Marathon. This started a discussion as to who in the family has most medals. Someone would boast of a medal from the Three-Legged Race at the School Sports Day, someone else would see their medal and raise them an Egg-and-Spoon Race medal from two years earlier, Mrs Tin was forced to play the card of her Cup-Winner’s medal from the days when she played cricket.
I sat listening, unwilling to blow my own trumpet, because I don’t own a trumpet. But rivalry is a fundamental part of Tinhouse life, and eventually I felt obliged to mention all of my soccer trophies.
For someone who was a fairly average footballer I have an array of these that make me look like an Irish Ronaldo (O’Ronald, perhaps). A couple were won in those five-or-six-a-side competitions that they play in resorts in Ibiza or Majorca on blazingly hot afternoons, where simply being less hungover than the other teams will generally get you at least as far as the semi-final. Back in Ireland I seemed to be lucky in that every team I ever played for had at least one truly outstanding player who would single-handedly drag us through game after game.
The biggest and most impressive of my trophies, though, is one a massively gaudy thing about two feet tall, which I bloody well can’t find just when I wanted to show it to you all. I remember the day well, and am horrified by the fact that it was in 1982, thirty years ago. I remember that I was captain of our team, which is why I still have the trophy. I remember that Mrs Tin and the other girlfriends (WAGs I suppose you’d call them now, though I wouldn’t dare, since I still know quite a lot of them) made pom-poms, learned songs, wore short skirts and acted as cheerleaders (the Tinkids will one day realise that battiness runs deep in their genes, and not just from their father’s side). I remember that the final score was one-nil.
To the others.
Many of our team blamed our goalkeeper for our defeat, reckoning that if only he’d found time to run the length of the field and score a couple of goals in between diving around saving thirty-nine of the forty attempts at goal that the opposition rained in at him from all angles then we’d have won.
There was a booze-up for both teams in a pub afterwards, and the winners displayed the trophy proudly on a table in the middle of the room. Someone on our team suggested it would be funny to take it and hide it, my car was nearest, so trophy was put in my boot.
And funny it might have been if we’d given it back after an hour. Or even two. Even after I’d driven home with it the situation could still have been rescued if I’d returned it the following day, but I chickened out, and by the time the team met again the following Thursday we all agreed that it was now too late. So we kept it, the other team simply believed they’d left it behind in the pub and the incident faded into ancient history.
There is a plaintive phrase often heard in sport. England came out with it after Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup. The US basketball team came out with it after their last-second defeat to the USSR in the 1972 Olympics. We Irish came out when it when Thierry Henry handled the ball twice on the way to setting up the French goal that put us out of the last World Cup. But no-one can say it as truthfully as the football team of Dublin North can.
They wuz robbed.