Eastbourne Life with Graham Walker: Family pride

Graham Walker
Graham Walker

“There’s no point. We are going to lose” was my youngest son’s reaction to a game of football that pitched the Walker boys against the local hotshot and his friend. For the next half an hour I charged around the (huge) pitch with my two boys idling about as goalie and ‘goal hanger’. My boys were over the moon that we just edged the game. Though I’m not sure a grown man of almost fifty should take too much satisfaction from the result when our opponents were eight and ten years old!

Three days later and my left knee is still painfully swollen. I am limping around the house with my wife frequently reminding me of the consultant’s advice “No more running and definitely no more football.” I smile through gritted teeth and nod in agreement. “Never again, that’s my final lesson” I say to my wife to reassure her. But as she brings me yet another cup of tea as I lay on the sofa with a bag of frozen peas on my knee, I am dreaming of minor sporting glories of a past life and feeling happy that our family pride is intact for another week.

I was sad to see Gary Speed on the front pages of the national newspapers again today. It’s good to see them showing some restraint in their reporting of the inquest. Gary Speed was famous for being a great football player and the footballing public has made their respect for him clear during recent weeks. There is no evidence of foul play in the cause of his death. So it would be nice to think that the media –with the phone hacking scandal still ringing in their ears - will respect his memory and the lives of his wife and children. Headlines that sell papers today could affect his children for years to come. None of us need to know what his wife and he may or may not have been arguing about in the days before his death. Gary Speed RIP.

For many years I have been a season ticket holder at the football club in the place where I grew up in London. I’ve followed my team through all four divisions with the last ten years being the most successful in the club’s history. I don’t understand people who follow premiership teams solely from the sofa or the pub. There’s only one way to properly support a team and that’s by going to games. That means being prepared for a lot of travel or supporting one of your local sides.

I’ve already been to watch Eastbourne Town with my oldest son. Lovely atmosphere and my son enjoyed running behind the goal to fetch the ball. Ashamed to admit I have yet to see Borough play though I will put that right in the next few weeks. Who better to ask which team to support than a local taxi driver? “I’m Eastbourne born and bred mate but I have to admit I follow Brighton” was the reply. Then added “It’s a lovely stadium but the best thing is the steak and ale pie served so hot it was the second half before I could eat it!” A great recommendation for the pies but I think there is probably place for only one big club in my life.

For now, I think I go and watch Borough, Town and United with the boys and see how our affections grow in the coming months.

• grahamcwalker@googlemail.com

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