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Just signed up here so thought I'd introduce myself...

 

My name's Paul, im 27, and live on the Wirral, near Liverpool. I live with my Missus, Mary, and our 7 month old boy, Joshua. Im a Teaching Asst in a secondary school working with Special Needs kids, and coach the Year 11 football team, who are pretty shit tbh, but have got much better since someone decided to give a shit about them.

 

Enough of that bollox anyway! I've played in goals since I was 11, when my junior team, Greenleas, got beaten by a team because they had a goalkeeper who could kick far. I had by far the biggest and hardest kick in my team (from swimming for Liverpool & North West and training 7 days a week, sometimes twice a day). So I was moved from right wing/forward to between the sticks.

 

I played for Greenleas from the age of 8 until I was 18, and we were a pretty successful team. A couple of players have made pro - Jonny Walters has just signed for Stoke from Ipswich and Mike Keegan travelled around - Swansea, Crewe and Kidderminster before he was forced to retire. We won several cup competitions before we were 16, and then finally signed the missing pieces we had craved, and we won the double in our last season, without losing a game, and conceding only single figure goals.

 

From the age of 20 - 24 I went to Uni and had to work weekends, so I only played for my uni team, NEWI, in the BUSA league. We were alright, a good bunch of lads from Wrexham, some of whom were absolute nutters, and we were far too physical for many other teams, who had far better players but didnt fancy the dirty stuff. I ended up being given the captaincy in my final year, and earned "half-colours" for my services.

 

When I got the job in the school I could start playing weekends again, and signed for a team I had played for a couple of times for the season before, and who had been on at me to sign for a while. They had another lad in goal "doing them a favour" but he was god-awful. Couldnt kick, couldnt catch, didnt talk. The team is called the Houlihans, or the Hoolies for short, and we play in the Houlihans Birkenhead Sunday League, division 2. We have been promoted twice in the last 3 seasons, just missing out last season, but we're hoping to amend that this season.

 

Ive had my fair share of injuries recently, and probably should have hung up my gloves, but i'd miss it too much. Ive been carrying a groin injury for the past 2 years or so that flares up after every match. I can kick the ball sound out of my hands, but goal kicks are a different gravy. It bloody kills. Ive had a couple of sessions of physio and acupuncture on it (something I never believed in, but it really does work) and Ive just started taking goal kicks again in last nights match, and it feels much better. The physio told me its because ive got "great quads" ;) and all that power gets concentrated in a small muscle called the adductor which basically stops the quad muscle detaching itself from the bone. Sounds lovely dunnit!

 

Ive also got really dodgy ankles, I have to wear a pretty sturdy ankle support so i can kick off the ground. The curse of the gym floor unfortunately, turned over on it far too many times over the years, and prob needed operations but you know the script, there's always a big game on sunday, and all that.

 

Ive also just come back from having a varicose vein operation on my right leg, had the left one done about 6 years ago, and well, I fancied watchin the World Cup so I booked myself in again! My surgeon tells me the varicose veins come from years of playing in goal, the blood cant travel back up the leg, and is forced back by blood travelling down the leg, causing the vein to pop. Just wondering if anybody else has any varicose veins???

 

So far this season ive played 2 pre-season friendlies and 3 league games. The pre-season friendlies were a bit of a shock to the system. We played 2 excellent teams from a couple of leagues above us, i had hadnt even had a training session since the vein operation. In the first game we were 5-1 down after an appalling 1st half against the wind. A much better 2nd half performance saw me make a couple of decent 1-1 saves, and we were eventually beaten 5-3 but by the end my legs had gone. It was a really heavy kicking game for me, and it took it out of me. By the time the 2nd game came round I had trained a couple of times, and been on my bike every day, and felt much better. We won this game 3-1, but I had our right back kicking for me, as my groin was very sore from the last match.

 

The league games have seen us win our 1st match comfortably 4-0, with me not really havin much to do apart from collecting high balls. I also got clattered after coming for a punch, and was winded and I still have a nice bruise on my right hip from where I landed for my troubles.

 

After that we played Prenton Dell, an excellent team who will win our league, although we took heart from a 2-1 defeat and done enough to merit a draw. They are much stronger and more experienced than us, and are solid throughout the side. Their first goal came from a corner which went very deep, and was headed down and back across goal by their big target man, and the little full-back reacted quiest nodding down and beating our man on the line after a wicked bounce off a divet.

I was disappointed with their 2nd goal as it came direct from a free kick pretty far out, maybe 30 yards or so. I was trying to line up the wall to cover my right hand post, but they were not listening, and spent longer on the post than I should of, they took the kick quickly, aiming for the other corner. I had to cover the distance of the goal but could only get a hand to it. It pisses me off as people pointed at me, but I was shouting loud enough for the wall to hear, but they didnt move. I suppose you learn from your mistakes, hey.

All in all I was very pleased with my performance, and pulled off a few very, very decent saves. Its always nice to get a bit more than the usual "well played mate" at the end, and their players made a point of coming over and saying some stuff that made me pretty proud.

 

Last night however, we were beaten 1-0. We started off really well, playing some lovely stuff, and I dont think they touched the ball for 15 mins or so, but we really didnt create anything, and certainly didnt test there keeper. I think our midfield slacked off - they had a ringer for James Corden playing in midfield for them, literally, looks, size everything! And we thought we were gonna cruise in. We had won the toss and had the wind, a slight hill and a setting sun in our favour, but as the 1st half wore on they started to get a grip, and tested me with a 20 yarder which was swerving all over the place so I tipped over, and a few 1-1 through balls I had to collect at the attackers feet. I felt pretty confident, and we looked solid enough at the back, the midfield just had to get a grip and start dominating again. After my 2nd dose of accupuncture last week the grion felt strong and my kicking was good, going easily 3/4 of the pitch. it felt good again.

2nd half was much the same though, us having good passages of play, but not really testing their keeper, and them having counter attacks. After about an hour they were on the counter and had got in behind our centre back, who chased and made an excellent tackle, keeping the ball, and turning to move away. As our centre back turned, their attacker just booted his achilles. There was a bit of a scuffle, and the ref blew for a free kick. For some reason he gave it to them, 20 yards out. We couldnt believe it.

I lined up the wall, and this time they were spot on to be fair. I got in position, and held my hand up to block the setting sun behind. The lad hit the free kcick really well, bending around the wall, with a lot of power. I flung myself to my right, and got a strong hand to it, but like last week i couldnt stop it going into the corner. Gutted. Felt like my fault, but to be fair to the lad, it was an excellent free kick. To top it off the palm finally gave-in on my glove, and ripped open. Pro-direct time methinks!

Didnt have much to do for the rest of the game, a few unchallenged catches from wayward crosses on the counter. We pressed and pressed, creating loads of chances but again not really testing the keeper.

The dressing room afterwards was grim. We were by far a better team, but really didnt turn up.

 

Big game then on sunday after two defeats on the bounce. We should have a full strength team back, and hopefully we'll find our game again.

 

Right im off to the Pro-direct website - their 2-4-1 offers on gloves are superb! Ill let ye know how we get on Sunday.

 

Laters,

 

Paul

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Amazing intro Paul. Hope you are having a good football weekend. I'm interested to hear about your experience with acupuncture sessions.

 

Also, what's your weekly training schedule like?

 

Thanks again for the detailed introduction buddy ;)

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[/i]Another couple of bad weeks for The Hoolies.

 

A 5-2 defeat last week against a poor team followed a 3-2 defeat yesterdday. On the plus side I was given Man of The Match in both games, and feel much, much stronger and fitter after the accupuncture sessions. I even set up a goal yesterday from a free kick about 10 yards outside our box straight to our right winger who found the corner.

 

Last weeks game was a weird one. We went two down quickly from bad, bad goals. The 1st was my fault as we where playing in wet and very windy conditions, I misjudged a through ball thinking it would hold up in the wind, but it skipped quickly off the ground and past me for the striker to score from a narrow angle. 2nd was another long ball - we have ongoing problems dealing with balls in behind the centre-backs due to a lack of pace. I was 1v1 went out to narrow the angle, as the forward went to square the ball to another forward the ball rolled into the groove of the 18 yard line, and he mis-kicked it. Rediculous, but just sums our season up so far.

After this we absolutely battered them, hitting the bar and the post, and having several shots either blocked or cleared off the line. I just had that feeling it wasnt gonna be our day.

Early in the 2nd half we hit back with two quick goals, the 2nd was a rocket from a quickly taken short corner. Brilliant goal. 2-2 and game-on.

We then had a clear goal not-given after their keeper clawed it back out. I actually seen the net ripple from the other end, only for the ref to ignore our pleas. The 'scorer' was booked for his protest, and after that the ref gave us absolutely nothing. Its fair to say we also lost our heads a bit, and in pushing for a 3rd, left gaps at the back. However, their 3rd and 4th goals were so clearly offside it was untrue! I was left in 1v1 situations both times and managed to block, only for the ball to fall back to the attacjker for the 3rd goal, and to another attacker for the 4th.

 

Yesterday we played a half-decent team called Bushells, who were promoted from our league season before last, and were relegated last season and are back in our league. I have a friend, Crossan, who plays for them, and he is exceptional. He plays at League of Wales standard, and has played semi-pro back home in Ireland. I gave a warning before the game, but our central midfielders just couldnt cope with his running.

After playing some good stuff early on, we found ourselves 1 down after Mark broke from midfield, and after ging out to narrow the angle he shot, and it just flicked the covering defenders outstretched foot and looped up and over me. Gutted.

 

Not long after I set-up our equaliser picking out Jack Withy from a free-kick about 10 yards outside the box. Their full-back just touched it with his head, which made it easier for Jack as he was able to shoot 1st time. 1-1.

 

Into ther 2nd half and I made a string of 4 or 5 1v1 blocks, ans another from the edge of the box after they played a sharp 1-2. I felt good. It was gonna take something special to beat me again.

 

It was special, think of that van Basten volley, but from the other side of the box. There was ahint of hand ball as he chested the ball mid-run from a throw in, but the finish was awesome, absolutely nothing that I could do. Sometimes you just gotta hold your hands up and say "fair play".

 

3rd goal again came from a throw, and was left 1v1 against Mark, after I had saved twice from his 1v1's earlier, he changed and instead of shooting, he feinted to shoot and went round me to roll the ball in. 3-1.

 

We pulled a goal back with a couple of minutes to go, but it was too late.

 

Mark, and a couple of their players came over and said we were the best footballing team they had played. We do play some really good stuff, along the floor, taking the 1 & 2 touch stuff that we do in training into games. But for some reason, this season, the final ball is not there. I think sometimes we are guilty of over-playing, a bit like Arsenal, and probably not getting what we deserve out of the game.

 

It was nce to get our MOM again though, I kept us in the game for as long as we could, only to be beaten by that awesome volley.

 

Cup matches for the next two weeks, not really looking forward to it, but surely our luck must improve sometime???

 

 

As far as training goes, we train once a week, on a wednesday. We do some running, about 2 miles then some sprints and stuff. Then whilst the players do ball work the manager takes me to one side and we do handling stuff, from both short and long distance, along the floor and crosses etc... We then put a goal up and do the "sweat box" where a strijker is played through five times and is only allowed 2 touches. He has to shoot before he gets past a certain point. I like this, its a pretty good excercise and I always have a go at the shooting aswell. DFoesnt sound like much, but it doesnt half take it out of you!!!

 

I also cycle to work daily, which is about a 10 mile round trip so my legs and groin are pretty strong from that, and I play 7 aside football on a friday night which is pretty fast paced. Its also in a cage, so you have to be on your toes for any rebounds after shots.

 

Gotta get back to work, see you later lads.

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Sorry GT, meant to talk a bit about the accupunture.

 

I uyse a fella called Ian Griffiths (Biffo), an ex-pro who played for Tranmer and Wigan amongst others, before gbeing the first overseas player to play in China, before retirement. Whilst in China he became interested in traditional Chinese Acupuncture after receiving treatment for a calf injury.

 

Like me, he was very sceptical about how a needle being poked into your body can cure all sorts of problems to do with muscles, nerves etc...

 

Ive has 4 treatments with Biffo over the last year, at

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Another defeat on Sunday 2-3 again, this time in the cup. It was against a team a couple of divisions above us though, so i suppose we can take heart from that. Felt my performance was good again, several 1v1 saves, took every high ball - with and against the wind, and a couple of tips over - one from a cheeky lob that I thought had beat me. Kicking felt stronger again, and was easily going 3/4 of the pitch even against the wind.

 

We had a long training session last night, and concentrated on passage-of-play stuff, and attacking much quicker as we tend to over-play a bit much in midfield. After the session we callled a team meeting, We are all feeling pretty down at the moment as we have now lost 5 on the bounce, a shocking run in anybodies terms. But we were all very positive, nobody is really doing anyhting wrong, no major mistakes, and we know we are a team of good players. We focused on carrying on what we are doing by playing football, keeping possesion and then working hard when we lose possesion but also to get the ball forward that bit quicker and use the rapid pace we have on the wings.

 

On sunday we play the biggest game we have faced as a team. After 5 on the bounce, this really is must-win! Add to that, the fact that its in the Cheshire Cup - our version of the Champs League! We are playing a team from Sale, in Manchester on the same day that Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to face Utd. Should be fun!!! We have filled a 53 seater coach and there are some cars going aswell, so hopefully it will be a brillaint away day!!!

 

Here is our league website - http://wirraldistrictfa.com/BHS%20Home3.htm

 

We are in division 2, folow the links to tables and match reports if you want a little gander.

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