There are a few prominent stories in my book surrounding major sporting events in our popular culture.
But mostly, this would be the sport known as "Association Football", or "Footy", or simply "Football". Elsewhere in the world, they call it "Soccer".
I have always been an avid player, watcher and commentator of football, and, for my sins, a passionate supporter of Manchester City Football Club.
However, City were not formally recognised as a club, until St.Mark's church in Gorton became Ardwick F.C., back in 18
Prior to this, football had emerged as a very popular game, and in many different formats, with different rules, depending upon where you played. And so some sort of organisation was required.
Throughout the narrative, I inadvertently track City's historic title winning season, culminating in potentially one of the most dramatic ever finishes to a season, back in May 2012. I even went down the bookies and backed us to win the title, the day after we lost at Arsenal, and fell a whopping EIGHT points behind in the title race, with only six games left to play.
However, even as I dreamed the impossible, and even as what I predicted a few months earlier, unfolded before my very eyes, I still could not actually believe what had happened. I was not the only one. Grown men wept in the streets. Grown men, who had followed City for thirty, forty, fifty years, in some cases, even longer, brought to tears. By a football game.
Such is the incredible passion for the game in England, that City are not unlike most clubs who have had their fair share of ups and downs over the years. With the advent of the Premier League, in 1993, and injections of huge sums of money in the game, the landscape of footy changed forever.
Although I played cricket as a kid, I didn't get much more involved until later in life, when I became a qualified umpire.
These days I regularly officiate in games played in the top divisions of the Munster Cricket league.
In the narrative, I recount one of the exploits of Clare County Cricket Club, and their first ever international club game. Despite all the odds, this raggle-taggle bunch of keen amateurs managed to pull off an incredible feat of their own.
Without a home ground, they won their league, and achieved promotion to Division I, a significant achievement in itself, without the additional hindrance of having to play all their home games away, as well as their away games away!
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