By Rod de Lisle
Sometimes in life things are not fair. When he was a youngster Jordan’s dad told me how much Jordan loved playing football. He was a rep and a star of his team. His dad wanted to get him to England and try out as a pro player. Jordan seemed have a bright future in the game. I said go for it!
For me, playing football came at a cost. Here’s my injury count. A broken clavicle, damaged retina, two ruptured anterior cruciates, dislocated fingers, split sternum, damaged vertebrae, floating piece of chipped bone in ankle, concussion at least 3 times (but worryingly can’t remember), a broken nose and pulled muscles in places where I didn’t know I actually had muscles. And cramp.
And that was just in one game! Ok it wasn’t, it was over 35 years of playing, but at times my footy injuries probably funded (via ACC) a full time physio, nurse, orthopaedic surgeon and hospital cleaning lady. As a (admittedly fairly average) football player I competed hard, always got stuck in, hence the injuries.
So I am a little obsessive about the beautiful game. Despite the relative lack of success on the pitch and the catalogue of bodily damage, I loved playing. When a half-way decent (usually fluky) goal came via my boot or head, or the game result went our way, it meant a happy week. Likewise, the success of a favourite team meant grumpiness was banished until next Saturday at least. I also enjoyed coaching kids and latterly managing the Hamilton Wanderers. And I get a real kick out of writing about the glorious game.
But I have to say, football is not the most important thing in my life. I like the way it’s played, the skills and intensity, the drama. I like the frequent humour of football, the fans, the players and media. Yep, I totally love football.
Here’s the thing. I’m not of the school of thought that football, the worlds greatest game, is the be-all and end-all. (This is where I expect Editor Enzo to stamp a big red REJECT stamp on this article and turf it into the bin – you’re reading it? Ok he didn’t). For me it’s not my number 1, 2 or even 3 thing in life although it would sneak into, say the top 6, certainly. Yes, one of the best moments of my life was the day, earlier this year, I stood in the Leicester stands and watched my little fancied team crowned champions of England. But THE actual best moment of my life? Nope, although not far off it.
You see it IS only a game, despite what Shankly said. It is a force for good, mainly. It can bring you tears of joy and despair. It can lift a poor kid from poverty and elevate him to superstardom. And it can unite people in a way that very few pastimes can. But there is other, more important stuff, in our life journey. Even the most rabid footie fan would tend to agree with this.
I have to provide a rider at this point. There are one or two blokes I know (only blokes, women are far too sensible) for whom football overrules everything else. But they are few and a little bit sad.
However it all gets put into perspective, when life buggers things up for some unlucky beggar. I’ve previously touched on the death of a great friend and colleague after a game of indoor football and we all heard about the tragedy of the Chapecoense plane crash in Columbia. Then there was the tragic loss of a young Mount Albert Grammar player, Liam Craddock, in a car accident last week here in the Waikato. So very sad.
Things come in threes don’t they? In the news this week was this story of an Auckland lad, Jordan Dolbear, who has been diagnosed, at only age 24, with a malignant brain tumour. An ex-Central player, Jordan has been a keen footballer all his life and toyed with the idea of trying an overseas career. He even toured Croatia and Japan with the Wynrs academy. Sadly his football aspirations were put on ice when a bad tackle resulted in a badly fractured femur while playing for Papatoetoe FC.
For me it’s pretty close to home. Sandy, Jordan’s mum has been a close family friend since our respective kids were young and she was my regular hairdresser till she moved south. I remember Jordan as a baby and saw him very occasionally as a lad when I was getting my ever-thinning locks trimmed at Sandy’s. I heard those stories of his football prowess and wished him well
When I heard of Jordan’s recent plight it was devastating. I spoke to Sandy and she said how incredibly hard it was for the family to be faced with this situation. I also had a word today with Jordan. He speaks well for a young fella despite telling me “I’m a bit spaced out on morphine”. He expressed a desire to keep playing football despite a steel rod in his leg from the 2014 injury. “I played some football again this year for Papakura in the AFL… trying to get back into it. Now this”.
Jordan faces a tough battle but I’m sure he won’t succumb easily. However it will take a real toll on him, his mum and sisters. Football will relegated to the bench for a fair while.
So yeah, f*ckety-f*ck life! It ain’t bleedin fair. But keep fighting, Jordan, we would love to see you back soon – on the pitch doing what you love.
P.S. For those who can contribute a few dollars to help Jordan and his family, there is a give-a-little page set up here. Please help him out.
Categories: Other Football Topics
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/