Sad news this week with the passing of Dave Brunt, a proper legend of the local football scene. It might not be often you see that written about a match official (despite the fact we’d have no game without them), but in this case it’s definitely true – the surfeit of fond remembrances on social media over the last 24 hours, not least from players, bears testament to this. And you knew from the number of charity matches and the like that he officiated that he did what he did because he loved the game. I know damn well I’ve bemoaned a few of his decisions over the years (although the ferocity of my remonstration was possibly tempered a touch by fear of running into him in uniform), but he was a decent ref and a decent fella to boot. He was also a pal of mine’s Dad. Rest in peace, Dave.

As matches to miss go, it sounds like the game against Petersfield last week was one of them. Usually the games I miss seem to be seven (or more) goal thrillers, but it was of little consolation that this one sounded like the archetypal damp squib, falling behind in the opening exchanges to the bottom side then struggling to make amends over the remaining 88 minutes or so. Even Dave’s usually scintillating facebook commentary didn’t inject much excitement into this one as I travelled north to Stansted en-route to Denmark. That the visitors lifted themselves off the foot of the table was some small recompense (although I’ve sworn not to labour the matter of who replaced them in bottom spot).

Yes, Denmark. Not a work trip this time, but ostensibly a holiday excursion with the primary intention of taking nipper to Legoland. How was I to know that my Danish team IRF (Ringkobing’s) game had been put back an hour, and would be kicking off fifteen minutes or so after we rolled into town? I’ve been to six or seven grounds in the top couple of divisions in Denmark, but Ringkobing (in regional group three of the second division – essentially the third tier) is definitely my favourite. An eminently likeable set-up with a modest yet becoming ground, although strangely for a side that play at the equivalent level to Pompey, no floodlights. They only draw crowds of 500-600 on average, but they do have three pitchside bars serving foaming pints of the local brew (including one at the back of the stand) and, perhaps more importantly, they play in blue and white stripes. I can’t help but like them. I’m also somewhat proud that my boy’s first football shirt is not that of Chelsea, Man United or any one of the other sides that routinely scoop up so many of the hard-earned pounds from Dads’ pockets, but instead it’s the colours of a side that barely anyone outside of western Jutland would have heard of. Oh, and it’s blue and white stripes – did I mention that? Legoland was brilliant, by the way.

But back to the matter in hand, and the opportunity to get back on track after the disappointment of last week. Be loud, be proud, but most of all, enjoy the game.

 

Toby.

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