So, we weren't in the world cup final, but this weekend turned out to be a pretty significant one nonetheless. Its memorable ingredients included an anticipated arrival, an unexpected return and a long-awaited treat, all stirred up with a measure of excitement, a pint of pride and a pinch of relief. With so much going on, it's taken me til Tuesday to find the time to write about it. There's a lot to cover, and I've done it in reverse order of importance, so bear with me.
Saturday was the first pre-season friendly for Bromley FC. I'd ended the previous season feeling totally disillusioned. Not only had my favourite striker, Nic McDonnell, left the club, but the players seemed to have lost heart somewhere along the way, limping through to an obscure mid-table position without really trying. Many times I was heard to despair 'Nic would have got that' as another ball rolled untouched past the face of the goal. It got so bad, we even decided to stop going to the away games - if the players couldn't make an effort, we didn't see any point in doing so ourselves. But a new season always brings fresh hope- the promise of new signings, the dream of promotion, the chance of a cup, or even just a decent unbeaten run. On Saturday afternoon, I arrived just before kick-off, too late to see the team warming up, or to know who was actually in the squad. We sauntered round to our customary spot behind the goal, saying hi to those we hadn't seen all summer and then we saw the team run out. The sun was shining brightly, so I had to shield my eyes, but it wasn't an illusion - there in front of me, all of my optimism was immediately rewarded - Nic was back. Not only back, but looking fit and happy to be there, he played as though he'd never missed a game, fighting for every ball, always in the right position, and yes, he scored as we beat Gillingham - just as he'd done when we played them in the FA cup, only this time the result was in our favour as we won 2-1. A perfect Saturday afternoon.
Sunday brought with it the culmination of nearly four months waiting. For my birthday back in March, Philip had, with enormous generosity and no small amount of self-sacrifice, bought us tickets for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. My excitement has been mounting in all that time, so by Sunday I was like a kid on Christmas Eve, almost dancing with anticipation. And I wasn't disappointed - not for a single second. All the little things I'd worried about simply evaporated. The journey to Northampton was a breeze - even the M25 was clear and incident free. Organisation at Silverstone was spot on - we were in and parked in no time. And our seats were great - I hadn't realised how good the wider view of the track would be from sitting up in a grandstand. Once again the sun was shining, and the crowd waved madly at the drivers, as they were paraded around the track on the back of a flat-bed truck. I watched the red arrows display in wonder - how don't they all crash into each other?
And then it began - and oh! the noise! the thrill! - watching those shiny fast cars going past again and again and again. Even though Button didn't win and Lewis only got second, I couldn't begrudge Webber his win - I know how much it would have meant to him. And I'd thought that I'd never see Michael Schumacher driving an F1 car again, so that bought an added poignancy. I only wish the race had been twice as long.
So what, I hear you ask, can possibly top that weekend of sporting excitement and dreams fulfilled?
Well - while I was sitting, standing, shouting and screaming all weekend, I was doing so with the warm glow of happiness, relief and pride that had stayed with me since 10.45 on Friday morning, when, weighing in at a massive 10lbs 11oz, my daughter Claire's first born son, and my first grandchild, entered the world.
In the past I've been a bit sniffy about 'baby blogs' and some sort of superstition has added to my reluctance to write about Claire's pregnancy, but I understand better now the generosity of my fellow bloggers and I know you'll indulge me for a while - I am, quite simply, chuffed to bits. Of course I think he's beautiful, and I think my daughter and her husband Paul are incredibly clever people to have produced him.
I'm looking forward to watching him grow, I can already see myself reading him stories, taking him to paddle in the river, helping him build a den in the woods; and if Philip (or Gramps as he now is) gets his way, we'll soon be teaching him to dig and grow at the allotment. But more than that, I have an overwhelming sense of optimism - that here is a new little man, who just might grow up to make the world a better place.
So, welcome to the world Eddie Ray!