The fans had volunteered to clear the pitch so the game could go ahead. Now the snow was piled up all round the edges and if you squinted a bit, it looked like the pictures of mountains in his Dad's atlas. When one of the players came to the side to pick up the ball, Jamie saw him as a giant, taking huge steps across the snow-capped alps.
Bank Holiday Monday, the last day of the Christmas holidays, the last day before going back to school. It was a good crowd, considering. Men and boys everywhere, all in shades of black and blue, faded jeans and padded jackets, their shapes indistinguishable under the thick layers. They stood in groups, hands deep in pockets, stamping their feet against the cold.
Not many women here today, just the few who came every week. Jamie looked quickly across to the stand, where his Nan and Grandad sat. They'd been bringing him to football for years and years, ever since his little brother was born. He used to sit with them, waiting for Nan to share out the drinks and crisps she'd brought along. Nowadays he'd rather buy a coke from the burger stand. Nowadays his Nan took a cushion and a blanket with her to protect against the cold and the hard seats.
Maybe he should have gone back to sit with them at half time.
Here behind the goal there was a group of boys his own age - or at least he thought so. He was head and shoulders taller than most of them, but then he was taller than all the lads in his class as well; it was a long time since he'd stood up straight. It was easier to blend in here where nobody really stood up properly - some of the boys were bent over the advertising hoardings that surrounded the pitch, banging out a rhythm to accompany each goal kick; others stood hunched in groups, curling in on themselves to keep out the cold.
Jamie watched the game playing out in front of him, as the lead changed from one side to the other, as chances were missed then taken, as tackles became more desperate, and the referee's whistle grew more shrill. Behind him he could sense the tension mounting.
He looked over his shoulder, saw scowling faces, heads shaken from side to side. He'd already heard people swear at the linesman, call the referee all kinds of useless. The fans at the other end had started chanting and he knew it wouldn't be long before the men behind him responded. He didn't mind so much when they just shouted back at the fans, it wasn't directed at anyone in particular, but he hated it when they started on the opposition goalie in front of them. The poor man who had to stand there on his own throughout the game, the one who, if he did his job well would become the butt of everyone's anger, who if he did his job badly would be laughed at and ridiculed. Throughout the game, the goalie had to stand there, pretending not to hear, trying not to react to the shouts that would start off by doubting his ability to catch the ball, then quickly move on to him being too fat, too slow, or too stupid. Jamie knew what that felt like.
He waited. Like the game in front of him, the mood behind the goal could go either way. He waited and hoped for the one brave man who would risk pride and reputation by launching into the song they all knew. Could he dare to try it himself? Would he be left as a foolish lone voice, wishing the ground would swallow him up. Or might he be rewarded with that brilliant moment when one, then another, picked up the song as it rolled along the terrace in a wave of sound. Not a humble embarrassed muttering, but a fierce loud roar of a song. A song you'd be proud to join in with.
But he'd need to know when to stop as well, he'd hate to be the one who carried on singing once the others had finished, risking that confidence sapping chorus of 'On your own, on your own, on your own', and the smirking faces behind him.
The ball had gone out for a corner. Jamie looked at his watch, then glanced behind him again. All eyes were on the players filling the box, jostling for position, trying to make some space for a free header. Nobody was looking at him, if he began singing now, they probably wouldn't even know it was him who'd started it.
He looked at his watch again, only five minutes of normal time left, this was probably the last decent chance of the game. He could do it, he could do it now. He stood up, squared his shoulders and cleared his throat.
But then, as he opened his mouth, from somewhere just behind him came the loud, confident chant,
'Walking down the Mason's Hill, to see the Bromley Aces....'
It didn't matter. It really didn't matter.
He looked across to the stand. Perhaps he'd walk round to sit with Nan and Grandad, watch the end of the game with them.