In the years when the school summer holidays stretched out for eight weeks, there were always a few days set aside for some good old football schooling…
Perhaps fearing that spending each day out and about in the fields, woods and old abandoned quarry would send us totally feral, our parents would despatch us off to Soccer Summer School for some more supervised leisure time.
They would would take it in turns to drop us off in the morning, in kit and trainers with a packed lunch.
I have since learned that if you were brought up in the home counties then you would probably have gone to an SSS in the grounds of a stately home with the likes of Alan Mullery or Vince Hilaire taking your class.
We weren’t, and were dropped off at Western Park on the edge of one of Leicester’s hardest estates, nicknamed ‘Dodge City’ by Steve’s Dad as he drove us through it. We didn’t have a teacher out of the pages of Shoot! – we had a bloke called Keith with a beard.
On a bone hard pitch, with straw coloured grass (we had proper summers in those days you know) we would play football all the day long, with a short break in the changing rooms for packed lunch and bullying.
Having been brought up in a small village we weren’t quite prepared for some of the hard-case townies who fancied our packed lunches (no double entendre) our kit bags and our boots.
Fortunately the hardest kid in our group was also equipped with a good sense of right and wrong. Interrupting a standard bullying session one lunchtime he marched over to our chief tormentor, grabbed him by the throat and threw him backwards against a bench. He shrank like a salted slug.
The bullying season was over. Bring on the football.
Having spent three hours learning how to trap a football (Keith could make it go ‘judder’ under his foot) we commenced with the final tourney which would determine which groups would go on to play in the finals at Saffron Lane Cycle Stadium – a bit like Wembley. In shape at least.
We lost, we went home.
We had learned how to trap a football and how to deal with bullying.
Time well spent, back to the den making…
If you have stories or photos of your Soccer Summer School experiences then send them to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
More childhood memories stacked up in here…