EDitorial ± 14-Oct-2010

Spaniards In The Works

Returning from a sunny Sunday stroll, trying to not feel like a snake that's eaten a whole hippo, we catch the tiniest glimpse of a Spaniard in the paddock.

"Why don't you have a game of football with the boys?" suggests mother-in-law. "I'll ask their mum if they'd like to play."

M-I-L lives in a house, it's a very big house, in the country. Attached to the big house is a smaller house, let out as a holiday home. Living in said cottage from September to December is a Spanish family, mother and two boys. Mum thinks it would be good for her sons -- rough ages 11 and 8 -- to learn English, so they're attending the local school, like it or not.

Yes, they're keen to play. We've seen E-- but A-- is a bit shy. The Boy, my son, runs off to fetch the ball, our Kickmaster Academy Training Ball "with anti-sting feature."

"Hola," I say to E-- and A--.

"He learned that on holiday," The Boy chips in.

We kick off, me in goal, the three of 'em against each other -- I'd call it Wembley, they'd call it Bernabeu. The eldest, E--, is a useful player, and his English vocabulary puts my Coffeetime Spanish fumblings to shame. Little brother A-- doesn't have the skills. However, whenever The Boy threatens to go past him, A-- demonstrates a wide range of stereotypical fouling techniques: barging, shirt-pulling, and Greco-Roman wrestling.

After a while, we swap around and try some more co-operative play. We all decide to give ourselves appropriate player names.

"I'm Theo Walcott," says The Boy, missing an open goal.

"Iniesta," proclaims E--, and I can't argue.

"I'll be Raul," I announce, aligning myself to the golden footballer whose national team only started winning after he retired.

"Sergio Ramos," says A--, though his style is more akin to a junior Mark van Bommel.

Slowly the light goes and we're still running around like mad things, mostly trying to evade the paws of Ramos. Then their mum calls them in, as does The Boy's mum. We trudge back to our respective sized houses.

"Adios," I say to the departing figures.

"That's all he knows," adds The Boy.