Ian McMillan: Saving it for Sunday mornings

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There are two things happening at once here, on a Sunday morning in a football field in Crigglestone and in the kitchen of a semi-detached house in Darfield. In Crigglestone the Brierley Cubs under-nines are playing the Durkar Devils, and my grandson Thomas is doing a great job in goal, and in the kitchen in Darfield the Sunday joint is cooking nicely on a low heat. There’s the odd shout of “pass it!” and the odd sizzle of slowly cooking beef.My wife and I have got the timings down to a T, you see: we’ll watch the game then zip home and the joint will be just about done. I’ll mix the Yorkshires and do the veg and Bob will be, as they say, your uncle. It’s a ritual that’s followed every Sunday morning on playing fields and in kitchens all over Yorkshire.

But then the Cubs and the Devils decide to play another game straight after the first one and time marches on and Bob is no longer your uncle; he’s retreated to become a second cousin, the one you only see at weddings and funerals. And it’s turning a little colder even though the sun is out.

We decide to just watch the first half of the second match; that should be okay and the joint won’t frazzle. The trouble is, as any proud parent or grandparent knows, junior football is addictive and once you’ve watched one mazy run and one fine save and one free kick that hits the bar you want to watch another, and another. So we’re still watching at the start of the second half and I reluctantly say to my wife “we’d better go” and we both have visions of the joint sitting there in the oven like a shrivelled currant in a kitchen that’s smoking like a trooper. The aforementioned Bob is now a very distant relative indeed. We half-heartedly step away from the game just as a goal is scored. We stay a minute longer. I say the words “shrivelled currant” to my wife and we begin to walk back to the car which is in a car park at the back of the field and, co-incidentally, at the back of the goal our Thomas is defending. We walk down towards the car, every now and then turning round to look and cheer or groan at the action. At home, in the kitchen, the joint is still, just about, okay. The point of no return has not yet been reached, but it’s close. It resembles that moment in Star Trek just before Scotty says “The engines won’t take any more, captain!”

We get to the car just as a Durkar striker fires a ball at Thomas’s net. Luckily it goes wide. I’m thinking that I might say “Let’s stay and just have a corned beef sandwich when we get home,” but I don’t. We clamber into the car and sit down, and suddenly the world is transformed. It’s warmer for a start, due to the morning sun on the windscreen. That’ll be the windscreen through which we can see the game perfectly. In the warm. It’s like watching the game in a cinema. I pass my wife a mint. A Brierley run breaks down and we can hear faint shouts and smatterings of applause. It’s nice here. It’s like sitting on the front at Cleethorpes watching the boats going up and down the Humber with a flask and some sarnies. We’ll go in a minute. Just one more goal. Just one more save.