Tony Greenall was born within half a mile of the nearest football pitch, grew up even closer to another one and now lives within a wayward free kick of Doncaster Rovers home, the Keepmoat Stadium.
He will probably end up dropping dead on a halfway line somewhere.
Thanks Tony for that introduction ..
It's a truth the world over that as a child, sporting influences like so many others will come from the parents. It's no less true in my case. My Mum is a big sports fan, she played hockey for Yorkshire, was a scorer at a local cricket club & her father was a Tic-Tac man at various racetracks.
However, it was my Dad who started my love of football at all levels. He had played himself for a number of Yorkshire League clubs including Bentley Victoria and Doncaster United before going on to coach successful local junior clubs and refereeing both on a Sunday morning and in local Saturday Senior leagues.
I would travel with him and watch as he became the focus of abuse from players and fans alike. I'd keep quiet in case anyone spotted I was the ref's kid, then we'd laugh about the comments and discuss the game on the journey home. The faces and characters of local football felt almost like an extended family. A walk through town rarely passed without an "Hello Bill" or "'Ey up George" to some player or club official he knew, as they mulled over the latest events on the field.
Tales of obscure, often ramshackle grounds played at during his Yorkshire League days also instilled in me a love of Non-League football which has grown greater as time goes on. We would regularly watch local sides such as Brodsworth, Rossington Main and Bentley, eagerly looking out for their results each weekend. Their oddly named opponents from curious sounding towns seemed from the other side of the world. Now I know they're not so far away and have visited many of them too.
Today it's at the Non-League clubs I find the football my Dad introduced me to. A truly beautiful game with a purity rarely found among the big boys on television, playing for the love of football, running clubs selflessly for communities, being a part of something important and ensuring it survives for future generations.
My own son will be of an age to go to games soon, he already shows an interest in the mysteries of where I disappear to on a Saturday afternoon. I only hope he can take something of what my Dad gave to me and find that love of Football himself.
Maybe he'll even write about it.