More Than A Game by Jill Waters

Kate sat with her head in her hands. This was embarrassing, humiliating, toe-curling. Behind her an irate fan shouted profanities, gesticulating towards the pitch. ‘How rude,’ Kate muttered under her breath, even though she empathised with his sentiments. She kept hearing the words ‘it’s only a game ’in her head but in her heart, she knew it to be so much more.

She’d been coming to this ground since she was thirteen when you could still stand on the terraces and the players ’shorts were just that. Eye-wateringly so. This place was in her blood, the team’s colours ran through her like a stick of rock and she’d always said she wanted her ashes buried under the penalty spot when her time came. But today she felt differently. She was blindsided by the fact that she seemed to have fallen out of love with football. The one constant in her otherwise complicated life. When people came and went; when her health let her down; when she felt as if she couldn’t go on. She would always turn up for a match. The people around her were friends for ninety minutes. She may not know their names but she was part of their tribe and together they would cheer their team on to victory.

But this season had been toxic. Too many losses, too many goals conceded, too many times when the players didn’t seem to care. Since the pandemic, she’d thought she’d never feel comfortable in a crowd again, but she’d fought off the Covid-fuelled demons and come back. For this. Well no more. She was done.

A roar shook her out of her reverie. She looked up as the net bulged and their striker wheeled away in celebration. Her team had scored… God she loved football.

Selected: Weekly Write #16
Published in Issue #30

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