When I was 10 my parents made the decision to take me out of my local school and send me to a boys private school. The summer before I went my new school sent me a detailed itemised checklist of all the things I needed. Blazers, school ties pencil cases as well as a pair of football boots for PE.
Up until then I played football in a pair of BHS black plimsoles out on the street with a sponge football. We had to play with sponge balls so as not break car windshields and windows and to avoid “stabbers”; angry grownups who’d take your ball, stab it to deflate it and tell you to naff off. That said, my ball still had plenty of slash wounds on it.
My Dad set me loose in a JD Sports one Saturday morning in Stratford Shopping Centre (now about 10 minutes away from the 2012 Olympic Village) and I ran back to him holding an Adidas Precision Predator boot in black. At the time Adidas Predators were THE football in the world and were worn by such players as Kluviert, Del Piero and David Beckham. This advert, for the Predator Accelerator boot that got released for the 1998 World Cup sums up their image.
They were a bit pricey, but after a bit of public begging my Dad eventually relented and bought me the Precision Predators. I absolutely adored them. I spent the entirety of that Saturday afternoon and Sunday day practising tricks in them, making it my mission to pull off Cruyff turns. By the end of that weekend, I could pull them off with both feet.
Come my first PE lesson at my new school, disaster struck and I had brought my white kit rather than my football and cross country gear (which looked a bit like Arsenals old away kits of yesteryear, blue with yellow sleeves). Out I walked for a game of 7 a side in white shorts and t-shirt, and my shinpads tucked into a pair of tennis socks. I had my new boots do so I didn’t mind that I got a few weird looks. In my first game I bagged a brace, scoring one penalty (I was allowed to take it because I was the new kid) and a cheeky individual goal that I remember finishing by slotting it through the keeper’s legs before celebrating with a “shh”. The game ended 2-2 and I got told off by my form tutor for celebrating in such a fashion but I didn’t care. By Christmas I had made the school team. By year 6 I was made captain in a team that only lost one game that year (we always lost to Normanhurst school, the bastards). I eventually dropped off football when I got to secondary school when a whole bunch of kids came in from 11+ exams and I got dropped for the subs bench and now, ten years later, rugby is my favourite sport to play, but I’ll never forget my first pair of footy boots and all the memories I had wearing them...
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