Monday 12 May 2014

Daring to dream

While the focus of this blog is generally faithful to the subjects in the title - 'wildlife', and, to a lesser extent, 'Peter Moore' - I occasionally confess to an interest in football, something of a Marmite subject among birders, I've noticed. Even if you feel about football how I feel about Marmite - i.e. ill-disposed - read on, it's as much a morality tale about loyalty and disappointment as about the beautiful game per se.

Jamming in on the Citrine Wagtail which graced Portland Obs for half a minute on Sunday would have been too much to ask - I was nearby at the Bill where this Pom was some consolation
My references to football are generally in the context of the Wareham Rangers Under-11s for whom my eldest regularly turns out (congratulations to them in their promotion season, by the way, which would have ended with a parental chorus of 'going up as Champions' but for some dubious refereeing decisions at a certain seaside town which shall remain nameless, but about which, being good middle class mums and dads, we had to bite our tongues at the time). Premier League football has never been an all-consuming passion, but out of boyhood loyalty I have followed the progress of Liverpool FC with fluctuating degrees of interest.

You'll never walk alone: not when there is a chance of a good seawatch at the Bill. Most seawatchers were standing in the lee of the lighthouse in a fierce westerly.
Like anyone who supports a team which has ever won anything but isn't from the place where the team is based, I have been accused of being a glory hunter. A bit harsh, as I actually declared my allegiance while lying on the floor of the school playground being punched by the school bully as he demanded to know what team I supported. Our nearest Football League side to the Forest of Dean was probably Bristol Rovers at the time (this was before the heady days of the Cheltenham Town insurgency) but we were brought up to mistrust Bristolians - so impossibly distant and exotic - so I blurted out 'Liverpool' as it was the only other team I'd heard of. While this no doubt had something to do with the fact that they were winning just about everything in the late 1970s, the declaration of support was, in truth, borne more out of ignorance of the alternatives than any transient hunt for glory.

Just the one drake Garganey left at Swineham this weekend having peaked at five last weekend.
Despite constant references to my fickle relationship with Swineham via this medium, loyalty is one of my more enduring faults, so the allegiance to Liverpool has stuck. All was well for the rest of my childhood, perms and mullets notwithstanding, as they continued to sweep all before them. I still have my Umbro replica shirt with Steve Heighway's number 9 on the back (I regarded new signing Dalglish as something of a Johhny Come Lately at the time). Then after the tragedy of Heysel, my enthusiasm waned and I developed other interests, but maintained just enough of an attachment to enjoy the odd highlight. Principal among these was the 2005 Champions League final, which I watched on my own while wife slumbered upstairs with bairn, in a holiday let on the Isles of Scilly where we spent a week in May (birding highlight of the week: Garganey. Yes, it was that bad). Like so many others, I almost switched off at half-time but fortunately persevered to witness one of the great footballing comebacks of all time. If only all 3-3 draws could end so well.

Sedge Warblers continue to entertain around Swineham and Bestwall
Having enough to be neurotic about these days, I try to avoid getting emotionally involved in Liverpool's prospects, but this season it all started to look on again, and, at the risk of resurrecting the glory hunter accusation, I inexorably got more and more bothered about the chance of them winning the Premier League. Predictably it all ended in tears yesterday. Thus was learnt a valuable lesson in daring to dream which I shall be passing on to Wareham Rangers Under-12s right-back before he gets too carried away about next season's prospects. At least I didn't post anything prematurely triumphalist when they were 5 points clear. And at least with birding there is usually some consolation even if you don't secure the big prize, as a trip to Portland proved this weekend.

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