Grandad Brian: Big pitches are hard work
MARK LAWRENCE: This week, Ben and I are joined by my dad Brian to make it three columnists for the price of two!
As he doesn't live in Cheltenham, my dad doesn't see his grandson in action very often – in fact, his last game was a seven-a-side match two years ago.
So, I thought he would be the perfect person to give his verdict on what changes he had seen in those two years as he braved the cold to watch our match against Barometrics.
The plan didn't get off to the best of starts as he spent the first half mistakenly watching the under-11 game on the next pitch (although in his defence, it did feature a Leckhampton team wearing exactly the same kit as us). Although, less forgivably, he failed to realise that his son and grandson were not involved in the game!
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But as it turned out, watching a half of nine-a-side football followed by a half of 11-a-side gave him a real insight into the difference between the two versions of the game.
Anyway, enough of me. I will hand over to my dad.
BRIAN (inset): I arrived at Naunton Park and was happily watching the game and taking notes – at one point I was asked if I was a scout as I had commented on one player scoring an excellent goal.
I saw a goalkeeper at the far end of the pitch dressed exactly as my grandson was when he left the house, so I assumed I was at the right match.
Anyway, I was finally retrieved and led to the Cheetahs' game and it was a proud moment to see my grandson making excellent saves and my son coaching.
But what I really noticed was the contrast between the two games.
Watching the first game where they played on a smaller pitch and smaller goals you could see the boys are not forced to run as much so can concentrate on developing their skills It really brought home to me how playing on big pitches is detrimental to the essentials of ball control and passing and not conducive to skill development as half the time the lads are just kicking the ball up the field.
Another problem is that the boys get so physically exhausted running up and down on a muddy pitch. I couldn't get over how fit some of them are.
It was noticeable that the boys of both sides did not spend much time talking to each other because they had to devote all their energy to playing. No doubt, part of this is down to having to play on a full-sized pitch which is muddy at this time of the year and with full-sized goals.
I noticed the very different skill levels that some of them have, but without exception what came over was the huge enthusiasm they all have for playing football.
I was impressed by the fact that, compared to two years ago, it was like a real football match, the improvement is remarkable. This was helped by the good support for the home team from the parents, who not only cheered the boys on but helped with putting the nets up and so on.
I was proud to see my grandson playing in the same position his father did at the same age – but he didn't stand a chance in those huge goals!
BEN: I was glad granddad was there, but I treated it like any other match. I was planning on using his portable seat, but I was far too busy in the game! I have been busy in the last two games, and there are times I wish it was quieter.
We have to tackle and compete if we want to win any more games this season. For one of their goals their player ran through most of the team. And when you play in those huge goals it doesn't matter what you do to narrow the angle you're just not going to save most of the shots.
I am disappointed that we have lost the last two matches – and we should have given them a much better game.