With Sport, No Amount of Hoping Will Necessarily Make You Any Good at It

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme Whitfield Western Mail

If i told you I spent most of my childhood playing football by myself and imagining games in which I was the hero, you would probably think me terribly sad.

Actually, I didn't spend my entire childhood doing that - though only because I spent the summer months playing cricket by myself and imagining games in which I was the hero, and occasionally playing tennis by myself and imagining games in which... oh, you can probably guess.

Looking back 25 years or so, I seem like the most tragic little blighter ever to walk the Earth. I thought I was Roy of the Rovers, but in fact I was Charlie Brown. Only ginger.

But you know what? It was a blast. If I could capture that sense of excitement again you would be reading your newspaper while I tear around my back yard making up games in my head in which my last-minute goal wins the league championship for my team.

As a kid I was obsessed with sport, sitting in front of Grandstand like a strung-out junkie in a '70s Al Pacino film. Once I'd watched it, I wanted to do it and, for the most part, that meant playing games in my back garden where all the other players were conjured up by my imagination.

To anyone watching me between the years of 1976 and 1986, I must have appeared a right tool - throwing a tennis ball against a wall so that I could play amazing cricket shots when it came back, or going on a mazy dribble past an entire team of imaginary defenders before setting myself up for the goal of the season. …