As you stand in the cuttingly cold Yorkshire air, you wonder what you are doing there. The mud is oozing around the soles of your shoes and the prospect of taking your hands out of your pockets again is enough to send your increasingly mutinous fingers out on a general strike. Then from nowhere something illuminates the dank Wednesday afternoon.
A raking cross field pass, a meticulously measured conversion, a referee falling over. All small, vital reminders of the importance of sport and the privilege that lies in watching it.
If you ever wanted a testament to the sheer vivacity of university life then maybe it lies in sport. Each week hundreds of students take time to go out and get involved, some for the exhilaration of competition others just to get themselves out of the house.
Either way the notion of participation at university prompts one simple question. It’s the same question that is begged by living in a freezing house but joying in every second of it, the same question posed by waking in the afternoon on a Thursday feeling insanely rough but strangely contented – when will you ever get to do this again?
University affords us with a range of opportunities that later life struggles to replicate. Should you want to take up Ultimate Frisbee in fifteen years time the sports offered at your local leisure centre, your hectic family life or your identikit squash playing colleagues called Rupert could prove obstacles. For three short years that isn’t the case.
Whether you end up preparing diligently for a BUCS final later this year or roll up to College football smashed, sporting a selection of kit so distinct in colour and style to the rest of your team-mates that it appears you have decided to play Alcuin on your own, you may as well get involved.
Since I retired prematurely from football, aged just 14, I’ve decided to make the most sensational comeback since Take That. I’ve bought some tactfully understated boots and I might have a kick around for my college thirds. It took me a year to work up the bottle but hopefully this term I will walk back to play 11- a-side football once again. I caught the bug during a college organised Inter-Block tournament.
It was a genius competition. We got spanked every week of course, that wasn’t really the point. If I was good enough to play sport at a serious level I wouldn’t be writing about it. I’ll stick to the kick arounds – it’s up to you to provide some magic for us to put on paper, or to take a photo of, take for example this gentlemen at Roses, Strongbow in hand and dodging the rain. If ever a picture summed up your likely experience of sport at York then this is it.