Trying hard to keep out of the limelight
Weird Wide World of Sport
Published 22/10/2016 | 00:00
I have a confession to make. Before you reach for the phone to dial 999 I didn't commit some heinous crime; well, at least not in the legal sense.
My indiscretion was a far more sordid one, although I haven't dabbled in the experimental world of wearing ladies' stockings or anything like that.
My admission is much more serious - I went to see 'Bridget Jones's Baby' in the cinema the other week.
Maybe went is not the correct term, more like dragged kicking and screaming through a sea of popcorn and fizzy drinks.
I tiptoed, head down and collar up across the foyer and towards Screen 4 with several pairs of eyes, laser-like burning holes all over my body as I almost broke into a sprint to get out of the glare of the bright lights.
Once I was enveloped in the safe and dark confines of the auditorium I could spy two or three other blokes in the same boat as myself out of the corner of my eye, purposely cowering in corners, hoping nobody would find out about their dirty little secret.
I suppose it would be prudent at this point to mention that I was accompanying my wife to the chick flick and I wasn't putting myself through some weird punishment ritual.
Briefly I knew what it was like to be a referee who has made one or two questionable decisions and is making a swift beeline for the dressing-room after the long shrill of the final whistle.
All eyes are on you, and you alone, and you want to exit stage left quicker than a Roberto Carlos piledriver.
Thankfully, unlike the downtrodden man in the middle I didn't have to endure the belittling baying of the crowds or have any nasty remarks thrown in my direction, although maybe I deserved at least a 'hey look, that guy's going to see a girl's film' for my sins.
Unfortunately, sporting venues are riddled with types that are ready to throw about insults quicker than wedding guests can pelt confetti.
There's an insufferable mouthpiece to be found at most matches.
The sort that continually shouts at referees and players from the stands and delights at being heard by all within earshot. What's that they say about an empty vessel?
There's no doubting that the job of a referee is a thankless one. It's not uncommon to hear both sets of supporters expressing their ire towards the man in black for the same incident.
From one corner you'd hear 'how is that a free ref, sure he fell over?', while the other side are berating the official, wondering why the transgressor wasn't shown a black, yellow or red card. You just can't win.
Happily, most of what I hear from the sidelines, although a little bemusing at times, is light-hearted banter and we're light years away from the sort of vitriolic stuff that emanates from the stands in more high-profile encounters across the water.
You'll certainly get the odd dust up from time to time, but in the main everybody shakes hands at the final whistle and all hostilities are left inside the grounds and quickly forgotten about.
When I was making my sharp exit from the cinema I had a strong urge to shake the hands of the other couple of gormless fools who suffered the same fate as myself and offer them a few gentle words of encouragement and support -'well played buddy, we made it through to the end and gathered at least another week's worth of brownie points'.
Despite my obvious misgivings and reservations, the movie wasn't really that bad after all, as far as rom-coms go that is.
I even wiped away a hint of a tear from the corner of my eye as it reached it's heartwarming conclusion and the credits rolled.
Must be the bloody hayfever.