I share the touchline with a group of other parents whom I would probably never recognise during the summer months. We have no idea what colour hair each of us have, no idea as to the shape of each other's faces. All we have in the way of recognisable features is a set of desperate eyes and occasionally a blue tinged nose peeping over the top of a woolly scarf.
We share a love of our children and a stoic acceptance of our fate. A fate that involves hours of frustration in the cold, interspersed by the occasional shaft of bright sunlight when the boys win ... or even just score.
There is also quite a large level of guilt. This is generally brought on by tournaments. Tournaments take the whole football thing to another level. A tournament means more than an hour and a half on the touchline ... it means possibly a whole day. This involves provision of drinks, snacks, flasks of coffee and a generous amount of chocolate ... and then of course there's the picnic for the kids. The day usually starts with an inordinate amount of optimism regarding the outcome of the competition, but as the day stretches on a parent usually finds themself wishing for losses. After all, if the team loses we all have to go home ... earlier. Unless the fiendish organisers have introduced a "Plate" competition. This is for the teams who have lost everything. Instead of having to go home to a warm house and a nice lunch they get the chance to keep on playing for a plate trophy ... along with all the other bad teams ... How lovely.
So the guilty parent outwardly enthuses about the team's performance, whilst internally they are selling their soul in the desire for it all to be over...
Don't get me wrong ... watching your children play sport can be magnificent. Winning a game can be the most exciting feeling and seeing their faces alive and alight with the joy of victory is just wonderful! But it doesn't seem to happen that often. And spending your weekends acting as taxi, supporter and then psychoanalyst can wear thin after 8 months.
Therefore it is with joy that I can say that Son #2's season has finished today. They have avoided relegation and yet won't have to cope with a tricky higher division either. Of course there will still be friendly matches well into the summer and training will continue for a while, but the pressure of having to attend every single match, no matter the weather and no matter that the opposition plays in Outer Mongolia, is over.
Now I just need Son #1's season to come to a close as well. Then I can gather my strength and spend 4 months preparing the the next season. I am thinking of treating myself to some thicker long johns and possibly a hip flask.