“We live in cities you’ll never see onscreen

Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things

Livin’ in ruins of a palace within my dreams

And you know we’re on each other’s team”

Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor / Joel Little

Throughout my life I have had the very great fortune of always being on the best team. The team I was on was not always the winning team, but it was always the best team.

When we were kids our Dad was the only Dad who played football with us. He’d arrive home from work, hop out of the car, throw off his tie, and be in the middle of our game in seconds. When we lived in Glenwood in Dundalk there could be 15 or 20 on each side, Dad would be on our side , would take us to a 5 goal lead…and then deliberately let the other team catch up, go level, then we’d go ahead by one, he’d let them level again, shout out “Next goal wins !”, and then mysteriously foul one of the other team giving them a penalty, and we’d lose by one…every single time.

We’d be a little dejected, and then Dad would say, out of earshot of the other kids, “Those other guys were rubbish, you’d have to feel sorry for them” and he’d wink at us , and we’d walk home taller, knowing in our hearts that we were the best team.

The fourth best team …EVER !

When I became a Dad myself, and an Uncle, we had fantastic summers with our three kids, and their cousins, the Liddys. I would tell them stories at night to try and get them to sleep, featuring themselves and collections of pirates, ghosts, and random Star Wars figures. In the stories they were members of the best football team in the Multiverse, Monkeyhead United. All of the stories ended up in a football match upon which the safety of the Universe depended.

They always won.

As they got older they would practice playing football, as Monkeyhead United, and eventually challenged Dave Liddy and I to a match. We were Daddy Hotspur, and we always tore into a 5 goal lead …and then deliberately let them catch up, go level, then we’d go ahead by one, we’d let them level again, shout out “Next goal wins !”, and then mysteriously foul one of them, usually Jake or Barra, giving them a penalty, and we’d lose by one…every single time.

As they got older we roped in my Soulmate and Ger to help. Oddly their mothering instincts left them as soon as they crossed the sideline, and no quarter was given. It took all of Dave and I efforts to help the kids keep level such was their Mums determination to win at all costs. There were one or two draws, there was much sulking, but after a gin or six, the Mums got over it.

For some reason , maybe a Lurgy outbreak in North Wales, or a just because Christmas is the best in Chez Bond, the Liddy’s spent one Christmas with us. It was a spectacular Christmas, one of the very best, and even though the kids were a little older, Santa got them all MonkeyHead United football strips, which they all wore into their teenage years. They loved them so much that, now into their late teens and early Twenties, Santa had to get them new tops a year or two ago.

And Dave, Ger, my Soulmate, and I were allowed to be honorary members.

Truly the second best team…EVER !

My friend Ray and I run together. Our runs are often interrupted by large trees which we stop to admire, people that we stop and chat to, horses, and cows that we take selfies with, paths that lead into forests that we haven’t been on before and simply must explore. Quite honestly, a lot of our runs are actually very interesting, but leisurely strolls.

After my operation last year, while I was still in hospital, I said to myself that if I got out OK that I’d run the Dublin City Marathon this year. It seemed a ridiculous target when it took a good half hour to walk/shuffle up the road to Kieran & Hilda’s and back.

But Ray said he’d join my noble quest and we started a ‘Couch to 5K’ programme…and for the first 4 weeks we hated absolutely every single second of it. But then the next 4 weeks…we hated every single microsecond of it. Indeed , if it wasn’t for the fact that we were doing our ‘training’ in Rossmore Park, and could reward ourselves with Tom’s super-duper three scoop rum and raisin smoothies at the end…we’d probably have given up.

We slogged around the Crocus 5k in Monaghan on St.Patrick’s Day and carried on training eventually taking on the Castleblayney 10 Miler in June.

It nearly killed us !

Ray then told me that way back in 2007 when he was training for his very first marathon, he’d bumped into Irish Olympian, Eamonn Coughlan at a charity event and told him he was going to do his very first marathon. Eamonn asked him if he planned on winning it. Ray answered ‘Of course not’, and Eamon told him that the secret to running a sociable marathon, where you just want to get around it without killing yourself was to run for 15 minutes and walk for 5 minutes and simply repeat that throughout.

Ray did , and had an enjoyable marathon with a respectable time.

“So, that’s what we’ll do from now on.” Ray said to me as we sat crying and aching in the Faugh’s stand in Blayney that day.

I stared at him, open mouthed.

“What ?” he asked.

“Ray, you and I have trained for at least 5 marathons together, and you never thought to tell me this before ???”

Anyway, I forgave him, and that’s how we’ve trained ever since. We ran the Monaghan Phoenix Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago, took selfies with most of the volunteer marshalls as we passed and enjoyed it.

Last Sunday, with our great friend Dominic, we ran a 20 mile training run, and ably supplied by AnnaMarie at several roving pitstops , we finished it, tired, but smiling.

We decided that we’d try and raise a little something for Monaghan’s wonderful Crocus Cancer Support Centre, which I’ve been a beneficiary of, and we have received wonderful support which we are incredibly grateful for.

I wanted to run the marathon in a special outfit.

I’ll be wearing my friend Tadgh’s cap in memory of him, and a week or so ago I asked my wonderful friend Denise French’s husband Leo if I could use her Sunshine & Lollipops painting, which hangs magnificently in our kitchen, as a print for the tee shirts Ray and I will wear when running the marathon. He said it was a wonderful idea, and only asked that we send him photos of the day.

The whole tee is printed with her painting. We have our Monaghan Town Runners logo on one sleeve, the Crocus logo on the other sleeve, and on the back we’ve printed “Paul & Tiny Ray’s crazy Crocus Cancer Care Marathon Adventure”.

Ray , Tadgh, Denise and I are the third best team…EVER.

“What’s the best team Paul ?”

Haven’t you ever read any of my blogs before ?

My Soulmate and I !



Author: paul

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