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Seventeen degrees, unburdened sun, a gentle breeze,
lush pitch: ideal conditions, these, to work away,
with ten like-minded fools, a ball and six studs as our tools,
and mine this ground for extraordinary pay.
I received extraordinary pay about ten years ago when, in a Friday night over 35 match in Toronto, an unselfish striker left a squared ball twenty yards out and a defect in the pitch resulted in the ball sitting up. I accidentally struck a ball with topspin I have yet to recreate, resulting in a goal from a strike that would otherwise have sailed into the parking lot. I pretended, without success, to act unsurprised as my teammates complimented my accomplishment. A sage Scottish-Canadian opponent, running beside me, called me out on my celebratory journey back to my own half when he demanded, “Tell the truth. You’ve never scored a goal like that before.” Never had. Haven’t since. Likely never will again. Ideal conditions.