Dear Monkers, growing up in South Wales is not easy, especially when you have people around you that don’t work, tell you you re not good enough and have massive social drink, drugs and obesity problems.
I lasted 27 yrs before I took the ultimate gamble and moved to the big smoke in 2009, there I embarked on a wonderful adventure filled with football up’s and football downs – this is my Odyssey – I am the Monk
I arrived with just a ruck sack, broken down Astra – my Fender and my Tiempo Nike Mouldies (no Gloves) yes I am a goalkeeper, I immediately needed a place to live – south, it was always going to be SOUTH London
Wandsworth had the lowest CTax so it was a no brainer, luckily I already had a job, so small fry/ginger lova’s sofa became a temp home… it was Aug 09 – I needed to write to all the non-league clubs in the area asking for a trial, out of 30 ish I could think of only 4 got back to me with rejections inc. Met Police, Sutton Utd, Tooting & Mitcham and Ebbsfleet. I needed to go lower if I wanted to coach/play or even carry the water…
Then after a training session while playing another sport, one of the lads said “our club is looking for a keeper” BAM! – I ve got a trial, where? Regent’s Park Hub, London Town! Awesome
I remember being nervous but knowing grassroots football, I could hold my own – as long as I hold onto the ball! Game finished, we won 4-2 and this was the start of a wonderful relationship with the Oldest Amateur Division in the World – (LONDON) WEST END LEAGUE AFA. I m not gonna mention teams names - this isn’t what this blog is about, I wanna share what can be done, moving away from the ‘Goldfish Bowl’ and into the 'Deep Ocean' that is one of the biggest cities in the world. With just a network, luck and the gift of the gab.
Communication was half my game - the black hole was born playing on grass in the park.
The Manager was pleased, asked me to sign and that was the start of my Odyssey to be part of THE team. Work was going ok in the first year, I stayed put and balanced training and playing with a new challenge – working alongside a Premier league team who were in Europe at the time – it paid my bills.
OK, let me put this into frame – At the time, South Wales’ nearest Premier League team was Aston Villa 129 miles so I hadn’t seen that kind of quality of football (Swansea were in L1 and Cardiff were in the Championship) my first live game – we lost 2 nil, in fact I only remember the European games that season, I played a lot of amateur league at Regents Park and we were quite successful in our first year making the Cup final @H. T. in May ‘Cup final Day’ 2010, the next season our long term captain was stepping down – there were two candidates and I was voted in. Proud wasn’t the word – I ll never forget where I was on the 1st july that year, it was the home of the FA rules freemasons tavern London.
After my first season – I had become captain, leader of Ath!
End of Part 1