John Vane: Roy’s Summer of Sport (Monday 18 June 2012) Death traps

John Vane: Roy’s Summer of Sport (Monday 18 June 2012) Death traps

Roy opened the third box of memorabilia from the garage, believing it contained a photo he was looking for. There it was, framed and wrapped in a protective cloth: his father Don grinning astride a motorbike with sidecar attached; his mother Gwen in the sidecar, head wrapped in a shawl. Post-war, possibly pre-marriage, a joyful image of ration book Britain. How happy they both looked, how glad to be alive.

A man called Webb Simpson had won the US Open. Roy had never heard of him. But, funny game, that was how it sometimes worked with golf: unknowns did amazing things and very often went back to being unknown, a life of anti-climax stretching ahead. Simpson was only 26.

Roy drove to his office in Croydon, moved stuff around, threw some in the bin, found a box of cuff links he hadn’t seen for months and sent out a few letters telling people about bad things that might happen to them – things they probably hadn’t even thought of – and what it would cost them to guarantee that if and when that bad thing happened they would be sent a cheque to help make up for it.

That evening Spain beat Croatia by the odd goal. It meant Croatia were out and Spain were through. Ireland lost to Italy, two-nil. Played three, lost three, the boys in green, and going home. Roy saw the grey head of Trapattoni, saw his elderly elegance, and wondered how he could go on after such a disappointment at his age. Surely he would now walk quietly away and at last take some time to look back with pride on his five decades of triumphs; spend more time with his family, maybe.

Roy measured the years between himself and the stately Italian, a distance that told him he still might have so much time; a wide space in which to strive, survive or just endure.

All previous instalments of Roy’s Summer of Sport are HERE.

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Categories: Culture, Roy's Summer of Sport

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