The 5 types of five-a-side player
You meet a lot of characters at five-a-side football.
Once a week or so it brings together players of every attitude, ability, attire and age for 40 minutes of shin-kicking, ball-bouncing, toe-poking chaos. Come rain or shine, sleet or snow, in estates or on that really nice pitch just behind the Co-op, everyone’s welcome, and nobody’s that good.
But beyond the endless variables of quality and calibre, there are some reassuring constants.
If you’ve been asked to turn up for your mate’s team tonight – and nervously asked “what sort of level?” – rest assured that at least one of these five types of player will definitely be there.
Here’s how to identify them, and what you should do…
The chap with the knee brace
He’s talking loudly about his cruciate ligament injury – but not for the kudos. His aim is to ensure that everyone on the pitch knows to go easy on him. He’s not entirely convinced how his knee is going to hold up and he’s liable to crumple under the merest whisper of a challenge and never walk again. Do you want that on your conscience?
What to do: Handle with care: if he gets the ball, stand off him – he’ll soon injure himself, which will be a weight off everyone’s mind.
The pitch is only about 11 metres long and you can barely move for other players. Regardless, this bloke you only met 20 minutes ago is still yelling to, “track back”. There’s nowhere to track back to. Plus, who made him the boss? Maybe you can’t be bothered to track back. It’s only Ed from accounts. Everyone knows he’s got no left foot.
What to do: Go the full N’Golo Kante – track back as if your life depends on it, covering every inch of 4G with a demented determination. Then, when loudmouth drops his man and they score, yell, “who’s tracking back?” to no one in particular.
The dead-good ringer
Crikey, he’s good. Did someone say he tried out at West Brom? He’s barely broken a sweat whereas everyone else is huffing and puffing. What’s more brilliant than having him on your team is how he’s irritating your mate who’s used to being the best player there each week. Priceless.
What to do: Pass him the ball. He’ll either score or set you up for a doozy and you can bask in his reflected glory. If he’s on the opposing team, pride demands that you inflict at least one rigorous mid-stepover challenge. If you can get near him.
The duty dodger
No one wants to be in goal in five-a-side. It’s dangerous, for one thing, but everyone does their time because there’s no I in team. All apart from that one chap who consistently ignores the regular, “who hasn’t been in goal?” plea. He jogs resolutely away from the area, even when he knows it’s his turn.
What to do: This sort of selfish behaviour is totally unacceptable. There’s only one thing you can do – call him out. “Oi mate, have you been in yet?” Then, when he’s in, leave him there.
The angry man
Ooof. Ouch. Uh. Alright mate, it’s not the Football League Trophy final. This bloke’s barging his way round your team kicking lumps out of people, but hasn’t won the ball once. All of his life’s frustrations – especially that, when in possession, he has the finesse of a drunken gorilla – are manifesting themselves in this minor ABH spree. There is one upside, though – The Chap With The Knee Brace is refusing to come out of goal.
What to do: Don’t rise to him. That’s what he wants. Instead, you need to be canny to get one over on this scumbag – it’s time to deploy all available talent to meg him and generally show up his sloth-like reactions. He’ll leave angrier than he arrived.