I have always been a bit of an authoritarian. I think it’s fair to say the writing was on the wall when I tied a ruler to the back of my Wendy Walker doll to keep her shoulders back. It was cast in cement during my power-crazed days as a Library Monitor, School Monitress, School Prefect and House Captain. I would hand out those blue slips (or maybe they were pink?) to girls not wearing their hats or wearing their jumper without a blazer on Gordon station like Daddy Warbucks throwing hundred dollar bills at anyone to DEAR GOD stop that kid singing about the hard knock life.
In my defense it was less about some desperate bid for power and more the burning desire, no need, for everyone to do the right thing. I mean, is it so hard, is it such a crushing blow to your sense of identity, such a smothering of your character to simply wear a uniform correctly? It mystifies me to this day.
University marked a bit of a lull in the quest for world domination but being the Orientation Week Coordinator satiated the craving somewhat, particularly the serve I dished out to head of the Christian student group (Kingsley Box if my memory serves me correctly) for going into an information session carrying a dead rat and proselytizing to some very wide-eyed freaked-out first years. Nor the serve I dished out to one Gabby Millgate for defending him via the uni newspaper.
OK, this is starting to look bad.
Of course, in my adult life I have found the perfect forum to instigate rules and met out punishment when said rules are
ignored laughed at disobeyed, I became a parent. Better still, I became a parent to boys. Boys need order and structure and parameters and the unquestioning love of their mothers. I have created the perfect storm of parenting while satisfying my penchant for power.
Which brings me to last weekend. Yes, the weekend when I crashed into the back of a parked car as my very own fuck-you to the commercialisation of Mother’s Day
Before that blinding moment of sheer driving terror I was, brace for it, Ground Marshall.
And I quote (my bolding for your viewing pleasure):
Ground Marshall duties are to:
o Make sure the ground is set up correctly
o Introduce yourself to the opposing team and the referee
o Make sure game is capable of starting on time
o Make sure no one other than authorised persons are allowed on the playing enclosure (i.e. Referee, 2 water runners per team, touch judges only). Please note, Coaches and Managers must be behind the rope during the game except at half time.
o At half time only coaches and managers may enter the field. No parents allowed. Only the Captain of each side may talk to the Referee at half time.
o Control of serious injury situations (Managers have sheets and instructions – familiarise yourself with these)
o Have a mobile phone available
o Call ambulances if necessary
o Emergency contact numbers are in the Clubhouse. P2 key opens emergency vehicle gate – see Manager / Age Coordinator for key
o Allow only Newport appointed, or at other grounds, designated trained professionals to deal with serious injuries
o Enforce the spectator code of conduct particularly in respect of referees who should not receive any adverse comments from the crowd or coaches. Only the captain may talk to the referee during the game (including half time)
As you can see, a role not to be taken lightly.
Here’s what I learnt:
1. There is a distinct lack of respect for the rope marking the boundary between “playing enclosure” and “spectator area”. DISAPPOINTING.
2. Coaches struggle with the concept, nay, rule: “Coaches and Managers must be behind the rope during the game except at half time.” Bless ’em.
2. Fathers have a belief that even though they are not the coach, nor the manager, and not even a water runner or touch judge but are, in this situation, “just a parent”, they can still come on the field at half time to take part in the coaching process. NEGATIVE.
3. A father begging to be allowed on the field at half time is not pretty. “I just want to talk to my son.” NEGATIVE. “I think it could help a lot.” NICE TRY. Not going to happen.
What can I say, I am a stickler for the rules and no, they were not there to be broken but to ensure everyone has a safe and fair game on match day.
Oh don’t worry, I kept it fun and upbeat, that was a lesson hard learnt years ago, the whole catching bees with honey vs vinegar malarkey. But they knew.
Our team manager, a dynamo of organisation and while also the mother of four children is alarmingly about the width of one of my legs, loved me. Informed me I was going to be on permanent Ground Marshall duty. That it had been an ongoing issue of other parents coming onto the field during half time and that I was AWESOME.
Sorted. That whole, “I really need a job” scenario SOLVED!
Then we turn up at this weeks match and I see one of the dads pulling on the vest, my vest and look, let’s be honest, I’m a little put out. One of the other dads makes a comment about how scary I was the week before but I know he means authoritative. Someone else pipes up they thought I was on permanent duties now – I concur. He reassures me that when it’s his turn I can
resume my rightful place fill in for him.
As it was, Sunday was a cracker of a game. Two very evenly matched sides in quite the battle. Felix had a blinder – more touches on the ball than I’ve seen and man, did he bulldoze his way through. It’s awesome to see your kid find their passion. At half time it was 5-nil to them. At the final siren? 17-10 to us.
Now give me back my vest.