So, some years ago after the 8-2 defeat to Manchester United, I posted this sorry anecdote as means of consolation. As we sit here now, digesting the horror of a 10-2 defeat to Bayern, it’s probably time to bring this back to the light.
The year is 2011, and I was at college, studying on an access course to get into university. I had been forced by a selection of circumstances to move back to my home town of Dover, a place that I have long harboured a healthy dislike for. This incident did nothing to change this.
It was a tricky time in my life, I’d narrowly avoided homelessness and found myself living in a hotel on Dover seafront that was mainly used to house people who were on the verge of deportation, or were fighting cases against it. To say conditions there were poor is to severely understate the matter. I had near run-ins with exploding electricity outlets, leaks of various descriptions, rodents and caught a particularly nasty stomach bug from foolishly drinking the water on one occasion.
On the plus side, I’d recently got back in contact with a girl who I had first gotten to know at school. I’d always had a bit of a thing for her, and she, inexplicably, had one for me too. She wasn’t even put off by the hotel from hell. We met up a few times, and things were going well. My luck, at least in this respect, appeared to be in.
The young lady was on something of a health drive at the time and had taken up swimming, and thus formed the fateful idea that we should go swimming together. I was less than keen, being of a less than herculean physique. I didn’t want to shatter this girl’s interest in me by displaying my upper body or athletic abilities, both of which I feared to be deal breakers.
Nonetheless, the girl was insistent and so, foolishly I overcame my reluctance and consented. I followed this up by purchasing some bright blue Hawaiian trunks for the occasion.
So to the day of the fateful incident. The young lady and I met at the leisure centre, only a short walk from the hotel from hell, and made our way in. I navigated the minefield of the men’s changing room and it’s array of elederly men in various states of undress as quickly as possible, anxious to enter the water before the girl and thus keep my portly dimensions at least a little obscured.
Amazingly, she was ready before me and so not for the first time I felt the keen burn of embarrassment. Nonetheless I shook it off and entered the pool and we swam a few lengths.
At this point my confidence increased. I was doing ok, keeping pace and my lack of fitness remaining at bay. Unfortunately this was not to last. Midway through the next length, came the sickening but familiar sensation of my shoulder slipping from its socket.
This, I should have mentioned, was something my shoulder was prone to doing from time to time, and which has been subsequently surgically repaired. This left me adrift, one armed and slightly out of my depth.
Dislocatating a shoulder in a swimming pool was, surprisingly, not that painful compared to other occasions it happened on. The water supported the shoulder well and it was only when someone swam past that the shoulder was rattled that it really hurt.
Nonetheless, I had to make my way to the pool’s edge. Noticing my incapacitation, my young lady joined me and I explained the problem. She, concerned, suggested we get out of the pool but this was not so easily accomplished as there were only ladders with which to do this. I found when I tried to use them that when my shoulder rose above water level, it was much too painful to continue climbing.
Thus, I decided to summon the assistance of the attendant. He was not the greatest of the thinking kind and when I explained the problem, his response was “I’m not sure what we can do about that mate.” I, losing patience and with mounting pain, asked with irritation if the leisure centre had a physiotherapist and it turned out that yes, they did.
A few minutes later the man appeared. He studied the situation and declared he couldn’t do anything while I was in the pool. It was then that he uttered the blood curdling words “we may have to use the hoist.”
Thus alarmed, I made several new attempts to escape the pool, failing horribly in pain and embarrassment. The staff, meanwhile fetched and assembled the hoist.
This particular hoist looked like a chair on a fishing rod. Defeated, I made my way to it and strapped myself in.
Moments later, the ascent, powered manually by a footpump which jarred my dislocated shoulder with each movement, began. I was raised high above the pool. Higher, I think, than necessary. I could be seen by all the swimmers, all the spectators, of which by this stage there were many, and indeed from the street outside, where a small group had also noticed the proceedings. Of course, my date watched on in horror as well.
Thus winched to the side of the pool, my shoulder then shifted of its own accord, back into socket. This too was something it regularly did. The physio then accused me of having a laugh, and I made my way to the changing room to shower in disgrace.
It should not come as a surprise that this was not a relationship that lasted the rest of time, and that the moral is that it can always get worse than football.