The regular Sunday afternoon football used to be in Ruskin Park, down behind King’s College Hospital. It’s rather a nice park, with the grassy areas falling away to sunken gardens, a discreet bowling green, a playground for the kids, tennis courts, and a small strip of undefined grass where we held our scratch five-a-side games.
Earlier in the year, we found that the competition for that small patch of grass was getting too intense (it’s not easy kicking kids off ‘your’ pitch), so we upped sticks to Peckham Rye Common (literally: we have lovingly hand-crafted goals made out of plastic guttering). Being a common, it has more flat grass than we could possibly make use of, meaning that the pitch size has stealthily risen over the past few months.
An unexpected advantage of the move is that on Sunday afternoons, the Common is bursting with people looking to join in a kickaround. If we’re short of numbers there are usually a couple of lads standing behind a goal, looking wistful and trying to catch someone’s eye. We’ve had all sorts join in, from ball-hogging fancy dans to enthusiastic 12 year olds who get under everyone’s feet.
Last Sunday there were seven of us. Nearby, three toned looking lads in black singlet tops had just finished a park-style kickaround, and had sat down to enjoy the sun. We asked if they were interested in making up the numbers. They were.
In the way of these things, it was half-time before we got beyond names. The lads turned out to be three-fifths of a ‘male vocal pop group’. In other words, a boy band.
They have been holed up in a house together in South London while they record their first tracks for release in the New Year. This week we may get the full hand as they all seemed keen to take an occasional break from recording.
And how did they perform? As you’d expect, the footwork was good, but there wasn’t much of a creative spark, and little cutting edge.