It's time to tip out the sports kit and give everything a damn good clean. What if you're not going to use it again? The Doc mulls over his retirement. The weekend warriors deserve their moment in the sun too.

Retirement for the Weekend Warrior

“Today I would like to announce my retirement from competitive football. After discussions with my family, close friends and my coaches I have decided now is the right time to end my career.  I would like to thank my family, my coach and all the lads at (add club name here).  I can’t believe it is all over and the old players are right, it goes very quickly.”

Heard it before? Yes. We’ve seen and heard speeches like this over the years when a professional sportsperson calls it a day.  Either a statement or a press conference is held with the player – holding back tears in front of the media, family, teammates and supporters – announcing the end of their playing days.

So what about the rest of us who trudge around the suburban and country fields around this country playing for love and sometimes money in the various sports we play? Do we have our moment in the spotlight or do we trudge off the ground one last time, throw the boots into the corner saying “Stuff this, I can’t do it anymore”?

For me, accepting that I can’t play a full 90 minutes of Football (Soccer) came to me just the other day. The stupid thing is, I’ve known for much longer than that, that it’s is all over.  It’s been far too long  since my body’s allowed me to play the full 90 minutes of a game. Even thought I haven’t played a competitive game for nearly three years, I still have a bag with my boots and my shin guards ready to go. They’re in a sports bag that I have not opened since my last game. Aside from the intensity of the stink that is awaiting me when I unzip it, I haven’t been able to bring myself to unpack my kit.

In my last season, my body was so buggered that my warm up at training was a very slow shuffle around the soccer pitch, some stretches and loosening up exercises.  If I got through the single training session for the week, then I announced myself fit to play.

The league we played in allowed interchanges  – as opposed to substituting players out –  which, for guys in their late 30’s with a broken down body, was a godsend.  I could manage 20 minute bursts on the pitch, followed by a 10 minute spell on the bench which got me through games.  It didn’t help that if I kicked the ball too hard my hip flexor would ping costing me two weeks on the sidelines, which,  – apart from the frustration of yet another soft-tissue injury – also meant losing whatever fitness I had worked my arse off to gain.

It got to the point where after games or training I would go into the family pool in waist deep water and walk around shivering in 5 degree ‘heat’.  My dad, a former player himself would ask me; “are you getting paid for this?” When I answered no, he’d reply; “then why are you doing it?” I should listen to my dad. I remember as a 10 year old, helping him to the car after he injured his back for the 800th time after a game.  He knew then it was time to pull the pin as he wanted a good quality of life when he was older, and to not be a cripple simply because he was too stubborn to quit.

Despite all of this, and my playing status like that of Crowded House (indefinite hiatus),  something in the back of my mind kept telling me that all I had to was drop the weight, have a big preseason, do all the recovery and I could come back and have the best season ever.  However, as time has gone by I know I shall never get back to being the young 19 year old who was fit, hungry and willing.  It’s a reality we all come to and that is ok. We are using our minds more and our experience gives us wisdom we never had as 19 year olds.

In the last 12 months I have become part of a fitness group that does training outdoors.  I have found this a better experience then a gym and the bonds and banter you experience are what I have missed being part of a sporting team.  While you still get aches and pains, you don’t get the knocks and bumps that you have in a football environment which take longer to get over.

So I am cleaning the boots one last time, taking the shin guards out of the stink/sports bag and donating them to a charity.  I hope someone who needs them, who wants to – and is able to – play will get more out of them then I did in my last year of the game.

Having said all that it would have been great to have the tearful farewell.

About Vaughan Menlove

Obsessed with Richmond, Luton Town, Melbourne Victory and Arsenal. The Dr had a soccer career hampered by the realisation he was crap, but could talk his way around the game. Co host of It's Not Called Soccer podcast


  1. So true Vaughan! It takes a great deal of courage to admit to yourself that you’re not as young as you used to be and it it’s an enormous dint to the ego when the things you used to be able to do with ease on the sporting field have deserted you. Well said

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