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What Are Your Earliest Childhood Memories of Soccer?

 What Are Your Earliest Childhood Memories of Soccer?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or, for we soccer supporters, which came first for you – playing soccer or watching it on television?

Looking back to my childhood, I lived in a village of just a few hundred people in west Wales. My earliest memory of watching soccer on television was probably the FA Cup Final of 1976 or 1977. By then, I would have been six or seven years old. I fell in love with soccer by playing it at my local primary school.

If I tried to count the number of hours I played soccer with my friends during evenings, weekends and summer holidays, I would quickly lose count. When it wasn’t raining, I was always at the playground that was down the street from my terraced house. It was where my cousin and my mates from school would use our jumpers as goalposts and we would play impromptu soccer games for what seemed like hours each day. In the summertime, we would play until it got dark. And at that time of the year, it didn’t get dark until after 10 at night.

But my very first introduction to soccer most probably came during primary school which I entered when I was five. We had an asphalt yard immediately behind the school which was bordered by four walls. The class I was in was small, the only class for my age group. And we would have had approximately 12 children in there. Each morning, a crate of milk would be delivered to the classroom where each child was encouraged to take a glass bottle and to drink straight from the bottle. It was the “free school milk” program.

What about you? What are your first memories of being introduced to the sport and was it on television or playing the game? I look forward to reading your stories.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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6 Responses to What Are Your Earliest Childhood Memories of Soccer?

  1. Marc says:

    I started playing soccer in 1981. I was 8 years old. We had 2 age groups 8-10 year olds & 11-12. This was a new sport to me and most of the parents and coaches. One memory I had was saving a penalty kick in the final minutes of the game. Another was one game it was getting dark out so the parents parked their cars along the pitch and turned their lights on so we could finish the game. I played AYSO soccer, high school, and up to a few years ago on my local summer rec team. Now I ref high school level soccer.

  2. Wolves in SC says:

    As a seven year old, the 1966 World Cup on television was my introduction to football.

    My dad took me to Molineux for the first match of the following season and, though Wolves lost that old second division match to Birmingham, they would end the 66-67 season being promoted. I was at Coventry late that season when Wolves lost their chance at the second division championship in front of Coventry’s all time record crowd. Highfields Road was so overcrowded that day, that most of the kids (me included) were lifted above the heads of the adults and watched the match from the side of the pitch.

    I didn’t play organized football until I was 10 at the end of primary school. For the next 7 or 8 years, I would play for my school on Saturday morning and follow Wolves home or away in the afternoon. Living in the Midlands meant that you could make most away games in a couple of hours.

    I came to the US on a soccer scholarship in the late 70s. The biggest adjustment, other than the heat, was the lack of coverage of English football. Finding a recent New York Times in the library, was the only way to get any football scores. News from home was 7 days in the mail.

    Coming off the wonderful coverage of the World Cup and straight into night after night of televised friendlies makes it seems like a hundred years ago!

  3. Dave C says:

    I’m also from a smallish village.

    We sometimes played some kind of football in Infant school (5-7). We basically just charged around with the ball in any direction until someone else managed to steal it (which was pretty often). There were no teams, no goals, no rules and no real purpose, the fun was just in being the one with the ball for as long as possible.

    Then suddenly when we started Junior school (7 1/2 – 11), this instantly morphed into proper games. I’m not sure why, because it was the EXACT same group of kids as were in infant school – we had all simply moved up a year. But suddenly our game had evolved to something like real football. We had a field (defined by trees, fences and other natural boundaries), two goals (with jumpers for goal posts, of course), and two defined and roughly numerically-equal teams – it was ALWAYS one class (i.e half the year-group) versus the other.

    The strangest thing was, our team was totally dominant – we basically had one or two kids who who were good for their age, whereas the other class didn’t. So we won nearly every single time (i.e. morning break, lunch break and afternoon break, every school day for 4 years of primary school). Strangely it never got boring.

  4. Anthony Shortland says:

    I recall the 1970 World Cup finals. In particular, I have an abiding memory of Bobby Charlton bursting a ball with his first touch at the kick-off of one of the games.

    The thing is I’ve never been able to confirm whether this actually happened (I was eight at the time)!

    Does anyone else recall this?

  5. Smokey Bacon says:

    Southampton 1 Man United 0 in the 1976 cup final

  6. Jen says:

    I remember watching my little brother (although not so little any more) play soccer on Saturday mornings either before or after my netball games.

    My parents got us into sports to help us ‘country kids’ make friends outside school. It worked and we loved it!

    One particular game of soccer I remember vividly. No team had managed to score the entire first half, the pressure was mounting and frustration was starting to creep in. There was chaos going on in the mid field and then suddenly my brother had the ball and was screaming down the sideline. The sideline of parents erupted into cheers, this could be our chance.

    The speed at which Andrew took off meant that most of his team mates had a bit of catching up to do but he was running out of field and time. My brother had two opposition players coming for him, one right behind him and the goalie poised ready for his strike.

    Suddenly my brother slammed the brakes on so it became a one on one jostle but after a few quick taps and he was free again and charging for the goal. With every stride you could see the confidence in him build, I was so proud of him. By that stage the parent cheer squad had joined him down near the goal only to see him give it one big boot to clear the goalie.

    The last one to say anything was my dad who yelled ‘go son!’ but then there was silence as the ball sailed through the air.

    Many held their breath before eventually seeing the ball deflect off the inside of the top bar and bounce in! What a goal! His team surrounding him to give him praise and taps on the head. He had done it for the team! That was the only goal for the game but its effect lasted long after the whistle.

    That was 20 years ago.

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