For many grassroots teams, this weekend marks the start of the new football season.
Holidays are out the way, kids are back to school and the focus is fully on the weekend's games. Many of you will have your own rituals, be it a lucky coffee cup you'll drink from on the morning of the game, or the post-match trip to McDonalds for a celebratory Big Mac and milkshake.
Yet there'll also be things that thousands of parents up and down the country will no doubt be doing in unison pre-match.
We asked Paul Kirton, from our mates at Team Grassroots, to come up with what the typical grassroots parent's pre-match routine looks like, and here's what he said...
The night before
Check the weather forecast and be prepared for sunshine, so be careful if you’re wearing Crocks as we definitely have seen some spotted feet from suntanning.
You also need to be prepared for rain so wet your bones will be soaking; wind so windy that the march from the car park to the sideline can get interesting, and also the thing that will get you the most, the cold.
If you're new it’s important to differentiate between normal cold and grassroots cold, which will feel at times like you’re standing in a bucket of cement whilst your cheeks are so frozen your face looks has had one too many jabs of botox.
You will feel the need to have things ready the night before like strips, shin pads, boots, a water bottle, etc.
Whilst we agree with the sentiment, in the magical world of grassroots football this will all be in vain as, come tomorrow morning, your best efforts to be prepared will, in fact, be destroyed by the shin pad fairy or the spare sock elves, all of which will enjoy sprinkling that little bit of stress on your day.
The day of the game
– Time to get up. I appreciate this is early as the kick-off isn’t until 11 and the kids aren’t up at this time for school in midweek but you can guarantee they’ll be up and wide awake today.
06.01 – ‘Mum, where’s my shin pads?’ (We told you where they are)
06.02 – ‘Dad, where’s my water bottle?’ (We did tell you)
06.03 – BOTH: ‘It’s 6am and your game doesn’t kick-off until 11! Get back to bed it's still the middle of the night!’
06.04 – A constant kicking of the ball against the sofa eventually forces you to get up.
06.10 – Kettle on.
06.11 – ‘What time are we leaving? Who are we playing? Are they any good? Have we played them before? How far is it? Will I be striker? Where is my strip? I think I left my boots at school…’
06.12 – BOTH: ‘I haven’t even had a pee or a brew yet, someone help!’
06.30 – Brews finished and feeling pretty ready for the day, 4 hours 30mins until kick-off.
06.45 – ‘Mum/Dad my socks are still wet as I wore them yesterday.’
06.46 – The tumble dryer is on, frantically drying the wettest socks in history, it’s not even worth asking how they’re so wet.
07.01 – ‘Mum, is it time to go to the game yet?’ (No)
07.02 – ‘Dad, is it time to go to the game yet?’ (No)
07.03 – ‘Is it time now?’ (No!)
07.30 – Socks are out of the tumble dryer. Good news, they’re dry; bad news, they have that odour… you know which one I mean.
07.31 – Contemplate rushing to Sports Direct for socks then remember it's 7.30 in the morning.
08.00 – Have breakfast whilst having to explain what time you’re leaving at several times. Try not to turn into the honey monster and remember your child is just excited and it's perfectly normal to ask 78 times before 8 AM what time you’re leaving.
08.20 – Coach texts the group chat wishing everyone good morning and asking if everyone is fit and well and ready for the game.
08.21 – Sarcastic response from one of the dads saying he’s pulled a hamstring and is not fit to play, everyone else thumbs up.
09.00 – Have a panic as you remember my child thinks their boots are at school. Search the entire house, garage, car, shed, school bag and again consider going to a sports shop to buy new boots. Decide to check the boot bag, where they always are, first and to your relief and frustration, there they are. Panic over.
10.00 – Get ready to leave the house.
10.01 – Mum/Dad where is my (endless list of everything that they told you was ready the night before)
10.15 – Find all the items on the endless list of stuff missing.
10.20 – Relax as you now have everything and can leave for the match.
10.21 – Frantically check the WhatsApp group as a last-minute wave of panic sets in over what the postcode is for what you thought was an away game.
10.23 – Phew, it’s actually at home, a five-minute drive.
10.25 – Mum, I need the toilet.
10.26 – Dad, I’m hungry.
10.27 – Are we nearly there yet?
10.30 – ARRIVE and hand over to our brilliant coach
11.00 – Kick-off. Well done, you finally made it! T-minus seven days to get ready for the next game.
This is an extract from Kick N Mix, our grassroots football newsletter. Use the form above to sign up and receive Kick N Mix direct to your inbox every week.