Monday, 25 October 2010

Jack of Hearts

Back in August I wrote about taking my five year old grandson Jack to Tynecastle for his very first football game. Hearts played St. Johnstone in the opening league game of the season and as we headed along Edinburgh's Gorgie Road to the game with the wee man resplendent in his Hearts top (okay, so it was last season's top as it was considerably cheaper than buying this season's monstrosity and it might have been a bit too big for him but it was all the club shop had left..) I felt my heart swell with pride. This was a truly historic moment - Jack's first Hearts game.

I recalled my first Hearts game way back in 1968 when my father took me to Falkirk in the days when I lived in Cumbernauld. Many like-minded devotees of the famous Heart of Midlothian recall their first Hearts game and I felt sure Jack would remember this tumultuous day and regale it to his children and grandchildren in decades to come.

Alas, Jack didn't find the experience particularly joyous and seemed underwhelmed by the occasion. In fact he asked if he could go home after just ten minutes. Fair enough, I thought to myself - my plan to introduce him to the sometimes despairing life of being a Hearts supporter had backfired. And I couldn't really blame him. However, I was touched when he told me on the journey home that he wanted to go back again. Bless him, I thought, he doesn't want to upset me.

So it was something of a surprise when, more than two months later, Jack told me wanted to go back to the football. I asked him several times if he was sure as he was clearly unhappy first time around. 'No' he insisted, 'I want to go with you'.

Thus, Jack sat next to me at Tynecastle on Saturday as Hearts demolished St. Mirren 3-0. The scoreline apart, it was much the same as his first visit. He was happy enough pre-match. He devoured the hot dog I purchased and guzzled his carton of blackcurrant juice quite happily. He pondered the antics of the Hearts mascot Tynie Tiger and the expression on his face clearly illustrated he just wondered why the hell would someone dress as a maroon and white tiger with a giant head and prance around the field like an idiot...But when the game itself started Jack became bored and wanted to go home. He sat restless in the freezing cold  for ninety minutes, oblivious to Rudi Skacel's marvellous hat-trick. However, as we headed out of the ground at the end of the game, he looked up to me and said 'Papa, that was good, can I go to the next game?'

I ruffled his hair and laughed and said 'Let's go to McDonald's...' I admired his sensitivity for one so young and felt proud that a such an early age, Jack was thinking about others - a trait to be admired in this day and age. It damn well nearly brought a tear to my eye.

On Saturday evening I spoke to the infamous Mrs Smith on the telephone. It's the only way we communicate these days (okay, if truth be told she was in Aberdeen visiting relatives) With her female intuition she remarked that Jack simply loves being with his Papa. He loved the bus journey to the game and back, he talked incessantly on both journeys, he loved his hot dog and relished  - if you'll pardon the pun - the trip to McDonald's afterwards. Mrs Smith told me it was patently obvious why Jack wants to go back to the football - not for the game itself but to spend the afternoon with his Papa.

And there's my dilemma. I also cherish my time spent with Jack. But I don't want him to sit through a football game he doesn't enjoy just so he can spend time with me. The obvious answer is for me to take the wee fella somewhere else other than the football. Which I will do  - just not on a Saturday afternoon.

I'm hoping Jack will develop an interest in football now he has started primary school. And if he does then I'll be ready to take him back to Tynecastle where hopefully we can both enjoy the match day experience. Of course there's an outside chance he may choose to follow Edinburgh's wee team Hibernian.  If he does I will do what any self-respecting Hearts supporting grandad would do.

I'll disown him.......


Adullamite said...

Great post!

miruspeg said...

Jack sounds like a chip off the old block! The old block being YOU!
Kind, sensitive, he is definitely the Jack of Hearts.....that was a good title for this post....double took me a while to figure that out Mike!

Isn't it wonderful when a child likes to spend time with us.

Big hugs to you and Jack.
Peggy xxxx

Sausage Fingers said...

Ahhh a memory the lad will never forget. Standing on the terraces at Tannadice with my dad is a memory that is burned in my brain. Nice one.

Mike Smith said...

Adullamite - you'll know what it's about...

Peggy - thank you, you're very kind!

Sausage Fingers - and those were steep terracings at Tannadice...

Joanna Jenkins said...

Jack is a sweetheart trying to be a big boy to hang out with his Papa. I love that. But he's still young and the game is kinda long-- but I bet he grows into it and eventually enjoys the game as much as time with you and all the goodies he gets to eat.

No doubt he'll remember and cherish the memories :-)

Nice post. jj

Anonymous said...

try this one at the next game...

give Jack a pound coin in his hand and tell him that it changes hands every time play stops (goal kick, corner, free-kick etc) until a goal is scored - and the person holding the coin at that stage keeps it. He should then become more engaged and start following play by playing a game along with you.

never do this before stuff like that 6-6 Dundee United v Hearts match you posted up recently....!)

Mike Smith said...

An excellent idea, Ken!