Grassroots football is where it all begins. Even the Premier League stars might understand the not so glamorous nitty gritty Sunday mornings that get so many of us excited every week.
But why do we love them so much? Let's delve into some of the problems every footballer will have faced at some point in his career when waking up on a cold and wet Sunday morning; a stark contrast to the weekend routine of a professional footballer.
Sunday league problems. Game stopped to tape net to crossbar pic.twitter.com/wQiWrZpvUh— Simon Harper (@simonovingham) September 13, 2015
1. Having to put the nets up & down (if you have any, of course)
This is always a classic routine, the smallest guy having to go on the tallest guys shoulders because it's his turn and he can't reach the crossbar without a little help.
It's always a chore, you'll sometimes end up missing half the warm up because of how tangled the net had become in the equipment cupboard during the week. Then, when you thought you'd nailed it, your centre back would smash one into the open net thinking he was Luis Suarez and cause it to unclip itself from the goal. Nightmare.
The dreaded "right guys, can you help take down the nets please" from the coach is something you never want to hear. It's 10 times worse after a defeat too.
2. Running out of pegs for the nets
You'll go through all the hassle of putting the nets up, only to find the U14's have had to steal them for their game on the other side of the park.
Sunday league problems 😳 pic.twitter.com/iAJammVM5P— Pig & Whistle FC (@PigandWhistleFC) July 30, 2017
Because of the no peg situation, your striker will probably end up sticking it right in the bottom corner but because the ball has trickled into the bush behind the goal, the referee thinks it's gone wide.
This is great as the defending team, there's no way your owning up to the fact your opposition have quite clearly just scored because it was too funny watching the striker have a proper strop.
3. Arguing about whether a goal went in because you had no nets
Nets are imperative in a football match, right?
Not in Sunday league, you could have scored the best goal of your life and it wouldn't be given because half of the people on the field think it's flown past the wrong side of the post.
You, your team mates, the manager and the parents will argue until the cows come home (sometimes literally) but the referee simply won't budge on his decision.
4. Clearing mole hills before kick off
There's always at least one ground in your division that was famous for mole hills. They were a bit of a nightmare when they were damp and your shiny new Predators don't deserve to be covered in mole hill mud, so your hand would have to do the dirty work instead.
5. Clearing water off the pitch with a bucket or brush
We all know that most Sunday league pitches don't hold up well when there's rain around. A heavy downpour on a Saturday night always cast's doubt about whether you'll have to do some water clearing in the morning to ensure the game goes ahead.
Grabbing a bucket out of the shed in the morning is always a good idea, especially as a keeper. You know full well that your goal mouth will have more chance of ducks swimming on it than a single blade of grass.
6. Sloping pitches
Is a pitch really a grassroots or Sunday league pitch if it was perfectly flat? The decision to kick up or down the hill first half is always a hot topic during the warm up.
7. Having to go find the ball that was lost in bushes, gardens and rivers
Wading your way through thorns, nettles, wildlife and whatever else you stumble across as a sub after your defender had unnecessarily booted the ball half a mile into the farmer's field is a regular task.
Some neighbours must dread Sunday's. Plants, greenhouses and windows would all be at risk.
Shooting drills in the warm up usually cause the most chaos. There are times where you won't even get a go at pinging one in the top corner because the rest of your team mates are in the stream or bushes behind the goal trying to retrieve the balls they've shanked off target.
Ball boys at grassroots would have their work cut out, that's for sure.
8. The warm up consisting of jogging up and down one side of the pitch three times
More often than not, being told to warm up as a sub when it's nearing your time to shine consists of doing exactly this. To mix it up, you'll probably take a ball with you or include a couple of imaginary jumping headers.
9. Throwing the ball down the line at every thrown in
Full backs, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The good old "just line it" is the call every centre back says to you when you spend more than four seconds looking around for options from your midfielders and defenders.
10. Feeling slightly ill when you had to wear the bibs in training
Even if you wash them, they have a distinct smell that really doesn't sit well. Avoiding them at all costs (unless you need that extra layer when you're freezing) is a priority, but inevitably the stench will haunt you numerous times during the season.
11. Missing kick off because your mum took a wrong turn
Unless you're well organised, making it to the furthest fixture of the season with time to spare is always a tough ask. If your mum hasn't ever taken a wrong turn when taking you to a football match then you're part of a lucky few.
12. Very, very biased linesman
As a winger or striker, you know at least one of your legitimate goals or mazing runs will be called offside by an opponents dad or an opposing sub.
Admittedly, they're going to get the odd decision wrong, but when you're five yards inside your own half and the flag bolts up you know you're not in for a fun afternoon.
13. (Lack of) changing rooms
More often than not, it's a case of getting changed at home or sitting on the back of someone's car when putting your kit on. If you're lucky, you'll have a small hut or shipping container available to have a bit of privacy.
Damp, cold and virtually no use what so ever, but at least it's something.
14. Sitting on a plastic bag or old towel on the way home
When you were younger, this was always the case. Dad didn't want his newly cleaned car getting dirty and bringing a change of clothes was a bit of a no go because, where are you meant to get changed?
This is probably still the case as you get older, there's no way you're letting yourself or anyone else get your new Vauxhall Corsa dirty.
15. Forgetting your shin pads
We've all done this at least once, surely?
The sudden realisation that you've forgotten your shinnies is a horrible feeling, frantically asking if anyone has a spare pair knowing full well they don't.
Cardboard is always a popular option but if there's none of that available, it's down to one of the subs to take one for the team.
16. Not enough cars for away games
Cramming your whole squad in a maximum of three cars because no one wants to drive to the other side of the county is probably a recurring theme.
17. The communal wee in the hedge before kick off
The ritual of going for a squad toilet break after your pre match team talk is something every team does, it could be the difference between winning and losing a game.
18. Paying your own fines if you were ever carded
Now and again you lose your temper in a football match. Sometimes the referee will be slightly harsh and give you a yellow, or sometimes even a red.
The worst thing about it? Having to grovel to the referee at full time to try and get him to withdraw the card and not send it to the league. If that doesn't work, expect to fork out some of your hard earned wages.
19. Coming off the pitch to find the subs have drank all the water
The annoyance after doing a proper stint for your team, only to find your thoughtful team mates who haven't been on the pitch have drank all the water or used it to wash their boots...
If anyone has come face to face with any other grassroots football problems, don't be afraid to comment. You probably won't be the only one...