Posts Tagged ‘cup final’

30 day challenge

Eliza has joined L and me on (so far) two 30 day challenges with escalating physical demands. First, we did ‘abs and squats’ and now we’re attempting an arm strength challenge. We get together in the evening for that day’s exercise. Eliza goes first, so she can finish first. She does the exercises frenetically, pitching her torso up and down with sit-ups, not with the control I would expect of her as a gymnast. The fourth and final daily arm exercise is shadow boxing. Eliza thrashes her arms, getting quite uppity at the futility of the exercise and liking one of us to hold a pillow that she can flail at. 

Robin has played in his second cup final of the year, this time representing school. His team won all six matches, barely conceding a goal and with Robin leading scorer with 11. He has, I’m told, impressed playing alongside his friend and Man Utd academy player, Big L. 

The Beatles continue to be Gabe’s favourite band – to listen to and to play on the piano (Lady Madonna, at the moment). But he’s allowing other long defunct groups into his listening repertoire: Bowie, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones and most surprisingly, the Smiths. He’s interested in which songs L and I like, encouraging us to add them to Spotify playlists (the subscription for which he convinced us to buy). He’ll listen to our choices, but hand down his own judgement on the correctness of our taste. 


Quiet birthday


All of the children’s birthdays are recorded here, with a note of the theme of the party or event. Gabe’s 15th was the quiet birthday. He had refused the option of a party, a meal out with friends, or a cinema trip. L had the idea of a visit to the Beatles Museum in Liverpool. “No, thanks. Don’t want to spend my birthday in the car.” He was, he said, happy to have a quiet day. A meal at a pizza restaurant? No, pizza at home. 

And he was happy. A football match, the last of the season, in the morning. Then a quiet afternoon, cheerful and sociable with us all, pizza and presents. L and I briefly worried about some sort of social anxiety, but it’s more like a preference for no fuss and self-possession. 


Eliza’s desire to have pets surfaced again. ‘Yes,’ we said to a question about gerbils and knowing how she stores and accumulates riches like a rodent, ‘you can buy them’. Bumble and Bianco, two small brothers, live in a cage in her room. She seems satisfied and her own brothers happy to have them around without the responsibility of looking after them. 


Robin’s team qualified for the cup final to play at Trafford United’s ground against the only team they didn’t defeat during the season. On a bright, sunny day, with a loud crowd around two sides of the pitch, the opposition took an early lead. Robin had the best chance to equalise in the first half, but missed. He saw little of the ball, with the other team’s defence outstanding. The second half continued with the other team missing chances. Robin was moved into attack and deep into the second half, screened a bouncing ball from a defender and as it dropped on the corner of the area, volleyed it past the keeper. His team clung on through full, then extra time. Robin took the first penalty and scored. After 4 penalties, the score was tied 2-2. Luke made a diving save and then took the final penalty, scored to win the final and man of the match. Robin revelled in the experience, particularly enjoying playing in front of a noisy crowd. 

3 Finals, 2 extra-times and 1 penalty shoot-out


Gabe’s football season ended with three finals – two with school and one with his club. The first was entirely one-sided affair in all respects except the score. Despite oodles of possession and pressure his side couldn’t conjure a goal. Mid way through the second half, the opposition broke away and took the lead. There was an equaliser and then two periods of extra time when both sides struggled with fatigue. Onto penalties, and Gabe was one of the cool-headed players, tucking his penalty away to the keeper’s right, to contribute to a 5-4 victory. 

A week later, Gabe played in school finals on the Monday and Friday – both at Man United’s training ground. The first was a comfortable victory. The second saw Gabe’s school go 3-0 behind in the first 10 minutes; then 4-3 up at half-time; 4-4 at full time, with his school getting the winner three minutes from the end of extra time. 

Gabe has won every game of football he has played this season. 


Robin played three cricket matches in six days, including his hard-ball debut. He managed the distinction of taking wickets for three different age group teams in one week. He has decided that hard-ball cricket is the way to go. 


Eliza and L have an act, based on a Little Britain sketch where a shopkeeper shouts up the stairs to his wife whenever a customer asks a question. “Margaret” he shouts shrilly, and she responds in a similar high pitch. And this is exactly how L and Eliza negotiate any downstairs to upstairs communication. Eliza doesn’t need to put on an act to get the squeaky high pitch response. 

Anniversary weekend


Heading south by car to Nan and Grandad’s on Friday, Eliza occupied herself by:

  • playing the successive initials game (i.e. naming someone whose initials are AB, BC, CD, etc)
  • doing her homework, which happened to be familiarising herself with the songs for her Easter concert – which she did by singing them over and over again
  • making up her own song about a fox who pounced and a rabbit who bounced.

At Nan and Grandad’s, she became cousin S’s playmate. This involved writing numbers, names, drawing animals and a game of hunt the peg.


Gabe spent Friday and Saturday coolly telling people how much he was looking forward to his cup final on Sunday morning. Something switched on Saturday evening when all the signs of anxiety struck. A bad night’s sleep was followed by a grumpy, upset and downbeat journey back to the football match. But on the pitch he regained his cool – not only playing well, but with a smile, throughout the tense final. He hit the post in extra-time before his team conceded two late goals and lost 3-1.


We stayed at the sausage dog B&B. Last time, Robin had fled the little dogs. His canine-phobia is little diminished, but the low-slung beasts fascinated him and made him anxious at the same time. A door remained between him and them for the whole visit.


Three finals


Gabe played in three end of season cup finals. The first, with Sale Utd threatened to be a mismatch – top club v second bottom. Two minutes in and form was telling as Sale Utd were two goals down. But a battling performance for 58 more minutes saw the game end 2-1.

The two school finals brought a win and a loss. The former on penalties after a 1-1 draw.


Robin played his first cricket match on a damp and cold evening in Bowden. It was played in pairs cricket format. His highlight came with a wicket – bowled – with his second ball in competitive cricket.


Eliza’s cool progression through her gymnastic disciplines came to a halt with the forward flip, which she hasn’t been able to do. Her mood was restored the following week when she managed her first back flick.