I’ve mentioned before that the fact Carley likes football as much as I do makes me really happy. Another thing that makes me ridiculously happy is how fond of my brother she is. In light of the fact that Carley bought tickets for the three of us to go to the last Celtic game of the season (where they will be presented with the league trophy), I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you about my younger brother, Michael. Apologies in advance, “proud big sister” Stacey is going to make an appearance.
My brother is just over two years younger than me, and I’ve always been fond of him. Our mother likes to tell a story about when on a family day out, Michael had been having a tantrum and my parents decided that it was just best to let him get on with it and get his rage out of his system. We continued along the path, leaving him behind. It must have only been a short distance, but 5(ish) year old me quickly became inconsolable. “You can’t leave him,” I sobbed, “I’ve only got one brother!”
I don’t really remember much about when we were very young, but my mum informs me that I was always nice to him – I didn’t get annoyed at him being rubbish at stuff just because he was littler than me, and from what I can gather, I always enjoyed his company. We spent a lot of our childhood together, whether that was playing football, riding our bikes, running around by the loch, or “fighting” over who’s turn it was for the computer.
Things were a bit different as we dealt with becoming teenagers; we were both less tolerant of each other and for a substantial period of time, Michael and I were often at each other’s throats – usually about nothing of any importance, in hindsight(!) Despite that though, Michael has always been a good brother. Sure, I was never as “cool” as him, but when things got a bit messy at school when I came out, it was never a big deal. Or even if it was difficult for him, he never let me know that, and outwardly, he always showed me his utmost support. That’s something I’ll always be grateful of.
I said at the start that I am very proud of Michael, and if I am perfectly honest, proud isn’t strong enough a word. For as long as anyone can remember, Michael has wanted to be a footballer. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him mention anything else he’d might like to do. And you know what, he bloody well made it happen. I can quite happily say that my little brother is a footballer.
He started out in the boys’ clubs in Forfar when we were in primary school, and continued to play while he was at Forfar Academy, our high school. He won loads of medals, and I distinctly remember him being awarded players’ player, manager’s player AND supporters’ player of the year for the various clubs he played at. Whilst in high school, he was part of a team that reached the final of the Coca Cola 7s tournament. Even though he was only about 11, it was heartbreaking watching them lose the final game, especially as it was at Hampden Park, the Scottish National Stadium. I’m slightly embarrassed, but I don’t know a lot of the finer details of Michael’s football career, but I do remember that he started playing for Tayport, and featured in a Scotland squad that travelled to Wales, and took part in a Four Nations tournament.
His “big break” came when he started playing for Dundee FC, a Scottish 1st division side. He spent most of his time as captain of the U19s team, but he did have a couple of appearances for the first team, and even got on the BBC sport website once(!) It was around this time that Carley and I started dating, and we both fondly remember a game he played in St. Andrews. Michael doesn’t look back on it the same way: he got sent off. It was watching that game though that I realised he is a total tank: he’s about 6ft 3in, really strong, and has springs in his feet. He almost flies through the air going for a header!
Unfortunately, due to problems with money and such (Dundee went into administration that year), Michael wasn’t going to be kept on once his contract expired. Luckily though, he had another opportunity lined up – soccer!
Jammy bugger only went and got himself a soccer scholarship! Admittedly, he had to sit some tests and stuff, but he was academically good enough to go, and the soccer coaches at Radford University, Virginia were really keen to get him in their squad. It’s also hilarious, because their sports teams at Radford are called The Highlanders. I am so happy for him though, because he’ll get himself a degree, can still play football, AND gets to enjoy the US in his “school holidays”. I’ve lost track of all the places he’s been this year already(!)
I found out last week that he’s coming home for a bit this summer, which is amazing. I do miss him: it’s kind of crap that I’m so busy with work and my own degree, because we don’t Skype as often as I’d like to. But aye, it’s only three weeks until he’s back, and I can’t wait to go to Parkhead and watch Celtic play with my two favourite people ever.
I hope you’re all jealous of how awesome my little brother is.
Later. S xx
PS. Fun fact for you, too: both Michael and Carley’s brother have the same initials. Though Michael doesn’t have them tattooed on the back of his neck …