I have always been an optimist. Even in the gravest of circumstances, facing adversity in the extreme, the glass moving into view in my rear view mirror has been half full. A lot of this I attribute to my mother, not because she was a raging optimist or anything, but because she always believed in the capacity of a raffle ticket to keep ya going. Mum, who passed away last October was an avid competition addict. She kept the newsagents in Ballinrobe going with her weekly stash of magazines on myriad subjects, not because of any latest interest in the subject matter, but because the said magazine would have a crossword or a competition that necessitated a bit of research, a stamp, and an envelope; And off it would go in the post.
Such was the number and variety of these competitions and crosswords, that every day brought the possibility of a knock on the door from the postman with word that a prize had been won; and it wasn’t always the value of the prize, but the joy of winning. In her lifetime, she won televisions, furniture, sun holidays (which she never took ), cash prizes (which she did ), bicycles, hundreds, maybe thousands of vouchers and on one occasion, a tonne of horseshit for use as a fertiliser (which wasn’t much use to us in the heart of town, but which some farmer took instead ).
I think of that this week as I am imbued once again with the hope of summer; and the reemergence of my belief that one should never lose the capacity to think that tomorrow may be the best day ever. Everyone has miserable yesterdays and todays, but tomorrow is as yet unknown. And for that, it is the most important day of the three. The existence of hope is a great thing; the dashing of it is something that we can handle, once we believe that a new hope grows again as soon as another is extinguished.
And this brings me back to our football team, the architects of our optimisim; the standard bearers of hope with whom we have an unbelievable relationship. We respect and adore them; they respond to our cravings in a way that is ephemeral. For us all, they are the raffle ticket which each week brings a surprise knock on the door with another outstanding performance.
We know the ups and downs this unbelievable group gives us every year; and not only every year, but in every game. Their ebb and flow in performances mirrors the patterns of our heartbeat. We live and sweat every ball with them. We see through their eyes as they take the pitch; we send an energy to them with our yearnings. One day this might all end for some players; but the relationship will never die because it is a sensation that is passing down to new younger players, who feel the want and like the feeling that this gives.
The promised land of the Super Eights has been reached now, and our team knows no shame, no disgrace, no fear of what may befall them. Over the last few weeks, they have brought us on many a journey; they have lit up Times Square; been up in Down; have given us jitters in Castlebar, and last weekend brought the most satisfying of them all, a win against the neighbours in perhaps the only game that mattered between the two over the past four years.
Now it’s Killarney, Croker, and MacHale Road before we know the next instalment. At least the sudden death element is gone, and maybe this can free our team and our emotions onto greater heights.
Thanks to all that group for sustaining us, for giving us a pep in our step. For being our raffle ticket.