A Footy Fest Diary

I hadn’t slept the night before. I had to wake up at 6am to watch Ireland in the Rugby World Cup Quarter Final v New Zealand (The All Blacks). In the end I didn’t really sleep at all. I tend not to sleep very well when I know I need to get up so early. I’m too worried about not waking up. Suffice to say game was an unmitigated disaster for Ireland and I would have done well to sleep right through it.

I took a hastily arranged car ride to Footy Fest with the kid, Adin. Adin was quite a character and together we made for an unlikely buddy cop movie duo on the way to the fest. I thought Adin was a NYC Footy regular initially, but it turned out it was his first time taking part. I was excited on his behalf to see the Footy Fest set up.

Before we hit the road proper we stopped into a gas station. He grabbed two meat pies, and a bunch of the most random confectionery - Ferro Rocher as a pre footy snack… nice.

On the ride we got acquainted by talking about everything and anything - break-ups and music tastes. Nothing was off limits. We had philosophical conversations about kids and tattoos while I bored Adin with my love of U2, and gave him a crash course in the best of Irish music - Van Morrison, The Boomtown Rats, The Waterboys and Thin Lizzy.

I am not the best passenger in a car ride. I am a nervous passenger. And I am not immune to car sickness. This kicked in particularly during the last 30 minutes of the ride to the fields in the Catskills. Those windy country roads do nothing for my stomach - not helped by the meat pie I decided to join in on.

By the time we arrived, I pretty much fell out of the car - gasping for air and trying to gather myself.

I confess we arrived so late that we had missed our first two games. Nevertheless I couldn’t wait to have a game. The weather was particularly glorious in the Catskills. I was half expecting an icy chill and a mud field this time of year, but in truth I could have done with bringing some Factor 50 rather than a wooly hat.

I was put on team, Pre Malone. The Green Team - rather appropriate for the Irishman. I love the shirts that NYC Footy give the teams. The designs are always great.

As excited as I was about playing - my first game was an utter disaster. We lost what felt like 9-0. We were all quite frustrated with each other by the end of the game. I made the decision then, that in the next game I was going to be diligent to the task of defending and maintaining some kind of team shape. I always feel when a game goes badly, it’s important to focus on the basics of your own game - stay in a good useful position, and make sure to give passes to feet. I think I did that pretty well… but we still got hammered in our last run out.

Shaking off the blues of our team performances I dived into the pizzas that were on offer. I also had a couple of Red Bulls. Usually, I would be very against such an energy drink, but as I was working on about 30 hours without sleep I needed a good kick up the arse - especially as my main task was to make the weekly NYC Footy video.

When I make my videos, I like interacting with people and bringing out some level of colour and humor. But sometimes you need to dig deep to find the right energy to do that. I am actually shy at heart, so going up and talking to random people you barely know requires you clicking into somewhat of an alter ego. Red Bull helped in this case.

My main strategy when making a video is to circle the fields and try to find interesting moments and shots. I like to come up with a certain theme of questioning for the people as well. It amazes me how often I have no clue what I will ask them, and then out of nowhere something pops up in my head to save the day. For the day’s video, I thought simply I would ask people what was on their mind. That worked well to get me going as I got a few wacky answers.

The great thing about NYC Footy and the Footy Fest is seeing the regular faces. Everybody seemed in great spirits overall. Tarek and Gerardo (two of NYC Footy’s founders) were well on top of proceedings. I was only thinking last night how those guys need a medal. As a former founder myself, I understand what it’s like to be taken for granted despite the huge amount of work and stress that goes on behind the scenes to make an operation go off well. The guys do a stellar job. I salute them.

The footy moment of the day for me was during one of the semis, the game was tied 0-0 going into the last two minutes. Then one team (the New York K(n)icks - the ‘n’ is silent), went on top, only to give away two goals in the subsequent 60 seconds to lost the game 2-1. It was the most glorious of comebacks and I am happy I caught it on camera.

From the Footy Fest we headed to the bar. I was under-dressed for the evening - Still in the footy gear I had wore all day. An icy chill have finally arrived. Meanwhile some had been able to squeeze in a shower and get changed allowing them to show up looking sparkling. It’s amazing how people can look totally different when spruced up, as opposed to when they are wearing their functional footy gear. Mind you, shout out to the girl who wore the fashionable woolly Nike leggings.

Sadly, I had to get back to Manhattan that evening as I had a video shoot the very next morning. I hitched a ride with Danny Ospina - the photographer for the day. I didn’t know Danny at all but we had great chats on the way back that made the 3 hour drive go by in no time.

By about 11 I was back in bed for some much needed sleep. It had been a while. But it was a great day. Looking forward to the next NYC Footy Fest outing already.