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  • Writer's pictureIan Hyde-Lay

Love the Game

It is Remembrance Day. It is the very early morning, and I stand at the bedroom window. There has been rain overnight. But almost in defiance, a pale Borders sun shines weakly through the chill.

Down below, the town of Galashiels sleeps. The A7, the connecting road to Edinburgh, is silent. Rows of battered, brick houses, steam rising from grey, slate roofs, surround the old textile mill. The church steeple intersects the hills behind and the last of the late autumn colors, yellow, burnt orange and red.

In the foreground, the trees, shorn of their leaves, shiver and glisten.

Somewhere in the quiet, a sole piper begins to play. Slowly, haltingly, the strains of Highland Cathedral lift toward me. With them come a kaleidoscope of memories.

From these memories have come stories. From seemingly unconnected thoughts on too many jet lagged nights in distant lands. From too many hours on endless international flights. From long walks and longer bike rides, from diaries and match programs and from notes scribbled on scraps of paper. From articles hurriedly torn out of magazines or newspapers.

Usually, what seemed full, even vibrant, sometimes funny, was an hour later forgotten or depressingly incomplete. Yet ideas, often vague, maybe only a single word or phrase, would in turn trigger other reflections.

Occasionally, what emerged would surprise me. If the words made me smile, or pricked my conscience, I let them stay. Sport, whether I have been playing, refereeing, coaching, or even just watching, is the backdrop. Yet, if anything, the central themes are simply people, places and lessons learned.

The people are from all walks of life, from Tokyo to Tbilisi, Argentina to Apia, and many points in between.

I hope, like me, they know that to take part is good, to win is better, but to love the game is the best.


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