The Own Goal column is a place for fullbacks, I rarely take the time to discuss forwards, other than to point out their obvious faults. But today I find a hole in my heart because my young friend Spartak has left the team, and I feel a need to talk about it.
The Spartak saga started two years ago when a friend from the Open Door Society called to say she knew a young refugee who wanted to play soccer. It started off rocky, he was in trouble with the police, at school and quickly he got into card trouble on the playing field. On top of that his cockiness bothered his line mates. He didn't pass enough and he was always losing his temper. That put him in pretty good company from what I could see.
Over time he became a friend of many of us. I have no doubt he would do anything for the Roadrunners. He actually ended up at the Police station for fighting with another coach that said we sucked. He played an entire season in net when he didn't want to, we almost did the impossible and broke his spirit that summer. What used to bug me was that, while he certainly had faults, he was punished more than he should have been. Once he got into a shoving match with a middle-aged man that had a good enough life to be a better person. He told Spartak he was going to kill him because he was a F'in puke. The referees report said the incident was all Spartak's fault. That was wrong.
Spartak, around the Roadrunners, did his best to be a mature, responsible friend. His life was filled with problems we can't imagine. It is a lot to expect any 17 year old to fit in with middle-aged men but he did. He was working on controlling his temper and was doing much better.
Spartak's story has many chapter, I hope that this is not the last one for us. I will wait as long as I can in the dressing room hoping he will show up. For his sake, I hope he brings his two strips or Niall will kill him.