Our Captain, Conrad
My first memory of Conrad was that he was the scoring demon for a team of young guys that we developed quite a rivalry with. One night in the old indoor soccer facility I chased him and the ball into the corner, he pulled the ball out and tried to get away from me. I met him at each turn and I finally forced him into an outside position and I said “Shoot from there you A** Hole”. He did and my next comment was “Nice goal”.
He was friends with a player on our team so next season we convinced him to sign with the Roadrunners. We converted him to defense, a correct decision that he never forgave us for.
Eventually he became our captain. It is extremely difficult to be a person on an un-coached team that everyone will look to for direction. Conrad had all the attributes a captain needs. For starters he didn’t want the job, and he led by example, not speeches. If we needed a goal to win he would go score it. If we needed a big tackle to win he would do it. He chose his words carefully and we all trusted him.
An example, one night we were playing a yappy young team at Leibel Field and a kid got in my head. He insulted everyone on our team and in a fit of stupid anger I took him down, getting a yellow card in the process. A rare occurrence for me. In the pub after the game I was explaining to everyone why I did what I did and Conrad said “I missed all that, I was playing the game”. MESSAGE RECEIVED. I have never done anything like that again. That is a leader.
Because I am a better drinker than I am a soccer player my favourite part of the night is always the post-game trip to the pub. It was at O’Hanlons that I really enjoyed Conrad’s company. Well-read and opinionated, a great listener, I truly enjoyed our conversations about music, movies, politics, golf, soccer and the never ending saga of the people in his building that kept stealing his cats. And of course there was the road trip to Weyburn, one of my favourite nights ever.
I thought it would go on forever but it didn’t. A couple of years ago the team made some decisions that Conrad had a serious disagreement with. The next season he quietly disappeared and now plays for another team in our division. Last summer I actually had to mark him for a whole game. I hated every single minute of that game.
So now I limp my broken old body to the pub after the games and I silently tip my glass to the empty chair at the table that should be Conrad. MESSAGE RECEIVED Conrad, message received.