30 seconds of ecstasy

Price of buying the English Premier League? North of one billion sterling and a fustian pact with a strengthened autocracy.

The European Champions’ League? Around $2.8Bn and shelter for a dodgy oligarch.

Witnessing the end of a decades long wait to see Ballymena’s Saturday morning league Division One Championship head north? Priceless… er, hospitalization actually.

Sporting clichés about ‘laying it on the line’ may be overused but one elated Ballymena-based Division One coach took it to a whole new literal level this weekend past. (A speedy recovery is wished by all.)

Talk about your millionaires winning your billionaires’ trophies all day but the truly local captures the very definition of sporting pressure.

The scene: Seconds of injury time remain, you’re level 1-1 with an opposition who need but a point to win the championship when the ball falls to you on the edge of their box. Your next action – either way – will be the talking point among friends and neighbours who have been waiting for a championship win since long before you were kicking anything.

You’ve one chance. Your community is looking on – how would you do?

Anyone doubting whether local bonds of clan and community are stronger than the conceptual bonds of nation (never mind European level something-or-other), ought to submit evidence of drama, passion and commitment that can top this.

From the perspective of the ex-pat, while a country can transform to the point of almost disappearing, the permanence of one’s community remains assured.

P.S. Congrats to All Saints Old Boys and good luck with the double!