A second half turnaround…?

No, I’m not about to talk about football, but how this year is progressing for me.

As you are all no doubt aware, my year has been difficult, with unlimited stress and dark moments. But….but…is it all about to change around?

Could be. All of a sudden, I’ve been invited to various mental health events and today was a case in point. I attended one such meeting and felt at ease again, networking and connecting. To top it all, I bumped into an old school acquaintance who I haven’t seen for a few years. It was good to see him and hopefully we can reconnect. It’s been too long a gap between conversations.

I feel slightly different since returning from holiday. I don’t feel as anxious or weighed down with stuff. I’m sleeping better and I’m now looking forward to these upcoming events with some relish. A chance to rediscover some missing goodness and pleasure in life.

So, I hope this is the start of a good spell. I do have them, though this one and the previous one have been at a long interval. Time to fight back and show myself that I can enjoy life once again. A bit of positivity! It’s a while since I’ve been able to utter or write that phrase.

Connecting and networking – let’s go!

A.S.D Brooks

The unfairness of life…..

Were it ever thus. The above picture is of Justin Edinburgh, former professional footballer and manager of my local team, Leyton Orient.

Justin was taken to hospital last Monday, having suffered a cardiac arrest. Tragically, he never recovered and passed away today, aged 49.

What must his poor family be thinking right now? Just the unfairness and the injustice of a man in the prime of his life, having just guided Leyton Orient back into the Football League after a two year absence, being cruelly taken away from us all.

Justin Edinburgh was held in very high regard as a player for Tottenham and was highly respected for managing teams further down the football pyramid. He did so in a quiet and efficient way, but with his players fighting for him every week and enjoying his methodology in getting results. He never looked for excuses if his team lost, he was very candid about putting it right next time and Leyton Orient went from the depths to untold riches in May when they gained promotion back to the Football League.

I’ve suffered a loss of someone very close to me this year and the pain of Edinburgh’s passing will take a long time to heal too. They say only the good die young, but one thing I will say, is that when you wake up every day, enjoy every moment you are here. When you hear this tragic news today, you should be thankful to enjoy those precious moments.

My deepest condolences go out to Leyton Orient and Justin Edinburgh’s family. His lasting legacy was success. A top man, a top manager and top player. The fans and players at Leyton Orient will never forget him and he departs the stage, rightly and properly, as a winner in all respects.

RIP Justin Edinburgh, aged 49.

A.S.D Brooks

I hope you were watching…..

This is my brother in law who sadly passed on two months ago. He was massively into his football, having played the game at a fair level and then became a manager. His love for the game was undiluted and absolute.

I went round to my sister’s the other day. Normally, my brother in law would be sitting on the sofa, watching Sky Sports on the TV and I would be talking to him about Tottenham, the team he’s always supported. We would discuss football, occasionally have a difference of opinion but the conversation was always healthy and fun.

So when I went round the house the other day, he wasn’t there of course, and I found it odd that I wasn’t discussing football and watching it on the TV.

Last night, his beloved Tottenham played Ajax of Amsterdam in the Champions League Semi Final second leg. Tottenham had to overturn a three goal deficit midway through the match. All of a sudden, one goal back, then two and then the winner (on aggregate) in the last minute. Incredible scenes in Amsterdam.

My brother in law would have been in his luxury room in heaven, drinking a couple of beers and cheering Tottenham on to victory. It’s a real tragedy that he wasn’t here to see his team’s finest hour. But his spirit lives on in us, as I’m sure it always will do. A poignant moment that has popped into my mind from last night. I’m sure he will be very proud of his team, and of his family and friends. We’re all proud of him and the good man he was.

A.S.D Brooks

Football conversation….things I shall miss about my brother in law….

My late brother in law was into his sport, especially football. The team he supported was Tottenham Hotspur. He was a manager and former player at more modest non-league level as well, and had an intimate knowledge of the game.

I always enjoyed conversations about football with him. One of my last conversations with him was over a disputed penalty decision in a televised match between Watford and Chelsea. It was clear that he didn’t like Chelsea very much (!) and the incident saw us disagree over this decision. I agreed with the referee’s decision and my brother in law didn’t. But it never got beyond mild disagreement. I saw the incident from an official’s viewpoint (as I would!) and he saw it from a player’s view.

But I enjoyed those conversations, talking about the form of Tottenham, the exciting players they have and the performance of the manager.

Tottenham have moved into a new ground and the move was somewhat delayed due to health and safety concerns. My brother in law was due to watch a game in the new stadium. Sadly, that never came to pass. And I shall miss our football chats, amongst other things. He was passionate about his sport as I am. I couldn’t convert him over to cricket, but each to his own.

Thinking about those good times….how you should remember someone close to you who has sadly passed away. His spirit will live on in us all I think, and in a good way.

A.S.D Brooks

Into the freezer….time for that warm coat

Clocks go back tomorrow here in the UK and just to prepare us for those winter blues, the weather has turned very cold. It’s gloriously sunny and clear but the wind has turned round to the North, never a warm direction in the UK.

Time to dig out those winter clothes. I’ve been wearing thin jackets and t shirts for the last few weeks since my return from holiday, but out came the big coat and indoors, the central heating makes it’s first appearance since we had the Beast from the East back in March. Hibernation begins. We pile on the weight and hunker down for those long, cold months until March and April come round.

Don’t feel too bad today. I’ve popped out for a brief while, bumped into someone I know from cricket, and the grimness of Wednesday is but a distant memory. Upward curve and all that.

Nice relaxing day today watching sport on the TV and keeping warm. Perfect.

A.S.D Brooks

Childhood memories….

This place was frequently visited by me back in the 1980s as the school I went to, Rushcroft, is only next door. Many a cold winter’s day saw Allen Brooks running around slowly and aimlessly, sighing nostalgically for the next English or Maths lesson. Never been the most athletic of people!

I went to this sports ground yesterday to watch a friend of mine play football. It was an exciting game too. To prove it’s a small world, the opposition goalkeeper is someone I know from cricket circles.

It was a game of typical weekend amateur football. Frequent arguments with each other, arguments with the referee and plenty of contesting of decisions. Watching the poor referee struggling to control 22 players made me think that I made the right decision to stick to cricket. Though we have our problems in cricket, it does have some traditions that are adhered to. It was quite amusing to see grown men getting worked up over not much at all. But it all added up to an exciting match.

Anyway, back to those childhood memories. I umpired one of my first matches at the venue over 30 years ago. I ran the 1,500 metres there once. I finished so late, the milkman was doing his round the following morning! I also remember sneaking across the ground to take a short cut home only to be stopped by the irate groundsman who threatened to report me to the headteacher. I quickly turned tail and took the longer way home…..

And boy it was warm yesterday. Unusually so for mid October. Today, it’s back to normal. Wet and cold. I’m staying in today, catching up on some admin. That’s what Sundays were made for.

It’s been ten days full of memories. Great to store in the mind when things aren’t so great personally. Keeps me going through those dark, cold winter months.

A.S.D Brooks

Listen to your body as well as the mind….

At Peer Support group the other day, we talked about listening to what your body tells you about pain and not wanting to make that pain worse.

Today I’m putting that into practice. Earlier in the week, I was looking forward to going out today, to travel to a football match and watch. Waking up this morning however, saw a completely different mindset.

I slept a long time, but it seems not a very good quality sleep. I feel quite tired and washed out. No enthusiasm for doing anything today. No get up and go, and though sometimes I do push myself to do things when not 100%, that is not possible today, not at all.

The TV will be on, and I’m just going to lay on the sofa and keep an eye on the sport going on up and down the country. So I’ve listened to what my body is telling me. Washed out, so stay in. Going out will make it worse. No gym today either, that’s totally out of the question.

A.S.D Brooks

Enjoyable viewing…

Last night I was here:-

watching a qualifying round match in this year’s FA Cup, the oldest and best knockout sporting competition in the world.

Why did I go? Because a cricketing acquaintance was playing in goal for Coggeshall. He is a former professional player who made it into the Scotland U21 squad, so he’s played at a decent level. He gave up playing professionally to concentrate on the world of work, so this is a good opportunity to keep fit and to enjoy the game too.

The game itself was a typically rumbustious, tense affair, liberally sprinkled with three goals, a sending off and the afore mentioned goalkeeper coming under heavy pressure at the end of the match. But his team, Coggeshall, held on by 2 goals to 1 to progress to the next round.

What else can I tell you about Coggeshall? They are part owned by pop star Olly Murs and his efforts and money have seen the team progress up the football pyramid.

It was an excellent evening out. Good atmosphere at the game, but the weather turned and the journey back was cold and rather wet. But it was nice to go out and do something a bit different and to see a chap doing well. I’ve umpired him at cricket but never saw him keep goal until yesterday. I wish I had that ability to play sport, I wouldn’t be 18 stone plus and a hell of a lot fitter. But that’s life.

A.S.D Brooks

This is perfect….

This is the life. I’m in Hertfordshire, with the intention of watching a game of football later which involves a cricketing acquaintance of mine. It’s the FA Cup too, the world’s oldest and best knockout sporting competition.

I’ve found myself a delightfully refined pub, vodka and tonic at the ready, with dinner about to be served. It’s quiet in here and there’s just some gentle background music. It feels as though I’m up in heaven again. Perfect way to unwind, and only 30 minutes from London.

Getting my agenda back on track after a few bad weeks. Could things be about to turn around once again? Too early to say, but this is a good day so far.

A.S.D Brooks

Normality returns…

Football fever is over, for the time being. With England’s elimination, the public can go back to living their daily lives with a sense of normality again. It was an exciting few weeks and it’s not until 2020 when we may experience those highs again.Today has been fairly quiet for me. No cricket involvement for me today, though I have picked up an umpiring appointment in 10 days time, just for a bloke I know who plays for a local club. It’ll be game on a par with the other day, a relaxed affair with plenty of laughs and beers afterwards. Delighted to be asked to participate. It was Peer Support day and it was a quiet day at the ranch today as all the staff had gone on a business awayday. We were left to our own devices and ran the group as we normally do. We broke from the normal routine to do some learning and educating about what triggers our mental illnesses and what damage that can cause to our physical health. A very good session.A few of us then adjourned to the pub to have some lunch and relax. Just a quietish day after being at cricket the last three days. It’s about getting that balance and keeping all the things I enjoy at an equidistant range. If I did just one activity for the whole seven days, I would go stir crazy. Weather today? Nice and comfortable. We’ve lost that oppressive heat and humidity which saps us of our energy. Warm but pleasant. A.S.D Brooks