Park football is more territorial than the Glasgow ice cream van business and most LA prisons. Once your pitch is secure, however, it pays to know the ‘rules’
1. Player Conduct
i) At least one player on either team must have psychopathic tendencies and will be wearing a home shirt from a mid-table Championship club, probably Bolton Wanderers.
ii) New players must be ignored, treated suspiciously and reluctantly passed to (unless they are good, in which case they must be ignored and treated suspiciously).
iii) Inverse laws: a) The player who shouts/moans the most, runs the least. b) The lower the skill levels, the more ferocious the mistimed tackle.
iv) A goalkeeper must relinquish his position for any team-mate who is vomiting from exhaustion.
2. Equipment and Attire
i) Any player wearing rolled-up jeans and squash trainers will not reappear the following week.
ii) No player wearing a) glasses or b) black socks and white trainers will contribute positively to your team’s performance.
iii) In the event of forgotten shorts, trousers are preferable to “double” pants.
iv) Vest tops – webbed durafit or traditional wife-beater – can only be carried off by the Brazil national squad.
vi) a) A call to play in “skins” will only come from a player who has been abroad within the last week.
i) If you want to win a challenge match, never approach teams that a) don’t have English for their first language b) have matching kit, or c) are younger than you.
ii) A pass delivered to a player sporting a pony-tail or Italian club or national shirt will never be returned.
iii) Each week, one player (from either side) must assume the role of “loose cannon”. This position incorporates such activities as: hitting the ball into the road more than three times, randomly handling the ball in the middle of the pitch, overreacting to innocuous tackles and answering his mobile phone during play.
i) To ensure a clear and legal goal is unjustly disallowed, two players plus the goalkeeper must vociferously shout “post” or “over” simultaneously.
ii) If one team is leading by five clear goals, the opposing side can choose to officially declare that “the teams are unfair”. In such a case, the player sacrificed and swapped will be strangely quiet in the pub.
iii) Narrowing the width of your goal is only permissible when no-one is watching.
iv) After 33 minutes of play, only two players are still keeping score.
5. The Playing Surface
i) No matter which way you are facing, you are always playing uphill.
i) Kit, including shin-pads, must be kept on AT ALL TIMES irrespective of wetness, odour or plummeting outdoor temperature.
ii) A lager top order is encouraged – but only for the first two rounds.
iii) Players can only leave once they have drunk enough beer and eaten enough bar snacks to outweigh any benefits gained from exercise.