Ah, there’s no father and son bonding experience quite like sticking on your football boots and taking your boy down to the park to blow a whistle at kids and order them to retreat 10 yards.
It’s up there with that excitement you felt as a child when Adidas released that season’s referee kit. Available in any colour, as long as it’s black.
“Ooh, I hope it comes with red and yellow cards,” we used to shout, our faces pressed up against the window of Refs-R-Us.
I am, of course, joking. Your son revealing he wants to be a referee is probably one notch below expressing a desire to be a traffic warden or estate agent.
There’s little love for the men in black, which is why I nearly choked on my tea when my wife tasked me with finding a referee course for our eldest son Bradley, 14.
She wants him to earn some extra pocket money by officiating at junior football games.
It’s a real “watch this space” development, though I fear for his sanity.
But then, as a Newcastle United supporter, he is used to footballing pain and disappointment. This weekend’s sixth-in-a-row derby defeat against Sunderland only serving to compound his misery.
It is, though, manna from heaven for our team of headline writers.
Readers may be interested to know that we have the puns lined up for all the derby games to come. We had ‘Threesy Does It’ when Sunderland completed the derby hat-trick and this was followed by ‘Fantastic Four’ after the quadruple.
The fifth-in-a-row win was celebrated with a ‘Jermain De-Five’ headline, and the weekend threw up, among others, ‘Joy of Six’ and ‘Six of the Best.’
The headlines will continue as long as this run of victories continues. And we’ve got them stored in the headline bank.
So far there’s: ‘Seventh Heaven’, ‘Eighth Wonder’, ‘Cloud Nine,’ and ‘Ten out of Ten.’
After 10, however, we start to struggle. There’s a need for Sunderland to sign a player with the surname Ocean, so we can use ‘Ocean’s 11’ for the 11 in a row, to be followed by a particularly physical derby victory which can be headlined ‘Dirty Dozen.’
‘Lucky 13’ will be the last of the obvious headlines.
By the time we reach the 14th derby victory for Sunderland, there will be no need of headlines because it will no longer be classed as news.
Just as we don’t report that the sun has risen in the morning, so we will no longer report that Sunderland have won a derby. It will be the norm.
Instead, the headline will fall into the format adopted by the record company that produces the Now That’s What I Call Music CDs.
We’ll have the headline ‘Now That’s What I Call Another Sunderland Victory Over Newcastle 14’ followed by ‘Now 15’, ‘Now 16’, and so on…
Something for me and Bradley to ponder as we grab our whistles and nip down to the playpark in our new referee kits to send off a few kids.