College football inspires a unique level of commitment among players. Obviously, you’re not going to let anything stop you playing, but nor are you necessarily going to miss a night out because you have a match the next day. This particular recipe of priorities sometimes makes for a somewhat stomach-churning concoction – the hungover game.
No matter what you might think, eventually it creeps up on you, and when it does, you just have to face it. 2pm kick-off, you say to yourself as you crack open that first cold oneat pre’s, plenty of time to have a lie in and wake yourself up after a night at Bridge/Park End/miscellaneous other venue. If Paul Gascoigne could do it before Euro ’96, why can’t you
Because you aren’t Gazza, you realise as you awake the next morning, just in time to see it turn into afternoon. You might have all of his charm and grace on the pitch, but it won’t count for anything if your beleaguered legs can’t even carry you to the ground.
The thought of bailing on the game crosses your mind, but is soon shattered as the college crest on your shirt catches your eye, its radiance engulfing your bleary-eyed vision. Of course, you could never turn your back on the team. When destiny calls, college footballers answer, their voices echoing through darkness and adversity. Also, it’s your job to bring the kit this week, and you’d never hear the end of it from your teammates.
So, how best to deal with the situation? Drinking copious amounts of water before setting off is a must. Not only does rehydration reduce the effects of the hangover, it’s a well-known fact that players perform better when on edge, and nothing puts you more on edge than slightly needing a wee during the game.
However, that could be the least of your bodily concerns, as you become increasingly aware of last night’s Hassan’s impeding your pace and movement. There are two potential solutions to this problem, the first being to keep pace and movement to a minimum. Dictate the play from deep and use your natural vision and ability to read the game to become the pivot on which the team moves, à la Andrea Pirlo.
Alternatively, those of a more box-to-box persuasion may have to indulge in a discreet tactical chunder in the toilets before kick-off. This was a strategy perfected by the Leicester City team of 2015-16, whose boundless energy on empty stomachs carried them to the Premier League title against all odds.
Jamie Vardy may have been having a party, but he always managed to recover in time for the next game. Hectic fixture schedules mean that college footballers often go without the luxury of time, so the path through hangover hell is a well-trodden one. With that in mind, players can take comfort in the fact that, when they face their next hungover game, at least they’re in good company.