Duncan Browne says so long to Boston United’s departing defensive talisman Carl Piergianni...
There are only three certainties in life - death, taxes and Carl Piergainni spilling blood in a play-off semi-final.
Last season’s penalty shootout defeat to Chorley saw the centre back’s head bandaged after a fierce battle with monstrous target man James Dean.
This year he found himself up against an even bigger threat in the shape of North Ferriby’s Tom Denton, the two rekindling those aggressive wars of attrition two final times.
After Denton’s flailing arm had earlier cut Piergiani’s eye, the defender’s first-leg contribution finished early following a clash of heads with teammate Scott Garner - a smash which saw Piergianni’s nose broken and a cut on Garner’s head glued back up at 5am in A&E.
The ‘lucky’ Piergianni left hospital closer to 3am, albeit still in his kit and needing to return the following day.
But both were back in the starting line-up for Sunday’s second leg, Piergianni’s nose bleeding again soon after he had tossed aside his protective mask.
‘It isn’t me’ he claimed as if he was trying on a questionable shirt rather than weighing up the pros and cons of a loose elbow smashing into a recently-broken bone.
Although the result didn’t go Boston’s way, that refusal to give up, that desire to play through the pain barrier summed up exactly what Piergianni and Garner have stood for these past three years.
But following the full time whistle, after the frustration of another sudden jolted end to a promising campaign, the realisation crept in that Piergianni had probably cut himself open in a Pilgrims shirt for the final time.
The defender’s contract is up and, perhaps accepting that a life in the pro game isn’t coming, he’s off travelling, taking his backpack to Thailand before looking at opportunities of a new life in Australia.
The loss of such a key player is hard to take for many United fans.
Those who idolise the defender stand on the terraces and argue that if they had half his talent they wouldn’t throw it away - not even for a life of blue skies, green oceans, white beaches and eyebrow-raising nightclub shows.
But such is the life of the semi-pro footballer.
We observers see match day, the glory and sniff up the addiction of victory.
We don’t see those players having to return to the drudgery of their 9-5 day jobs. We don’t undertake the twice-weekly two-hour car drive to training.
And we don’t miss out on the social lives these men in their early 20s have to shun due to long bus journeys to former colliery towns.
And no matter how much we’d love to hear the fans chant our name, stab home a winning goal or collect a pleasant-enough second income, we don’t sit at Piergianni’s desk for 40 hours a week yearning for adventure on the other side of the globe.
If he wants to see the world rather than the north of England then why not.
He’s not the only person who’d rather share a shower with a skink or a gecko rather than 15 other sweaty and muddy blokes.
Cutting yourself on a coral reef or an opponent’s elbow?
A no-brainer surely?
Piergianni has been Boston’s best player over the past three seasons and he will leave a huge void.
But he also goes proud in the knowledge he gave everything he could to the club.
I’m sure he leaves with everyone’s best wishes.
But were his swollen nose to make him look a bit too diferent to the bloke on his passport photo and he fails to make his flight next Monday, I’d be willing to bet he’d be welcome back at Boston United in an instant.
Carl, there will be penty of bandages waiting.