Bill Nagelkerke is a fantastic local author and one of our previous Star Authors on the blog. Bill has written some great books, including Old Bones and Sitting on the Fence, which are set in Christchurch. As well as being a writer, Bill has also translated books, reviewed books for magazines and newspapers, been a judge for book awards, and he used to be a Children’s Librarian at Christchurch City Libraries.
Bill has very kindly given us permission to publish his rugby story, Cauliflower Ears, right here on the blog. We’ll post a new chapter every second day over the next four weeks so you’ll need to keep checking the blog to follow the story. A huge thank you to Bill Nagelkerke for sharing this wonderful story with us!
Chapter 1: Getting ready for the big game
All over town members of the Green Team, sometimes called the Cauliflower Ears, were getting ready to play their final game of the season.
At Number 13 Lucky Street I was eating breakfast, wondering if Mum was going to make it back from Wellington in time for the kick-off.
At Number 54 Hoani Street, Sprigs was inspecting his boots, holding them up by their lucky laces.
At Number 217 Templeton Drive Grubber was wondering if he was going to be able to get his dad to wake up in time to take him to the big game. And also wondering if he would manage to get his dad to stay and watch for once.
My name, by the way, is Wings. You’ll have guessed that Wings, Sprigs and Grubber are our rugby nicknames, not our real names.
It was Saturday. The Saturday, the day of the big game, the Grand Final of the Junior Home World Cup series. The game in which we, the Green Team, were playing our arch rivals, the Reds, sometimes known as . . . the Devils.
‘It’s just a game,’ my dad said as I wolfed down a great plate of porridge.
‘You don’t understand,’ I said. ‘It’s not just any game, it’s the game. It’s the Grand Final. In more ways than one,’ I reminded him.
You see, Mum had got an important new job in the capital, in fact she was already working there a few days each week, and we would soon be moving cities. This was going to be my last game with the Greens. Ever.
‘I know it’s important . . .’ began Dad, but I didn’t give him a chance to finish.
‘This is the one game we have to win,’ I said.
‘Well, just remember this,’ said Dad as he tidied the breakfast things away. ‘You’ve always given it your best shot, one hundred percent plus. No one can do more than that.’ He looked at me. ‘And don’t they say that the most important thing isn’t winning or losing, it’s how you play the game?’
‘Huh,’ I said. ‘Not when it comes to the Grand Final of the Junior Home World Cup. No way.’