Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 11

Chapter 11: Play on

It took Grubber’s dad only a few seconds to reach us, but it seemed like minutes, hours even.

‘I saw what happened,’ he said.

‘It’s been dealt with,’ said the ref. ‘Sprigs is going to be OK.’

Grubber’s dad shook his head. ‘That was just luck,’ he said. ‘It could have been much worse. I don’t want my boy to get hurt.’

‘Dad . . .’ said Grubber.

‘I’ve seen too many rugby injuries in my line of work,’ said Grubber’s dad. He looked at Grubber. ‘Why don’t you call it quits?’

It was hard to tell if Grubber was looking sick with shame, or sick with fear that his dad would actually force him out of the match. On the other side of the field the Reds were watching, wondering what was going on. They edged in closer to find out.

Mr Marlow arrived on the scene.

‘You’re holding up the game,’ said the ref to Grubber’s dad.

‘I hope you’ll let Grubber stay on,’ said Mr Marlow, calm as always. ‘We’re already a man down now.’

‘And how many more will get carted off before the game finishes?’ asked Grubber’s dad. ‘With rough players like them.’ He looked over at the Reds, who were only a few metres away from us now.

Before Mr Marlow could reply, Grubber spoke up.

‘I’m not going,’ he said. ‘I love rugby and I’m going to finish this game.’

‘Please Mr Foley,’ I added. ‘We can’t do without Grubber. Look at the way he got that first try for us. This game is way too important for us.’

Grubber’s dad looked at me, at Mr Marlow, at the ref, at the rest of the Green team.

‘It was a good try,’ he said, reluctantly. ‘I have to admit that. OK, I won’t interfere. Just take care, and play fair.’

He said that last bit loudly enough for the Reds to hear, before he walked back to the sideline. We all breathed great sighs of relief.

‘Penalty shot,’ said the ref.

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