Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 12

Chapter 12: Loser

We, the Greens, looked at each other. We’d almost forgotten the foul tackle. Who was going to take the penalty? Sprigs was our star goal kicker but he’d been carted off the field.

‘You give it a go Wings,’ said Chip.

‘Me!’ I cried. ‘Why me?’

‘We all know that none of us are a patch on Sprigs,’ said Chip, ‘but at least you’re fast and accurate, and good with your feet. That’s what Mr Marlow always says.’

‘That’s when I’m running! I’m a winger.’

‘Well, don’t start sounding like a whinger,’ said Chip impatiently. ‘Greens can be anything they want to be, that’s a key part of our game plan, remember?’

I remembered. I also remembered Dad praising me this morning for always giving my best. One hundred precent plus,’ he’d said.

‘Just give it your best shot,’ said Chip, as if he’d read my mind.

Everyone looked at me. Hopeful. Expectant. They didn’t want me to let them down.

‘All right,’ I said. ‘I’ll try.’

‘Good one,’ said Chip, and they all punched me on the arm for luck. Ouch!

There was another commotion from the sideline.

‘What now?’ said the ref.

A hand waving, holding something that looked like a piece of string. It was Sprigs.

‘What’s that boy want?’ said the ref.

‘Just get on with the game,’ said Spike.

‘Go check it out,’ the ref told Chip.

Chip ran over to the bench and came back a few seconds later with a piece of one of Sprigs’ shoelaces in his hands.

‘He had it stuffed inside his sock,’ said Chip, shaking his head.

‘It must be Sprig’s lucky lace, the one that broke,’ said Grubber.

‘What am I supposed to do with it?’ I asked.

‘Stuff it into your sock,’ said Chips. ‘Sprigs wants you to have it, for luck he said.’

‘Luck,’ I thought to myself. ‘I’ll need more than that. I’ll need a miracle.’ But I took the grubby lace and put it inside my sock.

‘Thanks,’ I called out to Sprigs.

‘What a bunch of losers,’ I heard Spike mutter.

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