Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 13

Chapter 13: Swan song?

I put the kicking tee into place and set up the ball. I looked from the ball to the goal posts and back to the ball. It seemed an easy shot. At least for Sprigs it might have been an easy shot. But for me it was another story altogether.

Boy, was I nervous. I was so nervous, I was sweating. I heard Mr Marlow’s voice in my head. ‘Attitude’s everything. If you think you can do it, you can. Steady. Focus. Imagine the ball flying high. Imagine putting the ball right where you want it to be.’

I tried my best to follow Mr Marlow’s advice but my kicking foot felt stiff and tight in my boot.

Even if I got this one, I realised, we’d still be behind by two points.

I started my run.

I stopped.

Deep breath.

I started again.

I stopped.

Another deep breath.

While the Greens stood silent and anxious around me, the Reds whistled and booed and laughed until the ref had to blow his whistle. ‘Keep quiet,’ he said.

Spike spat on the ground.

I couldn’t do it.

I had to do it.

One last run up.

Kick, and the ball flies.

It goes high. The Greens almost stop breathing and so do I. And the ball goes just wide of the post!

So close. But being so close means nothing. I missed it. I missed what would have been an easy shot for old Sprigs. I can’t believe it, but I have to. I missed.

On the sideline the Red Brigade cheers. The Greenies, on the other hand, look as if they’re going to cry into their scarves.

Suddenly I get the very bad, very deep-sinking feeling that I’ve lost the Greens the Grand Final, and that maybe Spike was half right. The Greens aren’t the losers, I am.

What a swan song. What a way to go out!

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