Posts tagged sport

Love the Olympics? Try these sporty reads

If you’re a sporty person you’re probably in heaven right now with all the Olympic Games coverage on TV.  There are heaps of different types of sport to watch, from swimming and rowing, to gymnastics and athletics. 

We have heaps of sporty books in the library for you to enjoy.  Why not try these:

We also have a great page all about the Olympics, where you can find out about Canterbury Olympic Athletes and visit some interesting websites with information about the Olympic Games.

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 10

Chapter 10: Injury

‘It was a fair throw!’ I said, wondering what had happened.

The ref nodded. ‘Agreed,’ he said. ‘But a foul tackle.’

At first I didn’t know what he meant, so I looked to where he was pointing. Poor Sprigs lay on the ground, one leg twisted under him.

Taggart stood beside him, grinning, but sly and dangerous looking as well.

‘Legal tackle,’ he said.

The ref shook his head. ‘The ball had left Sprigs’ hands,’ he said.

‘Hadn’t,’ said Taggart.

‘Had too,’ hissed Sprigs from below.

‘You OK?’ I asked him.

‘Just twisted my ankle I reckon,’ said Sprigs.

The medics helped Sprigs off the field.

‘I’ll be OK,’ Sprigs said. ‘Good thing it’s not you being carted off,’ he told Grubber. ‘Your old man would’ve had a fit.’

Grubber looked anxiously towards the sidelines. ‘What’re we going to do now? We’re a man down.’

Sprigs glared at Taggart. ‘I’ll be back,’ he said.

‘Not likely,’ said Taggart.

Taggart was still grinning, but not for long.

‘Sin bin,’ the ref said to him.

‘Wha . . .’

‘Don’t argue. I’ll talk to you later.’

‘Not fair,’ said Taggart.

But, even so, he couldn’t stop smirking. He knew what he’d done. He’d taken out our best kicker.

‘Oh no,’ said Grubber suddenly.

‘What?’ I asked.

‘Look,’ said Grubber.

I looked. We all did. Striding towards us was Grubber’s dad.

‘He’s going to tell me to get off the field,’ said Grubber. ‘I just know he is.’

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Wings

‘Did you see how he tackled Danny?’ I asked Sprigs. ‘The ref should’ve spotted that, he was right there. If I’d been the ref I would’ve done something about it.’

‘It was legit,’ said Sprigs.


‘But legit.’

And I knew he was right.

Things improved a little after that bad beginning. Grubber scored a try and Sprigs’ place kick converted it sweetly between the posts.

Seven – seven.

‘At least my leftover lace is still working its magic,’ said Sprigs. If he could have bent down far enough to kiss that lace I’m sure he would have.

‘The try will help keep my dad awake and on his toes,’ said Grubber, sounding really pleased.

‘You did good to get him to stay and watch for a change,’ said Sprigs.

Grubber’s dad was a nurse at the hospital. He worked in Accident and Emergency. Grubber’s dad didn’t like rugby much, because he thought Grubber was going to get injured one day, but Grubber loved the game so much that his dad just had to let him play.

‘I told him this morning that I’d never talk to him again if he missed seeing us win the Junior Home World Cup,’ Grubber said.

‘You didn’t mean it, did you?’ I said.

Grubber didn’t answer me.

I was happy that Sprigs had converted Grubber’s try. Me, I’m not a kicker.

And I was really, really stoked that Grubber had scored that try.

But I couldn’t help wishing that it’d been me. I’m a winger, you see. That’s why my nickname is Wings. When I’m running I feel as if I’ve sprouted two massive feathery things that fly me all over the field.

I desperately wanted a chance to use my wings before the final whistle blew.

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 7

Chapter 7: Kick-off

We were playing into the wind for the first half, which was good. It meant that the second half, when we’d be more tired, would be easier for us.

Spike Maynard, the captain of the Reds, stared over at our captain, Chip Butterfield.

‘Got the collywobbles?’ he asked.

Chip stared blankly at him.

‘Don’t you get it?’ said Spike. ‘Colly as in cauliflower.’ He turned to the Reds. ‘Not only thick ears but thick between the ears as well.’

Some of the other Reds laughed maliciously.

‘We’re going to flatten you lot,’ said Spike. He turned to look at me. ‘And you’d better keep out of the way if you know what’s good for you.’

‘Takes more than a bad haircut to frighten me,’ I said to him.

Grubber, listening to this exchange of compliments, momentarily thought he might have to dash for the toilet again but then something happened which made him forgot all about it. The ref had blown his whistle.

Danny Millwall, our first five-eighth, kicked the ball into play. The Reds and Greens both dived for it. Sprigs grabbed it but it slipped between his slippery, muddied fingers. The ball bounced and twisted like it was alive, but luckily ended back in Danny’s outstretched hands. Then Spike suddenly rammed into Danny – it looked like a high tackle to me – and bowled him over. The ball popped from Danny’s hands, bounced again and was picked up by one of the heavy Red forwards who spun round and raced into our territory. He was too quick for any of us. He threw himself between the goalposts for a perfect try.

Five points to nill.

Half of the spectators cheered. The Red Brigade.

The other half, the Greenies, stayed silent.

Five points to the Reds, and another two for the easy conversion that followed.

Seven to nill.

Seven points on the scoreboard, in the first few minutes of the game. What a way to begin the Grand Final. What a way to begin my final game.

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Team talk

‘Listen up now,’ said our coach, Mr Marlow.

We stopped exercising and listened up.

Mr Marlow had been a top player in his day. We knew this was true because of his cauliflower ears. The left one especially was flattened and lumpy from having been in too many scrums and rucks.

Mr Marlow’s ears had given the Green’s our other name. We didn’t often use it as a name ourselves. It was the rival teams, especially the Reds, who did. Whenever they called us the Cauliflower Ears, which was each time we played them, they used it as an insult. But we took it as a compliment, just as Mr Marlow had suggested. We’d even put it into our team slogan to show how proud we were of it. Grubber had written the slogan. He was good at writing poems.

‘This is a noteworthy day,’ Mr Marlow continued.

We all nodded. It couldn’t get any more noteworthy than this. The Greens were in the Grand Final for the first time ever.

‘Repeat after me,’ said Mr Marlow.

‘This is a noteworthy day,’ we repeated.

‘It’s the Grand Final of the Junior Home World Cup.’

‘It’s the Grand Final of the Junior Home World Cup.’

‘And futhermore . . . ’

Mr Marlow paused for a second or two, then went on.

‘. . . it’s Wings’ last match with the Greens.’

I felt really weird when Mr Marlow said that. It made it seem more real than ever.

When mum and dad had first announced that we were going to live in Wellington I felt:

  1. like a stunned mullet
  2. angry
  3. sad
  4. more angry
  5. a little bit excited

But I knew we didn’t really have much choice. My parents were both from Wellington originally and they’d always said they’d go back there when they got the chance. Now the chance had come. Besides, boths sets of grandies and most of my aunts, uncles and cousins lived there, too.

‘You’ll find another team to play in,’ said Mum.

‘Maybe.’ I said. ‘But they’ll be nothing nearly as good as the Greens.’

Wings’ last match with the Greens.’

Everyone turned to look at me as they repeated Mr Marlow’s words. I turned away and gazed at the muddy ground. We’d played together for so long, it was going to be tough to quit. That’s why we had to win today. Mr Marlow had called this game my swansong, my final appearance.

‘We can do it,’ Mr Marlow said.

‘We can do it,’ we repeated as one.

‘We can win.’

‘We can win.’

‘All it takes . . .’

‘All it takes . . .’

‘Is applying the skills we’ve learnt and practised . . .’

‘The skills we’ve learnt and practised . . .’

‘Our determination . . .’

‘Our determination . . .’

‘And consideration . . .’

‘And consideration . . .’

‘For each other . . .’

‘For each other . . .’

‘And . . .’

‘And . . .’

‘The opposition.’


‘I’m waiting guys.’

‘The opposition,’ we said, knowing that consideration was the last thing the Reds would show us.

‘Great stuff,’ said Mr Marlow.

Then we chanted the Green Team’s slogan. It was short but sweet.

Three cheers

For the Cauliflower Ears!

‘Remember,’ said Mr Marlow, ‘you’ve come this far by fair play and by following the rules, so don’t let yourselves down.’

Then Grubber said the thing we’d all be thinking. ‘But the Reds give me the jitters Mr Marlow. They’re thuggish. That’s why everyone calls them the Devils.’

‘And that’s why you’re proud if they call you the Cauliflower Ears,’ said Mr Marlow.

‘Why?’ asked Sprigs.

‘Because you know how to play the game,’ said Mr Marlow. ‘And a good game played by Cauliflower Ears will always beat a bad game played by Devils.’

‘They foul all the time,’ I said,‘and they always try to make sure the ref doesn’t see what they’re up to.’

‘Then they’ll be the losers, whether they win or not,’ said Mr Marlow, which sounded strange but true at the same time. Not that we wanted the Reds to win, of course.

‘I’ve got to go to the toilet,’ said Grubber, suddenly all jittery.

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 4

Chapter Four: Jitters

Kick-off was at eleven. At ten-thirty both teams, the Greens and the Reds, the Cauliflower Ears and the Devils, were warming up at opposite ends of the playing field.

We needed the warm up, and not just to get our muscles loose and supple. It was really chilly out on the field. Our breaths were puffs of steamy white.

‘Just listen to that,’ said Grubber.

‘What?’ asked Sprigs.

‘The roar of the crowd.’

Sprigs and I looked round. The single stand had several dozen people on it, their hands wrapped round thermos flasks. There were also about fifty supporters standing in little groups on the sidelines, marching on the spot to keep warm. The Red Brigade and the Greenies. But you’d hardly call it a crowd. And it certainly wasn’t roaring.

‘That’s not a crowd you’re hearing,’ I said. ‘It’s your heart drumming.’

‘That’s what it is,’ agreed Sprigs.

‘Is not,’ said Grubber, but he clutched his chest all the same.

‘It’ll be because your dad’s staying to watch the game,’ I said.

Wings was right, even though Grubber wasn’t going to admit it. He’d managed to drag his dad out of bed and make him solemnly swear to stay for the whole game. Now Grubber wasn’t sure it had been such a good idea. He always felt queasy before a game.

Today he felt worse than usual. His lips were dry and his stomach was doing flip-flops. His heart, now that he had his hand over it, was definitely banging away like a jack-hammer. Grubber wasn’t surprised Sprigs and Wings could hear it. The whole team probably could. Actually, he’d never felt this bad.

‘I thought I was going to be late,’ said Sprigs, as we stretched our legs and swung our arms. ‘Man, it was hard finding matching laces.’

This time Grubber and I looked at each other. ‘Can’t have been as hard as me having to wake my dad up,’ said Grubber.

‘You two can laugh,’ said Sprigs, ‘but no way was I playing without a matching bootlace.’

‘We’re not actually laughing,’ I pointed out.

‘Not yet you aren’t,’ said Sprigs.

‘What I don’t understand,’ Grubber said, ‘is why you only replaced one of the laces. They come in pairs. You could have put in two new ones.’

Sprigs shook his head. ‘I just had to leave one of the old laces in,’ he explained. ‘They’ve been my lucky laces all season.’

‘Don’t we know it,’ I said.

Sprigs was our top scoring fullback. He hadn’t missed a goal kick all season. We were all depending on him, and his lucky laces, in the Grand Final.

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Butterflies

Grubber felt sickish. He always did before a game. His stomach had gone swimmy, his head felt light and floaty like a helium-filled balloon.

‘Maybe you’d better stay home,’ said his mother.

‘No chance,’ said Grubber.

‘But if you’re feeling crook wouldn’t it be more sensible?’

‘It’s not that sort of crookedness,’ Grubber explained.

‘Crookness,’ his mum corrected.

‘Whatever. It’s butterflies I’ve got. I can feel them dancing around.’

‘Are you sure that’s all it is? If you’re not fit to go, then sit the game out. It’ll keep your dad happy. ’

Course I’m fit!’ said Grubber. ‘I wouldn’t miss the game even if I really was sick.’

‘In that case, go and try waking your dad again.’

Grubber went to the bedroom where his dad was fast asleep after doing his nine hours on night shift. Grubber shook his dad’s shoulder.

‘Come on Dad. The big game’s starting soon. I need you to run me over.’

His dad groaned.

‘Hurry Dad, please, we’ve got to be there in less than an hour.’

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