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Best And Fairest
By Paul Francis Mc Cann
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Rated "G" by the Author.
With football sometimes there's more than winning .
It was a wet and cold evening on The Bone Oval and Brickfield United were in the middle of their training session . Keith Allsworth the coach was instructing the keeper on claiming high balls and working out the angle of shots while the rest of the team were practising their dribbling and some close ball control skills .
On Saturday Brickfield were playing Mould Street in the Gala Cup .
Last season when the teams met it was a very close game.
Brickfield scored the winner in extra time and lifted the trophy much to the dislike and envy of Rod Steel the coach of Mould Street .
Rod Steel had a reputation as King Of Field because for seven years running his teams had won the trophy until last season when Brickfield were victorious over his extremely tight outfit .
Rod’s attitude as a coach was quite aggressive and he pushed his players to the limit every week . His training sessions were more like punishment than having fun .
No doubt his method of training did pay dividends . He never held back his tongue when his players let up or never gave it their full effort .
He let them know what he though of them .
Rod was renowned for speaking up in the face of challenge .
The way he talked to people about his teams and his successes put himself up on a pedestal .
Most talented players in the district wanted to play in the teams Rod was with as he was having results , that was until last year when Brickfield won under the guidance of Keith Allsworth the new coach in the district .
If there was once thing Rod detested it was losing a game .
Keith now posed a threat to Rods crown and his team .
Brickfield United who beat his team in last seasons final had aquired somwe extra fire power during the off season and now looked a great chance of capturing the trophy for the second year running .
So as it was the last training night for both teams Rod had purposely booked The Bone Oval because he knew that Brickfield United would be training there
And he wanted to check out some of the tactics and also try to put Keith and his team on edge by coming to traing an hour early .
Keith Allsworth told his players to ignore Rod standing there on the sideline and to continue their training and playing .
Keith had a different way of coaching by inspiring and encouraging his players instead of rubbishing them if they made a mistake .
Keith never screamed orders from the sideline .
He always lifted them up for their effort .
Both coaches had achieved a similar level of technique and skill development and both teams had scored about the same amount of goals during the season .
The final was going to be a very close game .
Rod players arrived early as well and Mould Street did their utmost to interfere with Brickfields training session .
Keith called his team together and instructed them to call it a night .
Before they left Keith had a little pep talk in the change room about Saturdays game . Keith realised Rod had wanted a reaction on the field that evening but refused to take the bait . Keith was better than that . So at the end of the training session he walked over and wished Mould Street good luck on Saturday . That comment never went down well with Rod .
Saturday came around fast and a cold wind blew the ball from the center spot on Green Park as both teams were ready to begin play .
No one had expected such a large crowd . There was no room in the stands and some people had to take a place on the sidelines to watch the game .
As the referee again placed the ball on the centre spot he placed his foot over the ball and tossed the coin .Brickfield united won the toss and decided to play with the wind in the first half .
As both teams had to change ends Keith was approached by a man who asked if he and his son could sit with him in under the shelter of the team
Coachs enclosure . Keith could see that the mans son was down syndrome and as the rain was starting to fall he agree to have two visitors sit with him .
As the ball was kicked off Rod was screaming at the top of his voice for his players to go in hard and so they did . The game was only ten minutes old when the centre forward for Mould Street went in too hard on Brickfields goalkeeper . The injury that resulted was ended the game for the goalkeeper .
A yellow card was shown to the Mould Street player for the challenge but now things were not looking good for Brickfield . Further hard challenges were going in to the Brickfield team and some knocks required treatment on the sideline . While Brickfield were down to were ten players and with a reserve goalkeeper in Mould Street hammered a shot into the back of the net .
Rod steel jumped into he air and let out a wild scream .
After the ball was kicked off a back pass send the ball to a defender but as the ball was driven back to the keeper a gust of wind tossed the ball accidentally against the hand of the Brickfield United centre half .
The whistle blew for a penalty kick .
Keith was unsettled and still trying to get his injured player back on the field of play .
The Spot kick was well placed and it was two nil for Mould Street .
Rod went ballistic and jumped up in the air screaming ,
“There it is . Now lets have another . Come on don’t give them anything. “
When the half time whistle went the players left the field . Rod again made sure he rubbed the salt into BrickfieldS wounds and said ,
“Yeah ! That’s the way Mould Street . Now lets use the wind in second half . Play some real football . Score some more .“
Keith was restrained in his words and ushered his team into the change room It was difficult for Keith to fuel to a fire that had been extinguished .
Some of the players were arguing with each other .
“Hang in there Brickfield . Its not over yet team . Keep you head up . Let’s not panic just yet . Even if we are losing let’s show them we are still together as a team . “
“What about the referee . He should have send their striker off for that slide tackle on our keeper .“
‘Keith how is he ?
Said the captain .
Keithg replied ,
“He’s gone to have some x-rays . I won’t know until after the game .Lets not worry about that . We have a game to play so out you go and keep your head up . Shoot every chance you get and don’t give the ball away .“
Both teams returned for the second half .
Brickfield pushed everybody forward . No point defending when you two nil behind in a final . Mould Street got lucky when a short pass was intercepted and a hit and hope ball which was meant for a clearance was carried by the wind and ended up in the net .
Rod Steel was now kissing the ground and screaming at the top of his voice .
“Yeah ! There it is . Let ‘s use that wind . “
It was three nil to Mould Street and the game looked all over .
The rain began to fall heavier .
Keith went and sat inside the dug out enclosure and was greeted by a kind smile . The Father of the down syndrome boy placed his hand on Keith shoulder and said ,
“Hello . My name is Jack and my son’s name is Jack junior .”
Keith reached out his hand they exchanged a firm handshake .
“Nice to meet you. “
Keith said .
“I’d like to ask a favour ?”
Said Jack .
“Ok . If there is anything I can do , sure .”
Said Keith .
Jack replied ,
“My son Jack is disabled but all his life he wanted to be a goalkeeper . I was wondering if you could let him play for the last fifteen minutes . “
Keith looked at Jack and Jack junior and smiled and then he continued ,
“Well I’d like to help Jack but all the players have to be registered before they are able to play .”
Jack took Keith to one side and quietly said ,
“Well coach , I actually registered Jack junior before the season started . I have never brought him to any training . Sometimes he gets uneasy with things like that . Even though he’s never played or trained coach , it would make a feel really special if he did goalkeeper in the final .“
Keith realised it was three nil and the team had lost heart . So after he checked the registration card Keith and said
“Well , why not . “
He approached Jack Junior and asked if would go in .
Jack Junior lit up . The smile on his face was radiant . He jumped for joy .
Keith provided some glovers and a jersey and shorts .
After Jack Junior was dressed Keith stood on the sideline and si9gnalled to the ref he was going to make a change .
When Keith called off the Brickfield goalkeeper Jack Junior went on and took his place . It took both teams by surprise and even the referee asked to see the registration card . Keith had scribbled Jack Juniors name on to the players names and with everything in order the game was commenced .
No sooner was Jack Junior placed in the goals when Mould Street went on another attack . A quick one two and a through ball saw the Mould Street striker slear wioth only the keeper to beat . Everybody shouted
“Come out keeper . “
“Come on Jack Junior . “:
Said Keith from the dug out .
Jack Junior surged out and with a kind of rugby tackle around the ankles brought down the striker in front of goal .
The referee blew the whistle for a penalty kick .
As the ball was placed on the spot Jack Junior received enormous applause from the stands . He had won the hearts of the crowd on both sides .
As the centre forward lined up to take the penalty he was so moved by the crowd and the magic of the moment that he just tapped the ball gently at the feet of the keeper who lifted up the ball safely in his hands .
The crowd went wild . Rod Steel himself was even touched with what had just taken place .
Jack Junior was inspired and threw the ball to the ground . He began to kick the ball and run up the field . People in the stands cheered and began to shout in unison .
“Go keeper go .“
Some of the Mould Street defenders faked a tackle and allowed Jack Junior to make it to the penalty box . Jack Junior shot towards the goal and the Mould Street fell slowly to the ground . With his hands missing the ball the ball went into the net . It was now three one and Jack Junior had inspired Brickfield who went on the attack after the kick off . Mould Street didn’t know what hit them . It was like a siege . From a corner kick Brickfield completely against the run of play struck the ball firmly into the back of the net and now it was three two with a minute to go .
The crowd were stunned into silence when suddenly Jack Junior lifted the ball from the field of play and ran the entire length of the field with everybody screaming .
He threw the ball into the net and the referee blew the whistle for a free kick to Mould Street for hand ball . Jack Junior was unaware he had done anything wrong and danced all the way back down the field . People were clapping and cheering . Jack senior was crying in the dug out .
Never before had he seen his son so happy .
The Mould Street centre half placed the ball on the ground and was poised to take the free kick . There was such an enormous compassion on the filed for what Jack Junior had brought to the game . It was more than a football match that was taking place . Every player and spectator recognised this once in a life time chance to do something good .
When the centre half turned and slammed the dead ball into the back of his owns teams net it was three all .
The crowd erupted in a rapturous applause .
There were tears on the faces of people all over the ground .
Even Rod was happy with the result .
After extra time the final whistle blew and penalties .had to decide the winner of the game .
Not one player on the Mould Street was able to knock the ball past Jack Junior in the shoot out . Most of the shoys were either blasted over the bar or wide of the target . In a similar gesture Brickfield United did the same .
For the first time in histort it was decided that the final was drawn and the trophy would be shared by both teams until the next season began .
Before the next season came around ,
The sad news of Jack Juniors passing had come .
It was not a sad day at his funeral when both teams with their coaches stood beside the graveside .
From that day a trophy in honour of Jack Junior was made .
Sometimes there is more to winning a game .
Everybody learnt something about life the day Jack Junior went to play .
By Paul McCann
Site: Poetry Scriber
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