Tommy

Tommy trapped the ball with his left foot, pushed it forward with the right, looked up. There were four opposition players between his current position and the goal. Johnnie was screaming out for it on the right. Tommy ignored this and started to dribble along the sideline.

The first defender came at him at high speed. He was huge, compared to Tommy’s slender yet athletic build. Tommy was sure the opposition player wasn’t going for just the ball. But Tommy had to overcome him. Tommy stepped his right foot over the ball and knocked it away from the full back with his opposite boot. The defender missed Tommy, and the ball completely. Phew. Tommy continued up the pitch , picking up speed as he went. The next two players trotted towards him. He didn’t care. He knew his skills far outweighed theirs’. Tommy ran straight towards the first challenger, and actually increased his pace. He was nearly going full throttle. Any moment now. For his next trick Tommy leant towards his right and all of a sudden shifted his weight onto his left foot. As he did this, he knocked the ball with the outside of his left boot and dribbled it up the line. The opposition player had no idea, he tried to execute a slide tackle but ended u p in the first row of the crowd, instead of getting a touch on the ball.

The second player was smarter. He waited patiently and jockeyed Tommy against the side line. Tommy had to protect the ball very carefully. He had slowed his pace by about half but even that was quick. Tommy wasn’t going to let this player get the better of him. He performed a combination of impressive footwork, all to no avail. This rival was talented . But Tommy had detected a weakness. Tommy was going to use this flaw to his advantage. With a quick flick of his foot, Tommy pushed a pass between the stoppers ’ boots. Oh no, it wasn’t going to make it…Ahhh, Tommy had confused the him with the move and the opponent had repositioned his leg to the left just a millimetre too far and the ball skidded through. Tommy sprinted around the player and controlled the ball again, setting off once more down the line.

One defender to go. The sweeper. Reputed as the best ever seen in the forty year history of the competition. No one had ever survived a challenge with this foe. The only goals scored against this team had occurred when the sweeper was out with an ankle injury the previous week . And Tommy had to beat him if there was any chance of scoring, and winning the championship.

Tommy started to get a little nervous. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion. He could hear his heart thumping inside his chest, so slowly , so loudly. Something was caught in his throat, obstructing his breathing. He wasn’t going to make it, he just knew it. Then a miracle occurred. The enemy, who was no less than a few centimetres to Tommy’s right, turned on his injured ankle, twisting it and collapsing in agony. The media had reported that the superstar returned too early from his injury. However, there was no time for Tommy to see if the opposition player was in one piece, so he continued with eyes only for the goal, and victory.

Tommy was home free. It was a well known fact that the goalkeeper for the unfriendlies was the worst in the league, only made to look good by his star fullback, who lay in a pile squirming just outside the eighteen yard box. The only game that team had lost was the eight-nil thumping last week when the sweeper was out. The keeper didn’t even get close to saving any goals. Just stood on his line and never moved. Tommy was home free. He sprinted the last few metres, controlling the ball as if it were on a string. This was it, the championship was Tommy’s. The goal scoring record was in his reach. Tommy would be known as the greatest player the world has ever seen. All Tommy had to do was slot it past the goalie. He could see himself holding the Championship Cup above his head. The glory was his.

What’s this? The goalkeeper was coming towards Tommy, cutting down the angle of the shot. “No problem ,” thought Tommy, “I’ll just have to slot it around him .” All he had to do was pick the right moment…NOW! Tommy smashed the ball towards the bottom right corner with his instep. What a shot, it’s going in, the keeper has no chance. It’s in, it’s in , it’s…

Oh no, the ball has clipped the post… oh it’s missed… the ball has crossed the backline. NOOOOOOOOO.

Tommy fell to his knees and wrapped his head with his arms. He had lost the championship, it was all his fault. What an idiot. The referee blew his whistle, signalling full time. Tommy rolled over on the ground and howled. He had lost his team the game. He couldn’t believe it. He’d worked for this his whole life, this was his dream. And he had stuffed it up.

Tommy could hear the crowd, hissing, booing and yelling out things that were not very pleasant. He could hear one voice overpowering all the others. He couldn’t block it out.

“YOU ROTTEN SCOUNDREL. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU NOT TO KICK THAT BLOODY BALL IN MY GARDEN? YOU’VE SMASHED MY GARDENIA!” scowled Tommy’s mother.

Tommy

Sarah Donoghue

Orange, Australia

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