Group Z - Patrick James
I've used Football and Hockey.
I stared out the window of my class room, watching a sole butterfly in the cold December morning. Its movement was fluid, graceful even, as though it were a contestant in an ice skate competition. I was quickly jerked back from my day dreaming and my eyes focused on my computer screen, an assignment that was waiting to be completed sat in front of me. Once I’d finish this, I’d be able to enjoy my soccer training. Suddenly, a bell rang, signalling the end of my Computing period. It was finally the end of the school day, which meant that soccer practice edged closer. Soccer is my life and I’d give anything for it.
I skipped to my locker to store my books and to retrieve my kit bag. In haste, I accidentally crushed my mask that I use for drama, but I couldn’t be bothered really and I swung my kit bag over my shoulder and shut my locker. Jogging my way to the changing rooms, I kept thinking about next week’s game against our bitter rivals, Manchester High. It was a must-win game for us as this game decides on who wins the title, our school, London High or their school. Quickly, my team mates and I changed into our jerseys and off we went onto the freshly-cut grass.
We started our initial warm up by doing some ground passing and chest traps and moved on to game plans and strategies. During one of our plays, we were practicing aerial duels, however, what I didn’t anticipate was that I’d get knocked out by my team mate during a head on collision. The last thing I remembered was a low groaning whimper escaping from my team mate’s mouth.
My eyes started to hurt as I opened my heavy eye-lids to the blinding white lights of a hospital. All my mates surrounded my bed, waiting for me to regain consciousness. The guy who collided with me, Ted, apparently didn’t suffer a serious damage, which I was thankful of, but I couldn’t face the fact that I couldn’t start the game against Manchester High and that I’d be sitting on the sidelines, helpless almost. Once I was discharged, I got back into personal training. I was striving to be fit for the game and even though it hurt my head, I was used to the pain 2 days before game time. I went to train with the team and I did alright, but my coach didn’t want to take a chance by playing me from the beginning. Soon enough, it was match day.
The atmosphere in the stadium was absolutely buzzing. Vuvuzela blows, chants, flags all engulfed the pitch. A few other team mates who couldn’t make the first 11 sat with me on the substitutes’ bench. I gave an encouraging pat on the back on each of my team players who were out on the field. London High were the team to kick off; the referee blew his whistle, and there they were off! We started off brilliantly, our crosses were delivered with precision, but we just couldn’t get the forwards on the ball. Manchester High’s defence was impeccable. However, I felt I knew their tactics and that I should be on the field playing.
The first blow of the day was dealt, and it wasn’t looking pretty. Manchester High scored the first goal of the match, a simple tap-in shot for the Manchester forward. However, our goalkeeper did make a wonderful first-time save, unlucky for us the bounce was unfavourable. In frustration, Joe, our goalkeeper, booted the ball up field almost like an American football punt. London High supporters were groaning in disgust, while Manchester fans were cheering their team on. It was kick-off once more, and I stood up and screamed out words of encouragement.
If there was anything that defined swift reply, it had to be our goal. We scored straight from kick-off, Andy, our striker, just blitz past through the Manchester defence to score and absolute peach of a goal. The London fans were off their seats, screaming and chanting. Half-time was soon upon us and there was an air of hope that clung in the atmosphere. The changing room was dense with tension, but also with belief. Keeping with our half time tradition, we all stayed silent, focusing on what to do next. The coach kept drilling us about confidence and spirit. He lead us out of the tunnel to begin the second half of the game.
Not much occurred during the next 43 minutes, it was a tense stalemate. Both teams trying their best to not concede. We were going on the attack once more, and at the stroke of the 89th minute, we had our breakaway! The Manchester High defender brought down Andy in the penalty box with a rash tackle which saw Andy limp off the pitch to be attended by medical assistants. I was the only striker on the team and my coach looked up to me expectantly and whispered in my ear; “Finish this game son!”
I ran across the field and stepped up to take the penalty. All eyes were on me, the crowd was so silent you could hear a pin drop. It was just me and the opposing keeper. It was the longest moment of my life. I took a step forward and ran my boot through it. Our fans went crazy! The ball ended up at the back of the net and the other teams’ goalkeeper fell to the ground. We had won the game and the title! The entire team came and raised me up and threw me up in the air, while I clutched the warm, metal surface of the sweet trophy.