5. Enough is Enough (Part 3)

Posted: October 29, 2014 in Beyond the Boundaries
"Righto, chaps, laddies ..."

“Righto, chaps, laddies …”

Stan finally found the courage to face the players.

“Righto chaps, lads. Now I know things aren’t going too well out there. But don’t give up.”

Stan rubbed his palms together and glanced at his players but no-one was interested. Stan decided, Now’s not the best time to address the chaps and laddies. He turned and faced the Bessa brick wall. The team’s been this far behind before. Lots of times. But the half-time break’s never been this out-of-control. Stan raked his fingers through his oily hair, and scratched at his scalp – packing the Californian Poppy tighter under his fingernails. He rearranged the lump of clothing tucked into his Y-fronts, and tugged at both earlobes. It’s only a little incident. It’ll sort itself out. Stan removed his specs, slid them into his shirt pocked, buried his face in his hands, and shook his head. No coach deserves this.

Rags eyed Stan closely. For quite a while. Like a Council worker studies the ground before he starts digging. He moved across and patted Stan’s back.

“Don’t worry, Rags. No-one wants your job. It’s safe.”

Rags’ voice echoed in the change shed. He chuckled at the truism, and stepped back as Stan straightened. Everyone appreciated the humour of Rags’ quip but no-one was in the mood to laugh with him.

Paul looked to his left and right. He saw the row of sunken heads, and added one more to the line.

Stan nodded at Rags as if to say, Thanks for trying to cheer me up. But don’t bother next time. He replaced his specs, and patted his hair into place.

“Righto chappies, lads. There’s only half a match left for the year.”

He pirouetted around to face the players, saw the two rows of lowered heads, withdrew his fist, and slotted his hands into his trouser pockets.

“Have a bit of a rest for a few minutes, lads, and we’ll talk a bit later. Before we go back out.”

Stan spun on his heels, and buried his own head in the Bessa brickwork.

At the sound of the umpire’s two-minute-whistle warning, the players rose from the benches. As Shep jogged daintily towards the door, Stan dipped his head to him. He listened to the sound of Shep’s sprigs trotting on concrete, waited for the crunch of gravel, then poked his head through the doorway. He watched Shep retreat from hearing distance, and slithered back to his customary postion in front of the blackboard.

“There’s been some pretty piss-poor umpiring out there today.”

Stan launched into one of his customary attacks on the injustice of shithouse umpiring decisions.

“We shouldn’t be this far behind. It’s obvious the ump’s not going to pay frees behind play. Or half of them in play. But there’s no use complaining. There’s nothing you can do about it. As hopeless as he is, he’s the ump, and you have to abide by his decisions.”

“Who’s he talking about? The ump or himself?” Arnie quipped to Ed.
“He’s not even convincing himself.”
“He’s a joke,” Arnie said with finality.
“Jokes are funny,” Ed said with double finality.

Snow decided to kill the morbid silence.

“Righto, you fellas. Come on!”

Other players joined in with shouts of their own.

Stan smiled dementedly at the collective noise. He motioned the players to take the field with a jerk of his arm.

“Okay, Sticks. Take the lads and chappies out there.”


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