Semi-Finals Week – Day 5

The television, which had been working perfectly one nanosecond previously…
…went dead.
The match…
…was lost…
Hardy, who seconds earlier had been leaning casually against the sofa,
shot into action. He leaped up and shouted,
‘Don’t worry, FOLLOW ME!’
They were all worried that they would miss the end of the match, but
the gurgling sounds coming out of the TV suggested that it was terminally
Hardy was first out of the door, grabbing hold of the door frame to
steady himself as his socks slid along the polished wooden floor. Wil was
not so lucky. As his socks hit the floor his feet slid from under him and he
crashed into the wall opposite, taking Michael down with him. They sat on
the floor for a moment before jumping up and sprinting after the others, their
feet making no progress, Tom and Jerry‐like, as they tried to accelerate.
In the kitchen, Hardy was fiddling with a small TV set in one corner.
‘Come on, come ON!’ he said, as the little set slowly slowly warmed up.
‘I said, COME ON!’
The set did not warm up any quicker, but eventually a misty image
appeared on the screen. They all peered over each other to get a look. As the
sound also came through, they heard the commentator clearly say,
‘And the referee puts the whistle to his lips for the end of the game, and IT’S
OVER…what a close game that was’.
Wednesday 2 May 2007
Semi‐Finals Week
Eight footballers screamed at the television.
‘I can’t believe we missed it’, said Wil turning to walk away.
‘Hang on’, said Freddy, ‘replays’.
The image was clear now, and was focused back on Gary and the two
Alans in the studio.
‘Well, Alan shall we just look at that last move again?’
‘Yes Gary, if we look here at the boy Michael, he’s come running down the
right wing there, faced by the Butterfield defender. You watch…just watch this…did
you see that stepover? Sent the defender completely the wrong way, but it’s left him
with the tightest of angles from which to score…you really think he’s going to do it
here…then…HERE…it takes a little bobble I think…and his shot from out wide on
the right is sailing over the goalkeeper’s head…’
‘The goalkeeper’s completely beaten at this point, Alan…’
‘Yes, Gary, he’s nowhere…the lob is so beautiful, so precise, it clears his
head…and I can’t believe… that it rolls along the crossbar like that, before going out
for a harmless goalkick. And of course, that was the last chance of the match. The
referee blew for full time right after that.’
Of course, seeing the game again on TV didn’t make the result any
easier to take. They sat in silence on the floor of the kitchen as the final music
from Match of the Day faded away.
‘It’s all my fault’, said Michael sadly, curling himself up almost into a
ball and burying his hands deep into his armpits, ‘I should have scored that…it
was a rubbish chip, it was always going over…’
‘You should’ve passed it actually…’ said Clara, ‘I was coming up through
the middle, I could have had a tap in…’
Semi‐Finals Week
‘Well, I was in a better position…there was no‐one marking me out on the
left’, said Jaz.
‘NO WAY!’ said Clara, ‘you wouldn’t have reached it, and even if you did,
you would probably have missed!’
Jaz got up, and after looking menacingly at Clara for a few seconds, he
left the room.
‘THAT was not fair,’ said Freddy to Clara, ‘go and apologise to him, right
Clara looked at Freddy, then at Michael, then at Wil and Alex, then
at JoJo, and then at Hardy. They all looked back at her. She must have
realised that she had gone too far.
‘OK, you’re right’, she said, and sheepishly left the room to go to find
‘Listen, we got a draw, and we had a fantastic season, we can’t complain about
anything. It was our first season in the league. And its not over yet’, said Freddy
‘What’s not over?’ said Wil.
‘Well, we haven’t looked through the results properly yet, have we? We might
still win’.
‘Still win? We can still go to Athens?’
‘Let’s see’.
Freddy pulled a scrap of paper out of his pocket and tried to flatten it
on the floor. On it were various numbers, in different colours. Some of the
numbers were readable, others had almost faded out over time.
‘So, all we need to do, is to check these results against Butterfield’s…’
‘Well, they lost a game as well, and they drew the two games against us. Did
they win all their others?’ said Hardy, getting excited.
Wednesday 2 May 2007
Semi‐Finals Week
‘Yes, we’ve both won nine games’, said Freddy, squinting at his piece of
paper, ‘now what was our goal difference again?’ He squinted more at the piece
of paper, then started counting on his fingers…
‘Two against Hurst, five against Hags…that makes eight…then another five
against Wanderers, that makes twelve…’
‘No it doesn’t…five and three are seven…’
‘No they’re not…’
Two hours later….
‘Well, thirty and four are definitely thirty‐four…’
‘Well, I think we scored thirty‐five goals…’ said Freddy.
‘OK, let’s look at Butterfield’s results…’ said Hardy,
‘Well…I’ve recorded most of their games here…’ said Freddy, fishing
around in his back pocket for something.
‘Or was it here?’ feeling around in his side pocket.
‘Or perhaps here?’ looking in his shoe.
‘P’raps it’s here’, said Hardy, grabbing Freddy’s ear, and looking into
‘Oi, leave it out, I’ve got it here somewhere…’
Three hours later….
Michael, who had been replaying in slow motion Dirk Kuyt’s final
penalty for Liverpool which put them into the Champions League final,
eventually said,
‘Look, we’re getting nowhere, but I’ve got an idea’.
‘Let’s go and get Jaz. He’ll know whether we’re going’.

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