This story

THE FOOTBALL MATCH

by Robert Williams

"Right, in you go," said Clive.

"What?!" said Des. "No, after you, I insist!"

"I'm not going in first!" exclaimed Clive. "I'm not that brave! You go in first, Mick!"

"You must be joking!" said Mick. "She'll make me eat something!"

"Why don't we just go back to my house?" said Des.

"No, we're going in here, if only someone will pluck up the courage to go in first!" said Clive.

"What's this meeting about, anyway, Des?" said Mick.

"I'll tell you once we get in," said Des. "If we ever get in!"

Just then a foolhardy member of the public entered Mrs Greasy's cafe.

"Now's our chance!" said Des. They sneaked in behind the customer and discreetly sat down at a table at the side.

"Hello you lot, what would you like to eat?" said Mrs Greasy.

"Blast," said Clive.

"Oh botherations," said Des. They ordered their food and Mrs Greasy came back with her own unique interpretation of their orders.

"What's this?!" exclaimed Mick. "I asked for chips!"

"They are chips!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.

Mick gingerly dipped his hand into the soggy mess that graced his plate and pulled out a mushy excuse for a chip which promptly collapsed.

"Ugh," said Des, grimacing. "Move your chips out of my sight, your food's putting me off my picking my nose!"

"This is getting worse and worse," said Clive, who, having failed to see his milkshake move even when he shook the glass, turned it upside down, hit the bottom of the glass and still it stuck there.

"Anyway, what's this important meeting about?" said Mrs Greasy.

"Well," said Des, who was having severe problems breaking through his custard, "I was down the shoe repair shop this morning..."

"Cobblers," said Clive.

"No it's true," said Des. "Anyway, I bumped into my old friend Tony Tick there, and he said that they're setting up a football league."

"So what? You're not interested in football," said Mick.

"No," said Des. "But he said they needed one more team to make up the league, so he asked me. I didn't want to seem a wally, so I said yes."

"Oh brilliant," said Mick.

"Well one of you must know something about football," said Des. "What about you, Clive?"

"Me?" said Clive. "I'm more of an athletics man, myself!"

"I don't suppose anyone else knows anything about it," said Des.

"I support Puddletown Rovers!" said Wayne.

"So you don't know anything about football either," said Mick.

"Well we've all got to take part in our first match on Saturday," said Des. "How many people do you need in a team?"

"Eleven," said Clive. "I know that much."

"Oh," said Des. "That many. Well let me see...we've got me, Clive, Mick, Wayne, Mrs Greasy, Farmer Files and Dave...that's seven."

"But Mrs Greasy's a woman!" said Clive.

"Do you know anything about football?" said Des.

"Nope," said Mrs Greasy.

"Then she's qualified, then," said Des.

"What about yer Aunty Phyllis?" said Wayne.

"You must be joking," said Des. "Ralph might though. And I suppose we could get Dickie the Vicar in as well. That's nine."

"I know! I'll get me winda cleaner mates Shane and Dwayne!" said Wayne.

"Do they know how to play football?"

"They watch it on the telly!" said Wayne. "But they don't understand it!"

"That's eleven then," said Des. "All we need now is a name."

"Tolworth Dipsticks!" laughed Clive, jokingly.

"That'll do," said Des.

Clive stopped laughing.

"Our first match is on Saturday, so we'd better hold a meeting to discuss tactics before then," said Des. "Oh yes, there's one other thing. We've got to win, otherwise I lose £500. And you lot will have to cough up."

"What??!! £500???!!!" exclaimed the others.

"Why on earth did you do that for? There's no way we'll win!" exclaimed Mick.

"Well you never know..." said Des.

The Tolworth Dipsticks gathered in Mrs Greasy's cafe the following day. Des had already declared himself the team captain.

"Right then," said Des. "What are our tactics?"

"We kick the ball around," said Mick.

"Brilliant," said Des. "That'll do."

"Don't you have to kick it into something?" said Ralph.

"Oh...do you mean the gulls?" said Mick.

"Gulls?" said Des. "You mean seagulls?"

Wayne looked disturbed.

"Won't that 'urt 'em??"

"He means the goals!" said Clive. "Oh what are you doing Mrs Greasy?!"

Mrs Greasy was going round the team with a tape measure and generally getting in their way.

"We're going to need something to wear," she said. "So I'm going to knit us some football jerseys."

"Oh dear..." said Des.

That Saturday they turned up at the cafe where Mrs Greasy presented them with their gear.

"Pink??!!" exclaimed Des.

"That's my favourite colour!" said Mrs Greasy.

"I am going to so embarrassed," said Clive. The knitted jerseys were bright pink with 'TOLWORTH DIPSTICKS' emblazoned across them.

"Look at these shorts!" said Mick. "They're more like longs!"

"They're like the ones football players wore in the old days!" said Clive.

"So who exactly are we playing?" asked Ralph.

"Tony Tick's team," said Des. "We're bound to win, they're useless."

The team loaded into Des's van and drove to the football ground. They entered the changing room (except for Mrs Greasy who was forced to change in the back of the van) and Des gave them some team talk.

"Right you lot, it's a game of three halves, we've got a level playing field, and we're going to go out there and WIN."

Clive sniggered.

"Who's goin' in the seagull?" said Wayne.

"The goal!" said Clive. "Let's get Dave, he's big and fat."

"Hey man, that'll do me!" said Dave.

"Good idea," said Des. "Right then, let's get out there."

"Do we have to? I feel such a pillock!" said Clive.

Dickie the Vicar said his prayers and they ventured out onto the field where the other team, the Surbiton Rovers, had already gathered, as well as a small crowd. As soon as they saw the Tolworth Dipsticks they burst out laughing.

"Ignore them," said Des. "They're just jealous because we're better than them. Who's got the bat, then?"

The opposition fell about with laughter.

"You use your foot!" exclaimed Mick. "That's why it's called football!!"

"Oh," said Des. "It's very muddy out here."

He stepped forward into a muddy patch and gave Clive, who was tying his shoelaces, a faceful of mud.

"Thank you Des," said Clive. "Shall we get on with it? Where's the ref?"

The referee ran onto the field, right on cue.

"Everyone assemble yourselves!" exclaimed Des.

"But where do we stand?" queried Mrs Greasy.

"How should I know? Just stand anywhere!"

The Tolworth Dipsticks stood in a random order on the field, except for Dave who went into the goal, and Des who stood in the centre of the field opposite Tony Tick. The ref placed the ball in the centre of the field. Des braced himself, ready to kick the ball, and the ref blew the whistle. The game had started!

Immediately Tony Tick kicked the ball past Des.

"Oh come on, you hardly gave me a chance!" protested Des.

Tony and his team kicked the ball past all the members of the Tolworth Dipsticks who just stood there, and straight into the goal past Dave who was busy munching on a hamburger.

"GOAL!!!!" yelled Tony. The ref blew his whistle.

"Honestly!" exclaimed Des. "They hardly gave us a chance!"

"Try running around a bit," said Tony, giving Des a bit of advice.

"Try running around a bit!!" exclaimed Des to his team.

"I can't Des, I'm busy cooking up something for half time!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy with her portable kitchen. Des sighed. The ref blew his whistle and the game restarted. Almost immediately the Surbiton Rovers scored another goal.

"You're not giving us a chance!" moaned Des.

This carried on for the whole of the first half, by which time torrential rain was pouring.

"Mrs Greasy, these woollies are useless!" moaned Des. "There's so flimsy they're letting all the rain in!"

By half time the score was Surbiton Rovers 57, Tolworth Dipsticks 0. Des took his soaked team into the changing room (mainly because it was the one place they could avoid Mrs Greasy and her half time cooking).

"Now we could still win," said Des, hopefully. "We only have to score 58 and we've won!"

"Maybe we should put someone else in goal," said Ralph. "Dave didn't even attempt to stop the ball going into the net!"

"What, man?" exclaimed Dave. "Is that what I was supposed to be doin'? Why didn't you tell me?"

"Anyway, I think it's time we brought in our secret weapon," said Des.

"Secret weapon?" said the others. Des explained his plan.

When they went back out for the second half, the whole team reassembled on the pitch and the game restarted. The Surbiton Rovers scored three more goals when Wayne suddenly cried out.

"Ouch!! Ouch!! Me leg!! Me leg!!"

Wayne started staggering around, while everyone else stared at him.

"Ouch!! Me leg!! Ouch!! Ouch!!"

"Don't overdo it Wayne," sighed Des to himself.

Eventually Wayne toppled over and landed on the ground on his back.

"Is he all right?" said Tony Tick.

"He'll be fine," said Des. "We'll have to bring on our substitute, though."

"Was that all right Des?" whispered Wayne. He got up and walked off, as fit as a fiddle.

"I don't know why I bother," said Des. "Oh look, here comes our substitute."

On walked a bearded man wearing a Tolworth Dipsticks jumper. The Surbiton Rovers and the crowd conferred with each other. Hadn't they seem him before somewhere?

"Bonjour, Des," he said to Des.

"Right ref, restart the game!" said Des. The ref did so, and what a second half it proved to be - with the mystery Frenchman completely taking the game over and scoring goal after goal for the Tolworth Dipsticks. Tony Tick and his team were completely dumbfounded.

Meanwhile the rest of Des's team had given up altogether with the game. Dwayne and Shane were busy cleaning the windows of the changing rooms, Farmer Files was feeding his porkers, Dave was munching on some hamburgers, Ralph was spotting some passing trains, Mrs Greasy was doing some more cookery and Dickie the Vicar was giving a sermon to the reluctant crowd.

By the time the last thirty seconds of the game had come the score was Surbiton Rovers 57, Tolworth Dipsticks 58. Des, who had been keeping score, excitedly told the team that they were in the lead at last, and had effectively won.

"Hey, Eric, have a hamburger to celebrate!" exclaimed Dave.

"Merci, Elvis," said the mystery man.

"Hey man, I'm not Elvis!!" exclaimed Dave.

The mystery footballer was so busy munching on his celebratory hamburger that he hadn't noticed the referee had restarted the game. The Surbiton Rovers seized their chance and kicked the ball into the net.

The Tolworth Dipsticks gasped.

"Quickly!!" exclaimed Des. "Eric, go for it!!"

With just five seconds remaining, Eric finished off his hamburger, took the ball and was about to kick it into the net when the referee blew the final whistle.

"I don't believe it," said Des. "A draw. 58 all. What does this mean?"

"It means a replay on Thursday," said Tony. "Are you all available?"

"I think so..." said Des, "...what about you, Eric?"

"Sorry, non," said Eric.

"What??!!" exclaimed Des. "But you've got to be!! We'll never win otherwise!!"

"Can I have my £500 now?" he said.

"Erm, well...er...now, can we negotiate this...er...oh dear..."


Copyright © Robert Williams
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