Sunday 22 April 2018

Maybe I needed a break, but this was ridiculous

'On the line! On the line!" barked the 'keeper, as we trotted back towards the goal for the '45. "Last play lads! Blue team are down by two. Go for goal." I grabbed a hold of my opponent's bib, preventing him from making a run. A searing pain shot down my side as he replied with the butt of his elbow.

"Ooooh jaysus, no need for that."

With a week to go to our next championship outing, training was getting heated as 30 lads competed for 15 places.

"I saw that, calm it down lads. There'll be umpires behind you next week remember." Our coach was acting as referee. He turned towards the kicker and signalled for him to proceed.

"On the line lads, he's going to lob it in."

I stayed with my man, reluctant to stand on the line, leave that to the long lads. There was a faint thud as the ball was dinked into the air towards us. I reached out to touch my man, not taking my eyes off the ball as it began its descent towards the penalty spot. I watched from the edge of the square as six or seven lads jumped into the evening sun.

"On the breaks reds."

The ball broke just to my left. In my eyeline I could see a blue player hurtling towards it like a train. Just as he wound up to pull towards goal, I leapt and made an attempt to toe poke the ball out for another '45. Then there was darkness.

"Oh Lord, quick, someone. Doc quick, his leg, jaysus his leg."

I was flat on my back. My vision was blurred and there were pins and needles in my right knee. I could see nine or ten silhouettes around me, the blinding sunlight making it difficult. Some were shaking their heads, others had hands over their mouths; some couldn't even look. I knew I was fucked.

I made out the distinct figures of the manager and team doctor crouching over me.

"Keep still son, there's an ambulance on the way."

"Doctor, I've to milk in two hours, will I be okay?"

"Just keep still."

* * * * *

"Now, I'm just going to give you the anaesthetic, theatre is being prepped as we speak." I looked on as she prepared the drugs. A brunette; she wasn't much older than me and cute as a pet fox; a grand young-one.

"It's not in the arse is it?"

"Excuse me? Ahem, no; it's through your IV needle."

I was numb, struggling to keep my eyes focused. They had me full to the gills with pain-killers. It was like being stoned drunk without the empty wallet or dodgy stomach. "The last time I felt like this I was trying to order a kebab at four in the morning. Do you like kebabs?"

"They're okay I suppose. This might sting a little." She took my hand and began to administer the anaesthetic.

"You're good with a syringe, did you ever dose calves? There's plenty of work at home if you're interested."

"No, I'm afraid I didn't. I'm going to count to ten . . . One . . ."

"What age are ya?

"Two . . ."

"What does your father do? Any land?

"Three . . ."

"Sure will we go out for a grand feed when I . . I . . ."

"Is he awake?" "Did you see that nurse? Some bit of stuff!" "He'll hardly eat that toast will he? I'm bloody starving."

I slowly opened my eyes. Four blurry figures stood at the foot of my bed. My team-mates had come to see me. I was still numb, but now I felt sick to the stomach.

"Ah, he's awake. Alright buck?" I groaned with the discomfort. "He fuckin' minced ya. There was some crunch, it was like a fella breaking a branch; horrible. Don't worry, I'll give him the studs tomorrow."

I looked towards my leg. I was in a huge red cast up to the knee.

"I'd say there's some amount of wires and plates in th' oul' leg now lad. You'll be goin' to the mechanic instead of the physio from here on in."

The doctor strolled in carrying a clipboard. He was wearing an expensive-looking suit and his shoes were sparkling, not to mention the slicked-back hair and the designer stubble.

"Was the wedding good doctor?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Ah, I'm only messing. What's the latest? Championship next week, will I be ready?" I knew I probably wouldn't play again this year but being light-hearted made things easier.

"You'll be in the cast for 12 weeks, then rehab for another 12 before you can start jogging again I'm afraid. All going well you'll be back fully for the National League next spring."

"Right. You're killing me here doctor." It was devastating news. I slumped down in the bed and shook my head.

"That's best-case scenario I'm afraid. You've a clean break to your tibia as well as a compound fibula fracture and some ligament damage. It's like someone hit you with a sledgehammer."

"He's some boot on him alright; won the cic fada there a few years ago."

"I can reveal that Larry, is NOT the biological father!"

Jaysus. I took another spoon of my Coco Pops. Unable to work, I'd been reduced to spending my days fixated by daytime television. My leg was propped up on the coffee table and my crutches rested against the chair. It'd been five weeks since my injury and it was beginning to dawn on me just how long it would take before I played again; not to mention the endless hours of toiling in the gym to get strong and fit enough.

Suddenly the sitting room door burst open. It was Dad, in an agitated state.

"Where's your brother? The cattle are out in Dillons' cabbage field, there'll be war!"

"Dunno, think he's in bed?"

He ran up the stairs to wake my brother. They were in for a serious afternoon of running.

I looked out the window. It was foaming rain outside; lakes were beginning to form in our driveway. I reached for my hot cup of tea and took a gulp. Every cloud . . .

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