Cometh the hour, cometh the…..BOY.
The previous seventy-nine minutes of the game had been muddy and ill-tempered. The bellicosity started at the first scrum when both front rows started punching one another and soon, the remaining ten ‘grunts’ were engaged in close conflict. Both teams were evenly matched in skills and nothing separated them on the score board as the ball was kicked within thirty yards of the Armies try line.
Blue and Kaki uniforms marched eagerly along the touch line, to where the ensuring throw-in would take place. Cries of “come on boys, show ‘em what you’re made of,” battled against the spur-on calls of “backs against the wall chaps. Keep them out. At all costs.”
Eight bloodied warriors, from each side, made their weary, heavy way towards that last appointed place of attrition, whilst the backs, ‘the girls,’ looked on with preying eyes. Thirty yards to go or, seventy for glory, for one of their number, fleet of foot.
The forwards hunched, they grunted, they steamed. The wet, slippery, cylindrical ball was thrown in amongst the tangled mess to be feasted on, and the outcome of the War thereby decided….It was tussled with and skirmished with, never finding a clean grasp until at last the Police side had it, and off backwards it went!
From the safe, but unimaginative, hands of the scrum half it was let-loose into the field of arbitration. The games fate far from sealed, but about to be. “Sling it long. To the wing. Come on boys.” Came the experts dressed in Blue combined opinions, now encroaching onto the field of play with an urgency to their step.
The Generals and the Braids fell silent, but followed with no regard to their shiny polished shoes squelching in hallowed mud, as the ball found the number ten, the playmaker; one Sergeant Dickie Ireland from ‘M’ Division attached to Brixton Police Station.
Dickie made the decision of his life that day, in changing from his normal ‘safety-first‘ policy of getting rid of the ball as quickly as possible, to one of….attack. He stepped inside the up-rushing line of Army defense, making his speedy way towards the corner flag. In his way ahead, and in the forefront of his mind, lay the full contingent of the hardened ‘grunts.’ The Privates, the Non-Commissioned Officers, those that had slung punches all through the game, now were between Dickie and glory.
Cometh the hour, cometh the….BOY.
“Left Dickie.” It was not a plea, but an order that the youngest player on that pitch screamed at his superior officer. His name is not important, it is the deed that the BOY did, that is.
Nameless was no Policeman. He was a lowly eighteen year old Cadet but he took it upon himself to take the game away from all that looked on. He wore the number Seven on the back of that blue, mud splattered shirt, but it could have been any number now that he had manoeuvred himself into the inside centres position…A boy amongst the ‘girls,’ with men around, and bearing down on him.
The soft, flick pass, from Dickie’s hands was going to land short. Instinctively he reached for it, scooping it up before it fell to ground and became a bouncing nightmare, then, in one motion and without thought or hesitation, dropped it to the ground and instantaneously connected his right boot to its rebound. It sailed, it flew twenty yards straight and true over the cross-bar and between those imposing posts. The game won, the boy won. The boy never became a man that day and he has never changed, always wanting that adventure, that challenge…That glory.