The Chosen One

It’s World Cup season! Bring it on!!

Soccer playerGary flinched as the paper bag hit him squarely on the back of his head, showering him with peanut shells. His hand instinctively flew up to rub the back of his head at the point of impact. From up in the stands behind him, the home supporters cheered.

“Bull’s eye!” someone yelled.

“Wanker!” shouted another.

The increased catcalls were very audible above the cacophony of 75,000 in attendance.

He felt his ears burn and a flush creeping across his cheeks. But his eyes remained fixed on the soccer field and the game in play before him. Beads of sweat trickled down his face. He adjusted his collar and swallowed deeply.

The scoreboard flashed: HOME: 0  VISITORS: 3

The first 90 minutes of play was over and they were in the final 30 seconds of extra time. Today, the team was being beaten royally at home by another club at the bottom of the league.

Gary took a drink of water from the sports bottle next to him to relieve the dryness in his mouth. But his stomach was too tight for him to take more than a sip.

Chants of “RICHARDS OUT! RICHARDS OUT! RICHARDS OUT!” now arose in the stands, building to a crescendo.

Gary walked over to the edge of the field and crossed his arms. He squinted at the far end of the opposing team’s goal line. He shouted instructions to no one in particular in an attempt to ignore the barrage of profanities being hurled at him.

In mere moments, the past year of Gary’s life flashed before his eyes.

Nine months ago the outgoing manager of Stratford F.C. retired after his 20th championship win and selected him as successor. Gary Richards had been greeted with open arms by the home fans and euphoria was high. Stratford was undefeatable.

Signs all around the stadium heralded Gary as “The Chosen One.”

But after 8 defeats at home and 7 away, and no trophies to bring home this season, the fans had turned against him. They wanted him out.

A cup containing some mystery liquid found its mark between his shoulders. He didn’t want to guess what that smell was.

The sound of the referee’s whistle brought an end to play and to his torture in the sun.

Chosen for failure, he thought miserably and, both hands in his pockets, walked off the pitch.


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