All his life ever since he was a kid, all he ever wanted was to play first grade for his favourite club.
He played all the junior games and was said to be ‘pretty good.’ And then when he is selected as a teenager to play representative football, he begins to think ‘my dream is coming true.’
After years of hard work and good performances, he gets a call to play footy for his beloved team. He meets all his new team mates, tries on his new footy jumper, pride oozing from his pores.
Sure, he’s only in reserve grade, but things are moving up. His first season he wanted to be in first grade, but by season end, he realised that he had a lot of work to do to get that far, but he was not discouraged.
After a few more seasons in reserve grade, he began thinking, ‘maybe I won’t get to play first grade.’ But he never gave up. Then, something freaky happens. Injuries and suspensions run riot through the first grade squad. Poor form of the remaining players has also contributed to many losses. The coach begins looking for alternatives to try and get a win on the board.
That’s when his phone rang, the first grade coach asks, “Can you play first grade this week?”
The ecstasy, the adulation felt is overwhelming. Finally, at the age of 21, his first grade career is about to take off. His childhood dream is now reality. He arrives at training with an air of confidence, full of enthusiasm, trying to make a good impression from the outset.
The anticipation of playing first grade becomes unbearable; the week seems to go so slowly. He feels like a child waiting for Christmas.
Finally, the big day is upon him. He awakes in his cheap, run down, messy apartment. He showers, turns on the television, grabs the newspaper, and sets himself down at his table. Flicking straight to the page that has the team line ups on it, he sees his name and smiles. This is his time now.
He had received phone calls all week long from friends, family, former team mates, and old coaches. Current team mates all congratulated him at training throughout the week. The encouragement from others had been unbelievable.
He gathered all his clothes, put them in his bag and made for the door. He got into his beat up second-hand car and set off down the road, in the direction of the life he always wanted.
In the car park at the ground, his car was allowed in the VIP parking area. It looked so out of place, but it all felt so right to him. He grabbed his bag off the back seat, slammed the door shut and headed for the ground entrance. He continued to receive more congratulations and support from the fans in the queue outside the ground, as he made his way through the player’s gate.
He sat through the lower grades, watching his old team-mates playing without him for the first time in many years. In the dressing room, the coach approached him, presenting him with his first grade jumper. He began to feel nervous, excited and overawed upon receiving the one thing he had longed. First grade glory.
Then, the team ran up the tunnel and out onto the ground. Wearing his new jumper, he was grinning like a child with a new bike. The crowd gave an almighty cheer.
The game was played at a seemingly frenetic pace. He was playing with enthusiasm, heart and passion. Eventually, the team scores an unlikely victory. The start of his first grade had just begun, or so it seemed.
Back in the dressing room, the coach congratulated him, as did his new team-mates.
He gets in his car and drives back home, satisfied, happy and unaware of the muscle pain obtained from the game.
He arrives for the next training session, and the first grade squad greet him. He was feeling like one of the big boys now. Then, to his horror, he sees the players who have been missing for the past few weeks. He tried not to think about it. Eventually the coach approached him and told him that he is back to reserves for the time being.
The next few seasons he continued being a consistent performer in the reserve grade, hope driving him, hope that he’ll get that phone call once again.