Day 23: Mud!

Matt Zurbo


Deano loved his footy! He brought his to school every day.

And, early Saturday mornings, he got to run around for his team, the Otway Mud!
(Purple jumpers with yellow ‘O’ with yellow ‘M’ inside it, on chest. Jumper muddy.)

Deano’s coach was a scary potato farmer, who sometimes came to training on his tractor, and took drills wearing gumboots.
(Huge, barrel chested, bow legged man with bowl haircut, or floppy hat, wearing a floppy akubra and drizabone jacket, with Otway Mud old school woollen jumper on underneath, shorts and gumboots, standing in front of his tractor. He looks grumpy.)

One day, the weather was coming in hard! The coach sent a message to school. “A lot of the roads will be closed,” it said. “None of you have to come to training, but I will be if any of you still want to show up.”

A cheer went up!
“A night off training!” Little Carro shouted.
“Who’d run around in this weather?” his brother, Big Carro, laughed.
(School bus driving through hard rain and puddles, trees in bush background swaying with their force.)

Deano thought hard about not training… (He is in warm house with wet school things, standing over footy bag, but looking at potbelly fire.)

but went anyway.
(Deano wincing as he walks into hard rain.)

Only two other kids showed up.
“Right, let’s go!” the coach barked.
(Deano, girl in pigtails, dark-skinned boy, all wearing different jumpers – Deano, the purple and gold of Otway Mud, the girl Geelong, the other boy a flannel shirt. They are peering out door with dread at dusk and sideways rain.Coach behind them, angry, arms on hips)

At first, training was real hard.
(Three of them shivering, hands under armpits, one of them, super cold, holding the ball as if to kick it off standing start, Dean waiting for the kick.)

Deano decided the only way to get through the night was to ATTACK! (Dean, teeth clenched with cold, blue skin, charging off with the ball.)

Big Carro, and Little Carro, live behind the oval. After a while, the sound of kicking and running through mud was replaced by screams.
“Poor suckers!” Little Carro moaned.
(Carro shrinking into his seat, while behind him, other Carro looking out window)

Deano was having a ball!
(Chest mark, sliding through water and mud, screaming with joy)

All that running around, he was no longer cold.
(Deano and other boy competing for ball stuck in mud.)

The wet was fun! Deano was DETERMINED!

He felt special. Tough. It was as if the three of them now had some sort of secret, a bond!
(Three of them running, handballing, oval light in background, lighting the rain.)

He now knew he could play well when it rained.

And that bad weather would never spoil a holiday or ruin a day!
(Deano, lying spreadeagled on his back, in water and mud, ball beside him, looking up, breathing small frost clouds, smiling.)

Eventually, training stopped.
“There’s no more noise,” Little Carro fretted.
“They’re probably dead,” his brother gasped.

The coach called his three players in. “Here’s some mud cake, for training on a night you didn’t have to,” he said.
(Players, and coach, covered in mud, water dripping off them, under solo carpark (gravel) light, lit oval behind them. Coach handing out goodies – from tractor cabin. Deano, looking at his in is hands, a bit perplexed.)

“And,” he added, before walking away, “a bowl of warm potato stew.”
(Deano,, bag with cake in it in hand, bowl under arm, watching coach drive away into the rain/dark.)

Spud farming was hard, almost impossible when it rained like this, yet the coach showed there were people out there who cared. People you might never expect!
(Deano, clean, ruffled showered hair, PJs on, cake on table, next to footy, as he is drinking soup straight from bowl.)

That was all Deano needed to make himself a promise; he would never miss training again!  
(Deano, running on hot, sunny day, big smile, kicking ball. Cuppo brothers in background, sweating, tongues dangling.)

Eventually, Deano went on to play in the Big League – the AFL! In Sydney the grounds never had mud on them!

But every holidays he never forgot where he came from…!
(Dean, grown up, Swans bag behind him, Swans socks on, but wearing old Otway Mud jumper/jacket, smiling as he looks down on kids running through mud, doing drills. Coach, now old, looking on from in front of tractor.)

Or his first coach!
(Dean and Coach, arms around each other’s shoulder, grinning at reader, kids of all shapes and sizes running around them with footies in mud. One overweight adult payer in background, cooking o the barbie.)


The End

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