Almanac Short Story: Retribution

by Barry Mitchell


I love to go and watch my son play. Although just a battler he’s good enough to get a game in the senior side even though he’s only sixteen. During the game I see one of the opposition players run near enough to the ball to get it but then makes no effort to do so. Instead he uses his arm in a round-arm fashion and strikes our player to the head. The hit player drops to the ground and doesn’t move. As he’s dropping he doesn’t use his hands to brace his fall which means he’s knocked out before his head crashes into the turf . The umpire blows his whistle for a free kick.


“Too high,” he bellows before running backwards leaving the scene of the crime as quickly as he can.


Nobody comes in to remonstrate as everyoneknows the perpetrator. It’s Boofa Grimes, well known for exploits like these. He arrogantly straddles  the kid with his arms in the air like he has done nothing wrong.


The kid, who is a real up and comer, has blood dribbling from his ear and his mouth guard has been dislodged in the hit .


“That dog,” I think angrily to myself. “He’s a real bully. Always goes for our younger guys and knows he’ll get nothing back.”


Grimes has been playing in this country league for seven years and is at his third club. He has to move on because nobody likes his style. He has a high opinion of himself, the only one that does, besides his father who was also a thug.


Boofa gets around town elbows sticking out, like he’s got a suitcase under each arm. He has New Age tatts, you know the ones under the biceps… he drives the hotted up HSV ute but carries no tools in it. Well other than himself. He’s rude, having no manners and certainly no idea.


At the after-match I ask my son what the coach said about Grimes before the game.


“He didn’t mention him,” my son replies.


“Hmm, it seems no one wants a part of this,” I think to myself.


Grimes then eases into the after match, butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.


I catch his eye with my stare. He looks down but then defiantly returns with a glare.


“What are you looking at Grandad,” the look suggests.


“Oh nothing mate , you’ll get yours,” I think as I hatch my plan together.


I go over and badger our president.


“What are you going to do about Grimes knocking out our young bloke today?” I ask in an aggressive manner.


“Oh Getay Bobby,” the president returns. “I’m sorry mate, I didn’t see it. I believe it was in play.”


I look at him incredulously. “This is exactly why he  gets away with it because we all just stand around and let it happen. We’re complicit,” I plead.


“Excuse me mate, I’ve got to get myself a beer , would you like one?” he inquires.


I storm off, grab my boy and head for the door.


I now know what I have to do. Although forty-four and well and truly past it I decide to make a comeback.


I head down to training the following Tuesday and let the coach know I’m on the comeback trail. He just laughs – which I take as an insult. However when I look down and see my gut hanging over my shorts I  think he might be right. I have eight weeks to get myself in some sort of shape for the rematch with Boofa’s team.


I run a couple of laps and am blowing like you wouldn’t believe. I then do some stretches barely able to touch my shins let alone toes.


After forty-five minutes of basic kicking and handball I ‘ve had enough. I’ve managed to fumble , miskick and botch up nearly every attempt I’ve made at looking like a player. It’s embarrassing. The following morning my muscles are screaming. Is it all worth it? But when I think of that brute Boofa I am resolute.


Over the following six weeks I go from embarrassing to solid and now have been jettisoned back into the ones. I am getting ready for my one duty, I think you know what that will be. My plan is to get him, you know, square up. But I must say I was never good at getting blokes off the ball. Probably because I would go for it.


So the big day came along. It was at their home ground which would give me even more satisfaction. I knew I had to be patient, pick the right moment. I played deep forward mainly because I could no longer run. The game meandered along with me having very little involvement. I was focused on just one job. Revenge would be oh so sweet. Then at about the fifteen minute mark of the second quarter true to form it happened again. This time my boy hit the deck. I saw red and charged, if you could call it that, fifty metres to get him. He was gonna pay. I was gaining speed as I reached my target. Although it was out of character it was going to be my first what you’d call ‘dog act’. But just as I was about to let it go my conscience got the better of me. I hesitated giving him the ability to see me out the corner of his eye . Bang . The punch was thrown.


It connected beautifully the timing perfect as the knuckle embedded itself perfectly into the temple of the head.


It was the first time ever a father and son had been carried off the field at the same time .


  1. “… other than himself.” Classic. They say some footballers are in a league of their own – in the case of people like Grimes we wish we could give the phrase a new meaning.

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