The school day seemed very long, as usual, and when the final bell rang, most of the kids ran home, but the football players went into the playground, to have a practice for their next game. Image how surprised they were to see quite a few of the other kids – the ones who didn’t play football – standing round the edge of the pitch watching! And imagine Davina’s surprise when she saw Suzie standing there, all neat as a pin, nodding and smiling to Davina! Davina blushed, then smiled and waved! Did she have a new friend? Hm! Time would tell.
The practice went on, with some time spent perfecting dribbling skills, heading skills and so on, and the players forgot they had an audience! Mr. Jackson was getting quite excited too, as his team developed new moves, and were soon playing exceedingly well! After the practice, when all the boys, and Davina of course, went back to the dressing rooms to get changed ready to go home, he gave them a pep talk about the next match they were due to play the following Saturday. This would be against what we, in Scotland, call a “private school” – one where parents paid fees to ensure their children got the very best education, literally, that money could buy.
Mr. Jackson warned that this team had won quite a few other competitions, and were, as they say in French, la crème de la crème, and would be exceedingly difficult to beat! The boys were a wee bit anxious about this, but Davina? No! Not her! “Bring it on!” she said, quite happily, and the others smiled at her enthusiasm, secretly hoping that they could keep up with her!
Practices went on every day after school, and the team was doing pretty well. Mr. Jackson even thought if they could forget about where they actually were, it was just possible they could at least draw with this other well-known team. He would see.
Letters home were issued to the team – they had to be at the school, in clean and spotless uniforms, by 10.30 a.m. on the Saturday, ready to get to this match. Even Davina had behaved well all week, with no punishment exercises, much to everyone’s relief, and she happily listened to all Mr. Jackson had to say, working out in her head how it would all work. She went home on the Friday evening, as usual looking forward to the next day.
When Mr. Taylor came home from work, Mrs. Taylor showed him the letter. He raised his eyebrows, and said “Oh!” “Oh what?” said Mrs. Taylor. Mr. T. then said he knew this school, and it had an excellent record in everything – the number of pupils going on to University; the number of pupils who had ended up in great jobs; the number of pupils who had gone abroad to represent their country and so on. “Oh!” said Mrs. T. in a slightly different voice, and she looked over towards Davina, who had been listening intently to all Mr. T. had had to say. Hmm. That sounded a bit daunting, but, she shrugged her shoulders as though to say “We’ll just wait and see!” and got on with her homework, careful to do this well so that she would still be able to join her team on the Saturday. Still, a niggling doubt had been placed in her mind, and that night, horror of horrors, she had a nightmare in which she had been in possession of the ball, had run up the pitch, aimed the ball at the opponents’ goal, and……………MISSED! She woke up in horror, then breathed a sigh of relief! Just a dream! She turned over in bed, intending to go back to sleep, but found that sleep would not come!
At breakfast, she was much quieter than usual, which rather surprised her parents, as she normally chattered nineteen to the dozen, as we say, and had to be rushed out of the door to ensure she was not late for school! Mr. & Mrs. T. looked at each other with raised eyebrows; not like their Davina at all! But they all had to get on with the day, so Mr. T. went off to work, and Mrs. T. got on with checking that Davina’s football shirt and shorts and socks were all clean and pressed, before going on to tidy the rest of the house, singing cheerfully to herself as she went, and planning what she could get done that day.