Davina, who genuinely didn’t realise what a troublesome pupil she was, just shrugged, and went about her life in the usual way. Yes, she still ran errands for neighbours, and yes, she still played football in the boys’ playground (the headmaster, Mr. Robertson having thought it best to allow her to do that, rather than constantly monitoring where she was at break time!) and yes, she still managed to kick a ball up and down the corridor! The only thing she did change was that she tried, very hard it has to be said, not to answer her teacher back during class time! And, in fairness, didn’t get very many punishment exercises.
The team practised and practised – dribbling the ball, heading the ball, various strategies for passing the ball to one another and avoiding the opposition’s defence – and gradually bit by bit improved! The end of the week drew near, and all the other members of the team kept an eye on Davina to try and keep her out of trouble!
Saturday morning dawned bright and clear – ideal conditions for a football match – and each member of the team in clean school uniform met at the school gate at 9.30 a.m. ready to get on the bus and go to the match. Mr. Jackson had a clipboard, and ticked off each boy as he arrived…….David, Matthew, Gordon, John, Brian, and so on, and soon there were ten boys all sitting on the bus ready to go. But, where on earth was Davina? Mr. Jackson telephoned her home, and Mrs. Taylor said she had left at least ten minutes ago, so should have been at the school well before now! Oh no! Where was she? Everyone looked up and down the street, frantically searching for their missing player. They even went into the school and checked there too, but there was no sign of Davina.
Davina had indeed left home in plenty of time to get to school, but on her way met up with old Mrs. Franks, one of their neighbours, who was standing under a large oak tree, frantically calling on Toodles, her cat, which was perched high in the tree, and seemed too afraid to climb back down! “Not to worry, Mrs. F.” said Davina, “I’ll get him!” and plonking down her bag with her gear in it, she took off her blazer, and started climbing up the tree. The higher she climbed, the higher Toodles climbed too, until the pair of them were way, way up high at the top of the tree, and the branches were swaying in the wind! Eventually, by almost hanging upside down on a very thin branch, Davina managed to catch the offending cat, getting scratched in the face for her pains, and blood running down her face! Her hair, once tucked neatly into a pony tail, had managed to get loose, and was flying all around her head, and the cat was clawing at it too!
Eventually, a rather disreputable looking Davina, managed to climb back down the tree, and hand Toodles, the cat, back to her owner. Then she realised the time, and that she might have missed the bus to the football match!!
No time to go home and get tidied up – she ran full pelt through back gardens, over hedges, through puddles which she hadn’t realised were there, and finally, just as the bus was about to leave without her, rushed up to the bus, and pounded on the door!! “Let me in! Let me in!” she shouted, and even knowing her talent for being a bit scruffy, at first Mr. Jackson and the rest of the team didn’t recognise her, and the bus continued to make its way down the street. Then, when she shouted once more “Let me in!” Mr. Jackson recognised her voice, and asked the bus driver to stop!
How on earth could they manage to tidy this disreputable girl up?? One of the other teachers who was accompanying Mr. Jackson and his team, was a lady who was very fastidious, and she immediately went into her capacious handbag and produced a packet of wipes – little cloths which are impregnated with some sort of liquid which has cleaning properties – and started wiping Davina’s face and hands. So far, so good. Then a comb was produced, and the long black hair was combed and combed until most of the tangles were out, and it looked not too bad. An elastic band kept it in a ponytail and facially, at least, she looked reasonably normal once more.
But, what to do about her uniform?? Fortunately, her sports gear had suffered very little damage, and would do, but her actual blazer, shirt and tie, and skirt were in a real mess! The others huddled round, working out what they could do. One of the boys, Gordon, said “I’ve got a spare pair of socks, you can have these Davina!” and handed them over. Another then said, “You can have my spare tie, Davina, my Mum always sticks one in my bag as I always lose it, and need a replacement!” “Thanks, John,” said Davina, gratefully accepting the tie as well. Then Mr. Jackson said, “It’s a lovely day, so all the team members should take off their blazers, fold them, and carry them over their arms so that the mud on the jacket won’t be so obvious!” As for the shirt, again one of the other team members had a spare and handed it over!
Mr. Jackson heaved a sigh of relief, and Davina was kitted out with a clean uniform, and the team looked reasonably smart! This had, of course, all taken time, and it was the time that he normally would have used to remind the players of the strategy they had worked out, but they would just have to accept that this match was going to be difficult!
They arrived at the venue, more or less ready for the game. It had to be said, Davina did look a wee bit odd, with a scratch down her face, her hair pulled back severely into a pony tail, and a rather odd school uniform! The teams changed into their football gear, and ran out onto the pitch. The referee gave a blast on his whistle, and the game began!
WOW! It was really exciting! In spite of not having had the usual coach’s chat prior to the match, Davina was on a high, as usual, and her team made sure that when she managed to run anywhere near the opposing goal, they passed the ball to her, and she dribbled around the defenders, and attempted to score. At first, the goalie of the opposing team managed to catch the ball, and kick it back into play. This went on for quite a while – Davina impressed at the ability of the goalie to catch or kick away the ball when her team tried to score. She gave this some thought; the goalie was better reaching to his natural side (his right), so if she could manage to kick the ball across the net, and high up on his left, they had a chance at scoring!
Well into the second half, Davina managed to trap the ball when she was well into the opposition side, dribble it off to the left of the pitch, and kick it across the mouth of the goal, just managing to miss the goalie’s outstretched hands……………and she scored a goal! Yes, a goal! A GOAL!!! YAY!!!! It was almost time, and her team managed to keep the ball well away from their own goal, and when the referee blew his final whistle, the score was Nil-One – Davina’s school therefore having won the match!! Mr. Jackson was jumping up and down, and beaming with excitement as his team happily trotted off to get changed and go home!
Of course, when she arrived back home, Davina hardly had time to get in the door when Mrs. Taylor noticed that her school uniform, which had been absolutely perfect when she put it on in the morning, was now in its usual state, and most of it had to go into the washing machine, while she attempted to brush mud and other dirt from it so that it was presentable once more for Monday morning!! “Plus ca change!” she muttered to herself – which means “Nothing changes!” And, indeed nothing ever did!! But more of that later on in this little book!